Focus on moral values tipped vote for Bush

The election “drew lines, it energized Catholics, it made distinctions of what is important and what is less important, and it energized faithful pew-sitters and emboldened a number of bishops,” Mr. Ruse said.

Evangelical Christians handed the White House an overwhelming mandate against abortion, same-sex “marriage” and other issues in the culture wars.

“This election demonstrates that Democratic Party leaders have moved far away from the moral consensus in America,” said the Rev. Rob Schenck, president of the National Clergy Council. “If they are to reclaim political relevancy, they will need to re-examine their positions on all the major moral issues including the sanctity of human life, the sanctity of marriage and the public acknowledgment of God.”

Conservatives credited moral issues with boosting Mr. Bush’s tally among black and Hispanic voters. The president’s share of the Hispanic vote increased from 31 percent in 2000 to 44 percent this year. The shift in the black vote was smaller — from 9 percent four years ago to 11 percent in 2004 — but may have proved decisive in Ohio, the state that ultimately tipped the election to Mr. Bush.

Sixteen percent of Ohio blacks — about 90,000 voters — cast their ballots for Mr. Bush, said Matt Daniels, president of Alliance For Marriage, which supported that state’s ballot referendum to prohibit same-sex “marriage.” If Mr. Bush’s black supporters had instead voted for Mr. Kerry, the Democrat would have won Ohio by 40,000, Mr. Daniels said.

“While the same-sex marriage issue was not the sole reason Bush won these 90,000 votes, there is strong evidence to suggest that it played a major role in Bush’s increased appeal with African-American voters in Ohio — and elsewhere,” he said.

• Cheryl Wetzstein contributed to this report.

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