How Much Do Social Issues Matter…to Evangelicals

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The response to Pat Robertson’s endorsement has run, on the right, from bemused– “Why would he?”– to sour grapes– “Well, Pat Robertson doesn’t matter any more.  Didn’t he say Katrina hit New Orleans because of gay people?”

There have been a few wise voices– Jonah Goldburg is one– who have pointed to, you know, data.  These folks suggest maybe the most important social issue to Evangelicals is the War on Terror.

As you may suspect, I think Mr. Goldburg is on to something.  Importantly, this opinion is actually backed by some data.  The first, most obvious data point is that Evangelicals are not lining up behind a single candidate.  If they were so monolithic and easy to lead one would believe they would figure out who lines up best with them, and all support that person.

Now here’s a second data point, a CBS poll from a couple weeks ago.  [HT Crunchy Con]  There’s a bunch of interesting stuff in that poll, so please do check it out.  For our purposes here, though, check out the list of issues Evangelicals want to see their political leaders talk about:

Health care 23%

War in Iraq 20%

Immigration 8%

Economy/jobs 7%

What don’t you see in that list?  Also interestingly, social issues are still considered extremely important to Evangelicals, despite the fact that it does not rank highly on the above list.  I’m not too sure how to parse that.

Finally, I thought it rather illuminating that about 40% of Evangelicals think abortion should only be allowed to save the life of the mother or not at all.  That’s still more than twice the rate in the general population, but it does pretty well put to rest the canard of thinking that Evangelicals have cookie-cutter views and are easily led, eh?

Remember, I’m not making any value judgements here.  Personally, this blogger can probably be described as “tentatively pro-life”.  I’m talking politics.

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