Ralph Reed, executive director of the Christian Coalition, and Kate Michelman, president of the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League, do not agree on much. Yet their capsule analyses of last month's elections are identical: Democrats got hammered, and the Religious Right, spearheaded by the coalition, deserves much of the credit.
Indeed, few around the country would challenge this analysis. The Republicans took control of both houses of Congress for the first time in four decades. Not a single incumbent Republican senator, representative, or governor lost, while Democratic institutions such as New York's Gov. Mario Cuomo and House Speaker Tom Foley were ousted.
In state after state, candidates supported by the Religious Right emerged victorious. In Pennsylvania, conservative pro-life candidate Rick Santorum, 36, won in his Senate race against incumbent liberal Democrat Harris Wofford, 68. Re-elected candidates favored by politically conservative Christians included, in the House, Baptist pastor and Christian bookstore owner Ron Lewis (Ky.) and Gary Franks (Conn.), an African-American Republican. In the Senate, newcomers coasted to victory, including Spence Abraham (Mich.), Mike DeWine (Ohio), and John Ashcroft (Mo.), a former governor who is an outspoken Assemblies of God gospel singer.
Reed's organization distributed 33 million voter guides - nearly all at churches on the Sunday before the election. He believes the "conservative religious vote was decisive - the swing vote" in the Republican takeover.
According to the coalition's exit polls, 33 percent of those who voted were "born-again evangelicals," defined as people who attend church at least four times a month and profess to a personal conversion experience. ...1
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