Winning With Evangelicals
How the 2004 presidential race turned on religious outreach
That helps explain why Christianity Today's October 2004 John Kerry profile read like a hatchet job. The magazine noted that the Democratic nominee invoked God's name just once in the three days that its reporter rode aboard the campaign's press plane, and then in a secular context. Denied an interview with Kerry, Christianity Today resorted to citing his 1998 interview with American Windsurfer magazine as a source for "some of his most detailed public comments about his theological ideals." The story skewered Kerry's support for abortion rights and gay rights.
Barred from speaking to the press, Vanderslice focused on organizing grass-roots religious volunteers. The Bush campaign signed up more than 300,000 conservative religious volunteers; Vanderslice worked with a national volunteer list of 700. Rather than actively court volunteers, she simply tried to keep up with the calls and E-mails from religious Kerry supporters. They were requesting everything from bumper stickers and buttons to talking points on why Catholics could support Kerry despite the criticisms he'd received from Catholic bishops.
In addition to losing the evangelical vote by the most lopsided margin on record for a presidential candidate, election returns showed that Kerry became the first Democratic presidential candidate in memory to lose the Catholic vote, despite his own Catholicism.
In the crucial battleground of Ohio, Kerry won only about 1 in 3 weekly churchgoers. Two years later, in the 2006 midterms, successful Ohio Democratic Senate candidate Sherrod Brown would increase his share of weekly churchgoers to 48 percent. Had Kerry done that well among those Ohioans, he'd be in the White House today.
From The Jesus Machine by Dan Gilgoff. Copyright ÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂ© 2007 by the author and reprinted by permission of St. Martin's Press