Robert Novak’s column today looks at the complicated relationship between Rudy Giuliani and religious conservatives. As I noted in my own piece on the subject last week, polls show Giuliani is actually leading among voters who attend church regularly despite his social liberalism. Novak suggests that maybe Dobson and company are out of touch.
Two quick points. The first is that there are in fact legitimate questions about how representative leaders of the religious right are of conservative Christian voters as a group. Without even getting into tradtionalist Catholics and other members of conservative religious communities, evangelicals have gotten bigger and more diverse. The politically active among them are fairly well integrated into the Republican Party. They aren’t going to be easy for some half-hearted third-party effort to dislodge.
Second, I’d be careful about jumping to too fast a conclusion in the other direction. The Gallup poll shows Giuliani with a small 27 percent plurality, just three points ahead of the lesser known Fred Thompson. All of the other candidates have their own problems and many of them, including Thompson, have also been criticized by the Dobsonites. This is a far cry from the unified religious conservative support George W. Bush enjoyed. There is as of yet no evidence that Giuliani is unacceptable to a majority of religious conservatives, but neither is there any that he is their runaway favorite.
If you haven’t had enough of my commentary on this topic, tune into the Lynne Breidenbach Show after 6:15 this evening.