What happened to the Democrats' emphasis on reaching out to the religious left, as they did in 2008? That's what David Gibson at Politics Daily wants to know.
Of the many reasons cited for the Election Day "shellacking" administered by Republicans to President Obama and the Democrats, perhaps none is as puzzling to political analysts -- or as maddening to religious progressives who put so much faith and work into Obama's success -- than the Democrats' failure to mobilize the Religious Left and reach out to conservative believers.
To be sure, little was going the Democrats' way this fall, and it would have taken something on the order of an Old Testament miracle -- say, the sun standing still until employment numbers improved -- to forestall serious midterm losses last week.
But the reality is that after making great strides since 2004 in mobilizing religious progressives and convincing some Republican-leaning evangelical and Catholic churchgoers that they could safely vote Democratic, the party punted on faith-based outreach after the 2008 vote. It came back to haunt them this year as religious voters abandoned Democrats at a rate higher than that of the rest of the electorate and many of the religious progressives who turned out in force in 2008 stayed home.
"Unfortunately, once Democrats took power, instead of building on our success, we went back to the political strategies that had failed us in the past," Eric Sapp, a partner at Eleison Group, a consulting firm that worked on religious outreach for dozens of Democratic campaigns in 2006 and 2008, wrote in a post-mortem at The Huffington Post. "Funding and staff were routed away from faith and values work and directly almost exclusively into base turnout. And the results were disastrous."
Read the rest of Gibson's analysis here.
James Martin, SJ