In the past two presidential races, evangelical voters have given a margin of victory to President Bush, and now pollsters and experts are handicapping the candidates to predict who will get the evangelical vote.
But evangelicalism doesn't function like an AFL-CIO, granting endorsements and delivering votes on election day. There isn't an evangelical vote. We are not some pious voting bloc up for grabs. Regardless of how pollsters might pigeonhole us, evangelicals come from across a broad spectrum of societypragmatic, purist, and in-between. At least since the 1968 race, in which Richard Nixon was elected, individual evangelicals have voted for candidates who best mirror our core values and concerns and seemed credible (at the time at least). If evangelicals functioned as a voting bloc, Pat Robertson would have in 1988 soundly defeated then-Vice President George H. W. Bush for the Republican nomination. But Robertson failed, as did evangelical activist Gary Bauer after him, in the 2000 presidential race.
It is also a mistake to think that evangelicals are burned out and will this year sit on their hands in their pews. Hardly. But we get as tired as the next person of the way politicians and interest groupsincluding religious interest groups, left and righttry to manipulate our vote. And like most groups, we get frustrated when our political system is unable to produce a candidate we can support without qualification: there are compromises that must be made with every candidate.
While evangelicals favor different policy proposals and solutions, we are remarkably united on the issues the next President and Congress should address. In 2004, the National Association of Evangelicals approved a landmark document, ...