Robert Novak writes on John McCain’s potential problems with evangelical voters, citing difficulty setting up a meeting with James Dobson and disavowing John Hagee for his contoversial comments about Hitler the “hunter.”
At the end, Novak cautions that perhaps McCain’s problems are with evangelical leaders rather than actual voters. But the problem I see for McCain is not whether he can win evangelicals, but whether he can maintain Bush’s margin among the group and actually get them to show up.
In 2004, Bush won 78 percent of the evangelical vote, and the group made up 23 percent of the electorate. Even a slight drop in either of those numbers could have a dramatic impact on the race.
There’s been some talk that with Bob Barr in the race and Barack Obama able to increase black turnout, states such as Georgia and North Carolina could be in play for Democrats. Even if McCain wins these states, if Obama will be able to make them competitive, it will mean that McCain will have to squander time and resources protecting states that should already be in the bank, instead of targeting independents in places like Pennsylvania, Ohio, Minnesota, etc. In both North Carolina and Georgia, eveangelicals comprised more than a third of the electorate in 2004, and 84 percent of the group went for Bush.
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