The Pew Center is out with a survey that suggests people are growing more disenchanted with the role of religion in politics. Says the Pew Center Web site story on the poll:
A new survey finds a narrow majority of the public saying that churches and other houses of worship should keep out of political matters and not express their views on day-to-day social and political matters. For a decade, majorities of Americans had voiced support for religious institutions speaking out on such issues.
The most interesting aspect of the survey is that the Republican response to the question has shifted to the point where the majority of those surveyed now think religious organizations should stay out of politics. A growing number also said religious conservatives have too much control over the Republican Party.
The survey would appear to conflict with the vice presidential selection process in the Republican Party. If you can believe the analysis and whispers, the choice is going to be based to a large degree on who won’t upset the evangelical Christians.
The race is now down to — reportedly — Sen. Joe Liebermann (who will play the part at the national convention later this month that Sen. Zell Miller played at the 2004 convention), Gov. Tim Pawlenty, and former Gov. Mitt Romney.
There was also speculation that Tom Ridge was in the running, but the New York Times says his position on abortion — as well as that of Lieberman’s — is a turn-off.
Within Mr. McCain’s campaign, a recent focus has been on Mr. Ridge and Mr. Lieberman. Mr. McCain thinks highly of both men and has traveled extensively with Mr. Lieberman. But Christian conservatives, a crucial Republican constituency, reacted with alarm this week to speculation that either man might join the ticket.
The same article said Romney wouldn’t fly either…
Mr. Romney, who is Mormon, might not be the easiest sell to Christian conservatives, and there remains some opposition to him among evangelical Christians.
Which leaves Pawlenty, who is described in the Times’ article only as…
… an evangelical Christian.
The Wall St. Journal also digs into the question of “acceptability” today.
The Republican Party’s base would undoubtedly appreciate a more traditional pick of someone with a conservative record on social issues such as abortion. But a more socially moderate selection could ingratiate Sen. McCain with independents — whom he has long attracted with his so-called maverick reputation, and whose vote could be crucial come November. In the latest Wall Street Journal poll of likely voters, 16% identified themselves as “strictly independent.”
As we head into both national conventions, we’ll hear more about the candidates catering to their base. One question worth asking: Is there room in the party for anyone but the base?
Are you one of the voters who doesn’t mesh completely with the base of your political party? Do you feel included?