McCain is going to have to do a lot more pandering if he’s going to win over the evangelicals. After McCain’s performance yesterday at CPAC, it’s clear that McCain is quite capable of doing the necessary pandering to win them over:
“It’s possible that the lack of enthusiasm for McCain could lead to a lower turnout among evangelicals in the fall,” said Scott Keeter of the Pew Research Center.
That scenario could tilt the election in favor of the Democrats as Republicans have come to rely heavily on an evangelical community energized to get out and vote by its opposition to abortion rights and gay rights.
Their vote was widely seen as the difference for President George W. Bush in his two successful White House runs.
“Anything short of a fully engaged and mobilized Republican base will spell disaster for the Republican nominee,” said Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, a conservative lobby group with strong evangelical ties.
“Evangelicals do more than vote … they volunteer, they work in campaigns. They’ll do volunteer phone work and pass out flyers,” he said.
Evangelicals comprise about a fifth of the U.S. population and according to Pew surveys account for at least a third of the Republican electorate, giving them serious clout in politics.
At some point, McCain is going to have to decide how hard he is willing to go to win over his own party’s base. Looks like McCain has to go pretty far because he can’t win without them.