- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 7, 2002

A mobilized conservative religious vote probably swept Republicans to victory in Georgia and the Carolinas on Tuesday and pro-life Catholics and Protestants made the difference for the GOP in Missouri, political analysts said yesterday.
Exit-poll data from Voter News Service that asks voter religious affiliations and values is not yet available, but election-watchers nevertheless pegged some victories to religious-motived voting.
"We were very happy that 74 percent of religious conservatives voted for the pro-life Saxby Chambliss for U.S. senator in Georgia," said Ronn Torossian, media director for the Christian Coalition. "Our voter guides had a great influence."
John Green, an analyst of religion and voting patterns at the University of Akron in Akron, Ohio, said Republican victories for the U.S. Senate in North and South Carolina turned on similarly motivated voters.
This year, the coalition posted voter guides on the Internet and urged supporters to download and print them for distribution, saving considerable amount of money compared to the 2000 presidential race, when a claimed 75 million color glossy guides were printed and shipped.
"Many of the races were so close that I think people wanted to get out and make a difference," Mr. Torossian said.
He said that taxes and issues surrounding marriage and abortion were motivating topics and argued that groups like the coalition, formed in 1989, have not lost their influence. "We are going to continue to lobby on these topics with Congress," he said.
Deal Hudson, publisher of Crisis magazine and analyst of Catholics in the GOP, cited Fox News exit polls showing that 16 percent of voters saying they were in the "conservative Christian political movement," most of them Republicans.
After the economy, abortion was the next topic picked by Missouri voters as the "issue that matters most," and 80 percent of voters picking that concern were Republican.
"To win on the pro-life issue, you have to take it state by state," Mr. Hudson said, noting several House candidates whose pro-life stance paid off.
But even with a Republican majority in Congress, Mr. Hudson said, "It's important for Christian conservatives, which includes many Catholics, not to expect the moon" on pro-life legislation.
"We have to be prudent and work, with Democratic allies, to bring this along; otherwise, there will be a future payback, and that's not good for the country," he said.
Mr. Green said the full-time national agenda of the Christian Coalition has changed into a more focused and periodic organizing of votes around key races.
"I know that they were very active under various guises," he said. "The Christian Coalition seemed to get a second wind as the election approached."
While many religious leaders have stirred a debate on the morality of a pre-emptive strike on Iraq, it did not seem to be a moral issue for religious-minded voters, Mr. Green said.
"I don't think the prospect of war in Iraq had much effect on this election," he said. "That's been a debate in the more elite religious circles, and I think even people who attended churches are mostly concerned about national security."

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