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Monday, December 09, 2019

Mitt Romney’s Last Hope: Evangelicals

This new ad from a group connected to Values Voters USA adds Mike Huckabee’s voice to “Test of Fire,” an Internet ad that already has over 2,000,000 views. It’s a less-than-subtle reminder that your vote on November 6 will be “recorded in eternity.”

You may be thinking: Is anyone in America who can be persuaded by this ad not already voting for Mitt Romney?

But it isn’t about persuasion, it’s about turnout.

All the fire and brimstone is a blatant attempt to jolt fundamentalists and evangelicals into thinking that 2012 isn’t just a election, it’s a question of faith. Republicans know that if evangelicals do not vote in record numbers, Mitt Romney probably cannot win Ohio, Wisconsin and Iowa — or the election.

In 2004, George W. Bush won Ohio by two points with the help of a huge evangelical turnout that was fueled by a gay marriage measure on the ballot.

“We estimate that in 2008 there were 350,000 evangelicals who didn’t vote in Ohio,” according to Ralph Reed, former head of the Christian Coalition and Georgia Republican Party and an ex-lobbyist implicated in the scandals surrounding Jack Abramoff. “Obama carried the state by 260,000.”

Reed has been a key player in the Romney campaign’s outreach to conservative Christians.

Romney seems to be getting about 70 percent of the evangelical vote as the faith community organizes around the president’s support of same-sex marriage and the the Affordable Care Act, which compels insurers to provide birth control to women.

Paul Ryan — whose views on abortion resemble those of both Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock — is also said to have fired up evangelicals. But the same claim was made about Sarah Palin.

Last month, Reverend Billy Graham endorsed Mitt Romney and then had his website erased of language that called the Church of Latter Day Saints “a cult.” The fact that evangelicals have embraced a Mormon is one of the more surprising aspects of the 2012 election. It shows the depths of the religious right’s desire to defeat President Obama.

But with the president leading in the crucial state of Ohio by a steady margin and the indication that Obama’s support may be underestimated in many polls, Mitt Romney is going to need every evangelical vote he can get.

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