The Corner

Oogedy Boogedy Cont’d

Marc Ambinder:

Is there evidence that suburban independents chose not to vote Republican primarily or even pluralily* because they worried about what Kathleen Parker calls the Oogedy Boogedy sect within the party? (i.e., Andrew’s Christianists, Ross’s conservative evangelicals.)? Lots of people assume that there is. This assumption is common more to liberals and centrists than it is to conservatives, of course. It’d be good to see some hard numbers from either side of this debate.

The problem with Sarah Palin, at least according to pre-election polls, was not that she exemplified/amplified the Christian right. It was that voters perceived her to be incompetent and not able to handle the job of commander in chief. In any event, there might be evidence to support this claim; Barack Obama ( a self-described evangelical, it must be said) turned over a whole bunch of suburbs in fast-growing areas. Democrats tried mightily to make inroads with conservative evangelicals, and they failed. This demographic group is, as Larison points out, is one of the most reliable factions within the party.  At this point, they matter enough. The dirty secret is not that a large part of the Republican establishment is worried about their influence. There are two secrets, actually: one — that the “leaders” of the various movements within social conservatism are ill-adapted to modern politics and can exacerbate tensions between the movement and outsiders; and two — that a large part of the Republican establishment believes they can pander to these voters, not address their core concerns, and still rely on them for support. You can’t build a Republican Party without them, but, depending on where you are in this great land of ours, you can safely ignore their cultural demands and still be a success, even if you’re a Republican.  When Charlie Crist ran for governor of Florida, he vacillated between pandering to the right and ignoring them. As governor, he’s ignored them. And his approval rating is at 68%.

Jonah Goldberg — Jonah Goldberg holds the Asness Chair in Applied Liberty at the American Enterprise Institute and is a senior editor of National Review. His new book, The Suicide of The West, is on sale now.

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