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religious right.jpgThe New York Times‘ Michael Luo sums of the state of play in re: McCain and the evangelicals. Not much to write home about: some outreach plans here, some watch-and-wait there. Oddly, there’s no mention of the veepstakes and its possible significance for ginning up evangelical enthusiasm for the GOP ticket.
Here’s what I think. There’s no evidence other than the anecdotal that white evangelicals are jumping ship this year. And voters tend to turn out in presidential election years (in off-year elections, not so much). So to the extent we’re talking about the evangelical voting bloc, I expect it will look pretty much the way it’s looked over the past few election cycles. That is, I’d be astonished if McCain gets less than 70 percent of the white evangelical vote. McCain’s real trouble is with evangelical political leaders–with the Religious Right, understood as an organized movement. Those guys don’t like him for much the same reason they don’t like all this “broadening the agenda” stuff: He, like it, tends to dull the sharp end of the wedge in the culture wars. For that matter, Mike Huckabee threatened to do the same–which is why they didn’t much care for him either. Over the years, the leadership of the Religious Right has always thrived on candidates who feed off the hostility of the Other Side–and John McCain just isn’t one of them.
Update: I just noticed today’s Novak column, which (mutatis mutandis) tends to support the above assessment. With the usual dollop of inside baseball, possibly even true.