No one except maybe John Edwards was turning the other cheek at last night’s Democratic debate in Myrtle Beach, but Obama did play the Christian card:
So, I think it’s important for us not to assume that we can’t reach out to people of all — of all persuasions, and I want to just take one last example on this, and that is on the issue of faith. You know, I am a proud Christian. And the…(APPLAUSE) I think there have been times — there have been times where our Democratic Party did not reach out as aggressively as we could to evangelicals, for example, because the assumption was, well, they don’t agree with us on choice, or they don’t agree with us on gay rights, and so we just shouldn’t show up. And when you don’t show up, if you’re not going to church, then you’re not talking to church folk. And that means that people have a very right-wing perspective in terms of what faith means and of defining our faith…And as somebody who believes deeply in the precepts of Jesus Christ, particularly treating the least of these in a way that he would, that it is important for us to not concede that ground. Because I think we can go after those folks and get them.
White evangelicals–the ones he’s talking about here–do seem to like Obama, and it’s worth noting that a greater percentage of them vote Democratic in the South than elsewhere in the country. But unfortunately for Obama, they’re the ones he’s less likely to find in church. For example, in the 2002 midterm elections (see this article), white evangelicals in the South who attended church less than once a week split their vote evenly between Democratic and Republican congressional candidates, while 60 percent of their counterparts in the rest of the country voted Republican. The weekly and more-than-weekly attenders, by contrast, voted 3-1 Republican throughout the country.