values voters

'Is Dan Crenshaw the Future of the GOP?' Let's see: Do people in pews matter in this equation?

'Is Dan Crenshaw the Future of the GOP?' Let's see: Do people in pews matter in this equation?

So, GetReligion readers: Are any of you among the dozen or so people interested in American life and political culture who has not seen the famous Weekend Update appearance by Lt. Com. Dan Crenshaw on Saturday Night Live?

That face-to-face meeting with Pete Davidson included lots of memorable one-liners (and one really snarky cellphone ringtone), but one of Crenshaw’s first wisecracks carried the most political weight: “Thanks for making a Republican look good.”

No doubt about it: The new congressman’s popular culture debut has become a key part of his personal story and his high political potential.

Thus, that recent Politico headline: “Is Dan Crenshaw the Future of the GOP?”

The basic idea in this feature is that Crenshaw is a rising GOP star whose approach to politics is distinctly different than that of President Donald Trump and that the former Navy SEAL and Harvard guy is striving to maintain independence from the Trump machine. Then there is personal charisma. That SNL appearance is as much a part of his story as his eye patch.

Naturally, this means that more than half of the Politico article is about Trump and how Crenshaw is walking the fine line between #NeverTrump and #OccasionallyTrump.

Repeat after me: Politics is real. Politics is the only thing that is real.

However, since this is GetReligion I will once again note that certain facts of life remain important in this era of Republican politics. How do you write a major feature story about Crenshaw’s GOP political future without addressing his appeal to cultural and religious conservatives? As I wrote before:

… (It) is hard to run for office as a Republican in Texas (or even as a Democrat in large parts of Texas) without people asking you about your religious beliefs and your convictions on religious, moral and cultural issues. This is especially true when your life includes a very, very close encounter with death.

So let’s start here: If you were writing about Crenshaw and what makes him tick, would it help to know what he said, early in his campaign, during a church testimony that can be viewed on Facebook? The title is rather blunt: “How faith in God helped me never quit.” …

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New York Times correspondent pays faith-free visit to #NeverTrump #NeverHillary territory

New York Times correspondent pays faith-free visit to #NeverTrump #NeverHillary territory

As we stagger closer to election day, the political desk at The Washington Post has produced several stories focusing on the fact that many centrist voters (Catholics in particular) are sickened by the thought of going into a voting booth and supporting either Donald Trump or Hillary Rodham Clinton.

What’s the problem? It’s something called “values,” apparently.

However, it appears that journalists believe that this has nothing to do with the whole “values voter” phenomenon seen in recent elections. In other words, this panic out there in many corners of the heartland has nothing to do with faith, morality, culture, religion or what have you. Yes, I have written several posts about this Post trend. In particular, see the recent post with this headline: “Washington Post: USA more pessimistic, divided than ever (and don’t ask about religion).”

Now, the New York Times political desk has bravely sent a correspondent into the heartland and found pretty much the same thing. Lots of folks in red zip codes are upset about the Donald vs. Hillary situation and, what do you know, it appears that there is more to this anger than the state of the economy. The Times headline proclaims: “Reliably Red Ohio County Finds Both Trump and Clinton Hard to Stomach.”

As you can see in the overture, the Gray Lady team visited a rust-free part of Ohio in which the economy is doing just fine. 

DELAWARE, Ohio -- Donald J. Trump is not popular in this prospering county north of Columbus. The Republican nominee’s dystopian language does not resonate here. Signs that read “Now Hiring” outnumber “Trump” campaign placards.
But many residents of this reliably Republican county, which last voted for a Democratic president in 1916, simply cannot imagine voting for Mr. Trump’s Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton. And that goes a long way toward explaining why she has struggled to separate herself from Mr. Trump in this bellwether state.

This doesn’t fit the received wisdom among the chattering-class elites.

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Washington Post: USA more pessimistic, divided than ever (and don’t ask about religion)

Washington Post: USA more pessimistic, divided than ever (and don’t ask about religion)

It’s a familiar journalism strategy during election years: When in doubt, run a poll story.

The leaders of The Washington Post are doing everything that they can do, in terms of social media and online promotions, to trumpet their new 50-state survey of potential American voters. This poll is somewhat different, at this stage in the White House horse race, because it focuses more on the nation’s mood than a single-minded focus on the alleged popularity of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

The big news: America is as divided than ever -- maybe even more divided -- and the vast majority of Americans are pessimistic when it comes to finding a way out of this mess. The exception to this rule: optimistic Americans are part of the coalition that President Barack Obama has favored in his policies and executive orders. 

