The question of whether evangelical voters will support a pro-choice presidential candidate may be determined by another issue: the candidate's stance on the war in Iraq.
An August survey conducted by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life found that social issues like abortion and gay marriage have been eclipsed in the presidential campaign by the war in Iraq. Fifty-six percent of white evangelical Protestants said a candidate's stance on abortion and gay marriage would be important in their voting decisions. Even more, however, (66 percent) rated the war in Iraq as important to their vote.
"Terrorism may be perceived as a genuine threat to American society and its families," said John Green, senior fellow at the Pew Forum. "In the 1980s, Christian conservatives were also strong opponents of Communism and the Soviet Union." Still, Green doubts that the war on terrorism will carry more weight with values voters than social issues.
Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, said pro-family groups have always believed that America needs to be strong militarily. "And they see a totalitarian threat in radical jihadism," he said.
Like Green, Land doesn't believe that support for the war will translate into support for a pro-choice candidate like Rudy Giuliani. "If Giuliani becomes the nominee, at least a quarter of Republicans will not vote for him," he said. "The rest will vote for him as the lesser of two evils."
According to Gallup, 22 percent of pro-life Republicans say a candidate must share their pro-life position in order to get their vote, while just 8 percent of pro-choice Republicans feel similarly.
"I suspect as people enter the [voting booth], they'll have the issue of terrorism on their minds," said Tom Minnery, senior vice president of public policy at Focus on the Family. "But the right to life of the unborn child is an issue of life and death and will be paramount again this year."
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The Pew Forum published "A Portrait of Republican Social-Issue Voters" in October.
For more articles on candidates and issues in campaign 2008, see our full coverage section.
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