Candidates' popularity. Science v. religion...
Candidate's religion and the U.S. Constitution:
Article 6 of the U.S. Constitution states:
"No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any
office or public trust under the United States."
However, the U.S. allows individuals to freely discriminate on the basis of
religion when they decide for whom to vote. There is widespread hatred and
mistrust among American voters of candidates of minority religious affiliations:
Mistrust of Atheists is so great that non non-theists have essentially
no chance of being elected to any office if their faith becomes generally
known. There are probably many Atheist politicians, but almost all have
remained quite silent on their religious affiliation.
In the past, there was a major reluctance by many voters to vote for a
Roman Catholic candidate until J.F. Kennedy delivered a speech before the
Greater Houston Ministerial Association during the 1960 presidential
campaign. He said:
"I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is
absolute ... where no public official either requests or accepts
instructions on public policy from ... [an] ecclesiastical source."
Kennedy won over Nixon by 113,000 votes (0.1%) in spite of anti-Catholic
hatred and bigotry.
A major mistrust of Mormon candidates has surfaced recently. It is
particularly strong among some evangelical Protestants. It was
triggered by Mitt Romney's presidential campaign. Hugh Hewitt, in an address
to the Evangelical Theological Society in late 2006. identified three
religiously-based objections by some evangelicals to Mitt Romney's
candidacy. He suggested:
A Mormon president would energize Mormons missionaries globally.
The Mormon faith is irrational. 1
We suspect that the same concerns could be
expressed by any commentator about a candidate who belongs to another faith
group. It is important to realize that any religion appears to be
irrational and positively weird to many followers of another religion.
Frustration among Republican voters largely resolved:
The Pew Research Center published a fascinating report on 2007-OCT-31. They
note that the general public is mainly concerned about the war, economy health
care and education. Concern about same-sex marriage, abortion access and
terrorist attack appears to be dwindling. All of these factors may have a
negative effect on Republican candidates' results in the election.
They found that among Republican voters and those leaning towards the
46% of feel that the current slate of Republican candidates are
only fair or poor.
44% would consider bolting from the Republican party and voting for a
conservative third party candidate. Among white evangelicals, this number is
50% say that their presidential vote is more against another candidate
rather than for their candidate.
Throughout much of 2007, evangelical Christian
voters were searching for a candidate that they could support with enthusiasm.
Some were attracted to Rudy Giuliani, because he was perceived as being
the strongest candidate -- the one most likely to win the election for president. But many
could not handle what they perceived as his moral failings and his formerly
liberal views on various topics.
By late 2007-DEC, many evangelicals had settled
on Mike Huckabee. He had a surge in the polls, which he attributed to
supernatural causes. He had emphasized during his campaign his religious background
as an ordained Southern Baptist pastor, his opposition to
abortion access, his opposition to equal rights for
gays and lesbians, and his opposition to gun control. Well known is his
The 1998 Southern Baptist Convention statement that "A wife is to
submit herself graciously to the servant leadership of her husband even as
the church willingly submits to the headship of Christ." He was one of 131 leading evangelicals to sign a full-page ad in USA
Today in support of the statement.
The Convention's year 2000 statements denying women access to ordination,
stating that the Bible is "totally true," and
that "there is no salvation apart from personal faith in Jesus Christ as
Creation science and his opposition to the theory of
Entrance polls at the Iowa caucus on 2008-JAN-03 showed that such
conservative values had
outranked electability in importance. Newsweek reported that:
"Six in 10 of his backers said the most important quality in picking a
candidate was someone who shared their values, while a third of his
supporters said he says what he believes. Fewer than one in 20 said they
thought he had the best chance of winning in November. ... A significant
chunk of Huckabee supporters -- eight in 10 -- said they are born again or
evangelical Christians, compared to less than half of Romney's backers.
