Right Milks ‘Values Voter’ Stereotype, But Ignores Reality

Daniel Allott, a policy analyst for Gary Bauer’s group American Values, claims that liberals were “conspicuously absent” from last weekend’s Values Voter Summit, a gathering of the Religious Right and prominent Republican politicians where speakers from Rep. Mike Pence (R-Indiana) to James Dobson encouraged right-wing activists to work to preserve the Republican majority in Congress in November. Leaving aside the fine point that those who disagree strongly with the far Right – such as this blog – were in fact in attendance, Allott goes on to assert that liberals and Democrats are alienated from “religious voters.” “Despite the left’s recent values offensive, the ‘God gap’ is actually growing!” he writes.

But as a recent poll from PFAW Foundation’s Center for American Values in Public Life shows – despite years of efforts by the far Right to portray liberals as openly hostile to Christians – the difference is scant, with 16 percent believing Democrats unfriendly to religion and 13 percent believing Republicans unfriendly to religion.

Nevertheless, Allott goes on to claim that the reason for this purported “God gap” is that liberals “have yet to support the policies people of faith care most about” – citing abortion as an example, and claiming that interest groups who support choice, such as PFAW, are “actively seek[ing] to undermine religious freedom and family values.” Therefore, the argument goes, “values voters” shun Democrats at the polls.

But as the Center for American Values poll shows, when Americans are “voting their values,” they’re not talking about abortion (3%) or gay marriage, another bugbear cited constantly by speakers at the “Values Voter Summit” (9%). They’re talking about honest, integrity, and responsibility (39%); poverty and health care (23%); and protecting individual freedoms (21%). And more than eight in ten people think leaders use religion to talk about abortion and gay marriage too much, and don’t talk enough about values like loving your neighbor and caring for the poor.