Marriage Equality: Help No on 1/Maine Cut Through the Lies

(Also at Nevada Progressive)

Have you seen the new blatantly false Yes on 1 ad?

Oh OK, that wasn't really it. But seriously, Jackie Beat would have SO MUCH FUN spoofing the real one! Yes, it's really that lame.

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IA-Sen: Could Grassley face a primary challenge from the right?

Angry social conservatives are speculating that Senator Chuck Grassley could face a primary challenge in 2010. The religious right has been dissatisfied with Grassley for a long time (see here and here).

After the Iowa Supreme Court struck down the state's Defense of Marriage Act, Grassley issued a statement saying he supported "traditional marriage" and had backed federal legislation and a federal constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. But when hundreds of marriage equality opponents rallied at the state capitol last Thursday, and Republicans tried to bring a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage to the Iowa House floor, Grassley refused to say whether he supported their efforts to change Iowa's constitution:

"You better ask me in a month, after I've had a chance to think," Grassley, the state's senior Republican official, said after a health care forum in Mason City.

Wingnut Bill Salier, who almost won the Republican primary for U.S. Senate in 2002, says conservatives are becoming "more and more incensed [the] more they start to pay attention to how far [Grassley] has drifted."

Iowa GOP chairman Matt Strawn denies that party activists are unhappy with Grassley. I hope Salier is right and Grassley gets a primary challenge, for reasons I'll explain after the jump.

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How are Democratic voters like Jesus?

A leading voice of Republican social conservatives in Iowa makes a surprising analogy in an op-ed piece from Tuesday's Des Moines Register:

Jesus Christ, whom many Republicans claim to follow, summoned his followers to be either hot or cold toward Him, because a "lukewarm" commitment makes Him want to vomit. I believe this accurately reflects the mood of voters in the past several elections where Republicans have witnessed consecutive defeats.

We have followed the misguided advice of "experts" to abandon our principles and move to the middle so we can supposedly win. In essence, we have become "lukewarm" on life, on marriage, on the Second Amendment, on limited government, on balanced budgets, on lower taxes, on parental rights in educating and raising children, on faith, on family and on freedom. The net result is that voters have spit us out of their mouths. [...]

The "elite" politicos and Iowa's dwindling Republican establishment are now convening committees and strategy sessions to advise their "flock" to abandon the party's principles and move even further to the middle if they hope to win again. The voter sees and tastes the "lukewarm" and compromising attempts to gain positions and power. The result is no trust, and the voter, like Christ, wants to throw up.

If Republicans are to win again, they must authentically embrace their core principles and effectively communicate a compelling message of bold-color conservatism that inspires faith, family and freedom.

That is no fringe politician talking. It's Bob Vander Plaats, a businessman from northwest Iowa who ran for the 2002 gubernatorial nomination, was the Republican nominee for lieutenant governor in 2006, and chaired Mike Huckabee's presidential campaign in Iowa.

If you click the link and read the whole piece by Vander Plaats, you won't find any opinion poll data backing up his assertions about why Iowa voters have been rejecting Republicans.

National polling shows that the electorate as a whole thinks Republicans lost the 2006 and 2008 elections because they were too conservative. At the same time, Republicans are more likely to believe their party is losing because its candidates have not been conservative enough. I'm with Paul Rosenberg: all signs point to Republicans being ready to drive their party off a cliff.

I'll be honest: I'd love to see the Republican Party of Iowa embrace Vander Plaats' faith-based political strategy. I suspect that's a path toward further losses for the GOP in 2010. Republicans have already suffered net losses of seats in both the Iowa House and Iowa Senate for four straight elections.

Quite a few GOP legislative candidates who put social issues front and center in their campaigns lost statehouse elections in Iowa last Tuesday.

Vander Plaats does not name any specific candidates whose moderation allegedly made voters want to throw up. One who drew a lot of fire from the social conservative crowd was Mariannette Miller-Meeks, Republican challenger to Dave Loebsack in Iowa's second Congressional district. She was a strong candidate, in my opinion, and it would be ridiculous to argue that she lost for not being conservative enough. This district has a partisan index of D+7. No Republican in the whole country represents a Congressional district with that much of a Democratic lean. Mike Castle of Delaware is the only one who comes close, and he is not a religious conservative firebrand.

The Vander Plaats piece is further evidence of the deep split in the Republican Party of Iowa, which parallels the divisions at the national level recently discussed by Todd Beeton. It won't be easy to heal under any circumstances, but especially not if social conservatives insist on moving the party further to the right.

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Barack Obama outperforms Gore and Kerry among Protestants and evangelicals

I am currently working on a senior honors thesis about the religious right. I've seen several headlines today that say while Obama won the Catholic vote, Democrats didn't really make inroads among the evangelical community - but I disagree.  I've spent some time today looking at consortium and CBS exit polls from every presidential election since 1972, and a preliminary scan shows three very interesting findings:

  • Barack Obama received a higher share of the Protestant vote, 45%, than any other Democratic nominee since at least 1972, the earliest year for which I have data. By comparison, in 2004 Kerry received 40% of the Protestant vote and in 2000 Gore received 42%. The previous high was 43.7% for Jimmy Carter in 1976. The low is George McGovern in 1972 with 28.4%.

  • The general "Protestant" category includes the liberal mainline denominations. Unfortunately, voters have only been asked if they consider themselves white evangelical or born-again in 2008 and 2004. In '04, 23% of voters said yes, and in '08, 26%. Kerry received 21% of that vote, and Obama 24. (In 2000, voters were asked if they were part of the religious right, and only 14% said yes. The term "religious right" is likely seen as offensive, so fewer voters were willing to claim it as a label. Of those voters, 18% voted for Gore.)

  • Barack Obama outperformed both Al Gore and John Kerry in terms of church attendance. More than weekly - Gore 36%, Kerry 35, Obama 43. Weekly - Gore 40, Kerry 41, Obama 43. Monthly - Gore 51, Kerry 49, Obama 53.

I'm not going to read anything into these numbers tonight; that's what my thesis is for. But the raw data is interesting, and suggests that the Emerging Church movement (Brian McLaren, Tony Campolo, etc.) may indeed be a strong ally for progressives, and that Leah Daughtry can keep on rockin'.

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Not all evangelical conservatives are thrilled with Palin

Many conservative pundits were not impressed by John McCain's selection of Sarah Palin as his running mate, since her glaring lack of experience undercuts McCain's main message against Barack Obama.

On the plus side for McCain, just about everyone agreed that putting an anti-abortion mother-of-five on the ticket would delight the evangelical Christians who were so crucial to George Bush's re-election.

Although the "pro-family" interest groups applauded McCain's choice, I had a hunch that Palin wouldn't be unanimously embraced by the evangelical rank and file.

I lurk and occasionally comment at a few "mommy blogs" written by religious conservatives. Checking in on some popular sites in the evangelical Christian blogosphere over the weekend, I did find some commentaries that praised Palin for her views and for continuing a pregnancy while carrying a child with Down syndrome.

However, if you join me after the jump, you'll see that plenty of evangelicals are far from "fired up and ready to go" for this Republican ticket.

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