Nearly two-thirds of Huckabee voters also said it was very important that
their candidate share their religious beliefs, compared to about one in five
of Romney's. ... In the end, the race for the gold medal in Iowa boiled down
to message vs. money -- and message won. 13
After Super Tuesday on 2008-FEB-05, with the
withdrawal of Mitt Romney from the slate of Republican hopefuls, John McCain
appears to have a massive lead over:
Mike Huckabee who has not been able to expand his support beyond his base among
southerners and evangelicals, and
Ron Paul who has proven his ability to raise
impressive funding, but has not been able to translate this into voter support
Many in the Republican Party view McCain as a liberal. James Dobson, founder
of the fundamentalist group Focus on the Family, and arguably the most
powerful religious leader in the U.S. expressed the views of many
fundamentalists and other evangelical Christians, when he wrote:
"Should Sen. McCain capture the nomination as many assume, I believe this
general election will offer the worst choices for president in my lifetime.
I certainly can't vote for Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama
based on their virulently anti-family policy positions. If these are the
nominees in November, I simply will not cast a ballot for president for the
first time in my life." (More info.)
The vote in 2008 NOV may actually be decided by the potential voters who
simply could not support either party's candidate, and who stayed away from the
Science vs. religion aspects:
A nationally televised debate among the ten leading Republican candidates for
the presidency was held on 2007-MAY-03. A question from the floor asked if any
of them "does not believe in evolution." Three raised their hands:
Senator Sam Brownback, Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, and Colorado Rep.
Columnist Matt Henderson was not impressed by their beliefs. He said of the
three potential candidates:
"That alone should spell an immediate end to their respective
candidacies. ...It indicates that their minds have been so thoroughly
poisoned by religious literalism -- truly fundamentalism of the most
dangerous kind -- that they have lost touch with reality."
According to American Atheists:
"The debate over evolution and creationism (once confined to
fundamentalist and evangelical churches or the occasional University debate
club) has, over the last decade, swelled to become a major feature of the
culture wars. Now it is a political topic, and even a litmus test for
millions of voters. Surveys indicate that an astonishing number of
Americans no longer put trust in the scientific explanations of how life on
Earth evolved, and instead look to a literal interpretation of the Bible.
An additional oath of office:
Michael Masley is a street musician in Berkeley, CA. He has adopted a penname
of "Artist General." Since 2006, he has been bugging the media to ask political candidates
whether they would be willing to "... agree never to accept any personal
profits flowing from any military action you authorize or promote?"
Steven T Jones of the San Francisco Bay Guardian commented:
"If the question does get asked, Masley thinks Bush might do his
deer-in-headlights impression, or that he'd dodge it or lie in a way that
might touch off more media interest in the issue. After all, Vice President
Dick Cheney has profited handsomely from actions he took as Poppy Bush's
secretary of defense, most notably deciding to outsource many military
functions and then becoming CEO of Halliburton, which then got the no-bid
contracts to do that work."
"Who knows, maybe mainstream journalists might even begin questioning why
a war cabinet of Texas oilmen lied their way into occupying some of the most
oil-rich regions of the world. Or maybe that's asking too much." 9
Social and religious conservatives consider a
third party option:
By a nearly unanimous vote, the attendees decided that if neither the Republican
nor the Democratic party nominates a presidential candidate who "pledges
himself or herself to the sanctity of human life, we will join others in voting
for a minor-party candidate." There was no consensus reached on whether to
create a third party in that event. Dobson writes: "Winning the
presidential election is vitally important, but not at the expense of what we
hold most dear." 8
Our candidate for meaningless polls:
A Canadian Press/Harris Decima survey asked Canadians whether
they would support the Democratic or Republican party if they were able to vote
for president of the U.S. They favored Democrats by a margin of 49% to 12%. Even
Canadians who describe themselves as conservative favored the Democrats by a
margin of 47 to 23%. 1,000 subjects were included. The margin of error is
~+mn~ 3.1 percentage points. 14
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.