What’s at the heart of this story? Apparently it's a mysterious something called “values.”

However, since we are talking about the Post political desk, it appears that zero effort was made to see if that word “values” might be attached to moral or religious issues. Here is a crucial chunk of the story, near the top:

Americans also say they fear they are being left behind by the cultural changes that are transforming the country. Asked whether the America of today reflects their values more or less than it did in the past, large majorities of registered voters in every state say the country reflects their values less. … 
The survey is the largest sample ever undertaken by The Post, which joined with SurveyMonkey and its online polling resources to produce the results. The findings from each state are based on responses from more than 74,000 registered voters during the period of Aug. 9 to Sept. 1. The extensive sample makes it possible not only to compare one state with another but also to examine the attitudes of various parts of the population, based on age, gender, ideology, education and economic standing.

Let's see, what might be missing from that list of key variables? Hint, we are talking about a factor that in recent decades -- roughly post Roe v. Wade -- has proven to be a powerful factor in predicting how Americans will behave at the polls.

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For fun, let's try — one more time — to make sense of Donald Trump's evangelical support

For fun, let's try — one more time — to make sense of Donald Trump's evangelical support

Over the weekend, I partied like a journalist.

No, I'm not talking about celebrating the best picture Oscar for "Spotlight," although I thought that was pretty cool.

Rather, I'm referring to the column I wrote comparing the 2016 Republican presidential race to the wrestling shows I watched as a kid. (We newspaper writers do like to amuse ourselves.)

In a more serious take, I tackled this question in a piece for The Christian Chronicle:

In the year of Trump, do values, character matter to Christian voters?

Over at the New York Times, Sunday's newspaper likewise explored the phenomenon of Trump winning the hearts of evangelical voters. Given that I covered the same Oklahoma City rally as the Times, I called dibs on critiquing the piece for GetReligion.

"Go for it," editor Terry Mattingly replied. "You can link to the previous 28 posts. ;-)"

OK, boss, if you insist.

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New York Times goes looking for 'conservatives' in Big Apple, but ignores pews

New York Times goes looking for 'conservatives' in Big Apple, but ignores pews

To no one's surprise, The New York Times decided to follow up on the Sen. Ted Cruz vs. Donald Trump row over "New York values" and the question of whether many "conservatives" come out of New York City.

But before we get to that story -- "Young Republicans in New York" -- let me make a few comments that are central to my take on this Times feature.

When if comes to "values" issues, not all Republicans are "conservatives." At the same time, not all values "conservatives" are Republicans. There are still a few cultural conservatives in the Democratic Party and many of them are people of color.

Meanwhile, not all religious believers are Republicans or "values" conservatives. It is quite easy, these days, to find young evangelicals who are not "values" conservatives, or at least not on every issue. It is very hard to fit pro-Catechism Catholics into either major political party these days.

To name one specific policy complication linked to this Times story: There are many conservative religious believers who support same-sex marriage, or same-sex civil unions, but also support efforts to protect the First Amendment and the free exercise of religious beliefs in settings outside the doors of religious sanctuaries.

So with all of that in mind, does it surprise you to know that the one and only place the Times team when to find New York City "conservatives" on "values" issues was a political gathering? This is especially tragic in light of the fact that New York City is, these days, a vibrant city in terms of religious congregations appealing to young believers.

But first, here is the overture:

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Bible-thumping playboy: Associated Press explores faith, contradictions of Donald Trump

Bible-thumping playboy: Associated Press explores faith, contradictions of Donald Trump

Here in my home state of Oklahoma, Popemania couldn't trump The Donald.

Local newscasts provided nonstop coverage last week as Donald Trump came to speak at the Oklahoma State Fair.

I was amazed and amused.

(I immediately felt my age when I had to explain the O.J. reference to my teenagers.)

Of course, Trump's religion — or lack thereof — has inspired both humor and dismay as the Republican presidential contender has gained surprising support among some conservative Christians.

On the same day that Trump visited the Sooner State, The Associated Press published what impressed me as a smart, nuanced take on Trump and religion (particularly given the space constraints of a wire story).

The lede:

WASHINGTON (AP) — Donald Trump recently showed up at a gathering of Iowa conservative Christian voters with a copy of the Bible in hand.
"See, I'm better than you thought," he said. Then came a black-and-white photograph from his confirmation to further prove his Christian cred.
"Nobody believes this," he said to laughs. "What went wrong?"

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