Values and Election 2004 - The Faith Factor
Much has been made of the "moral/values" issue in the exit polls on the day of the election and their impact in the presidential election. Pundits of a variety of persuasions here here and here argue both for and against the "values" value. The fact of the matter is that it really didn't matter.
The Redstates voters that voted "values" on issues of faith, abortion, gay marriage (not really an issue, more about that later) etc., are no different from those voters in Bluestates who voted their values, economic justice, etc. Indeed, although trumpeted far and wide as the major issue in the election, in reality it was a fairly minor issue.
Iraq and War on Terror are, for the vast majority of people selecting those topics as major reasons for voting the way they did, almost synonymous. And those voters accounted for a far higher percentage than did the "morals/values" voters.
If you Google the words "Values, Election, 2004" you will get more than 4,820,000 sites. Granted, most of those are not related to the topic at hand, but do have the words in them but by the first 200 items listed it's still "All Values All the Time."
What does this all mean? Why that "values" were pushed by Bush and carried the day, of course! Not! As Charles Krauthammer noted:
"George Bush increased his vote in 2004 over 2000 by an average of 3.1 percent nationwide. In Ohio the increase was 1 percent -- less than a third of the national average. In the 11 states in which the gay marriage referendums were held, Bush increased his vote by less than he did in the 39 states that did not have the referendum."
And this was just the idea that Bush Voters were anti-gay bigots. Having said that, were there anti-gay bigots that voted for Bush? Sure, just as there were some that voted for Kerry. Kerry was anti-gay marriage too remember? Yet, the rumor persists and that is a shame. Because as long as we don't talk about what values are really important to all of us as Americans, we won't solve many problems.
Faith no doubt played a part in this election. Peoples of faith voted for both candidates to be sure. But Bush seemed to more people to be sincere about his faith, and those same people seemed to think that faith was a talking point for Kerry, nothing more. Kerry talked (past tense) about being an alter-boy. Bush talked about his current faith and how it affects his center of being. That is a big difference folks and accounted for a goodly portion of his vote.
UPDATE 8:50 AM, CST 11/14/04: Cox and Forkum have something to say in a graphic format