President Bush and the Republicans have seen better days. Dubya’s approval ratings are looking bad, and his administration is mired in the Plame leak scandal. High-ranking GOPers Tom Delay and Bill Frist are under investigation for financial dealings. And the casualties in Iraq keep mounting. But any short term advantage the Democrats have could turn out to be short lived because of some fundamental facts about the voters in the country. That is the theme of this article by James Pinkerton (via RealClearPolitics). He comments on the paper “The Politics of Polarization” by Democrats, William Galston and Elaine Kamarck. According to their paper, a “great sorting out” has resulted in conservative and religious believers migrating to the Republican party while liberals and secular voters moved to the Democratic party. And the self-described conservatives outnumber the self-described liberals 34% to 21%. That is bad enough for the Democratic party without taking into account that many political moderates have more conservative views on social issues such as gay marriage. From Pinkerton’s article:

As Galston and Kamarck observe, religion and the social-issue controversies it raises have been “the overriding factor” in the realignment of the parties – or, to put it more bluntly, the shrinkage of the Democratic Party. The authors regret this shrinking but don’t see a reversal so long as their party is seen as anti-religious.

The perception of anti-religious sentiment is particularly bothersome for the Democrats considering the large numbers of religious voters in the country. Now it is certainly not the case that all or even most Democrats are hostile to religion. However, there are enough instances of anti-religious rhetoric from Democrats and liberals to cause problems for the party. A good example of this is Mark Morford’s column belittling an Arkansas couple who have 16 children.

Now most people would find the Duggar family at least a little odd. I saw a documentary on them which was filmed while they were expecting their 15th bundle of joy. And I found myself wondering what the couple was smoking multiple times throughout the show. I don’t understand why someone would want to have a family so large that it required the older children to “buddy up” with a younger sibling just to keep things running smoothly. But I finally decided that if the couple could provide for all the kids and they were content, it really wasn’t any of my business.

But Mr. Morford doesn’t have as much of a “live and let live” attitude about it. In fact, he seems downright offended that Mrs. Duggar has chosen to exercise her reproductive choice this way. And while attacking the Duggars, he repeatedly makes references to religion, describing them as “18 spotless white hyperreligious interchangeable people with alarmingly bad hair”. Later he asks, “Why does this sort of bizarre hyperbreeding only seem to afflict antiseptic megareligious families from the Midwest?” He seems troubled by the fact that there isn’t a counterweight to families such as the Duggers and asks, “Where is the liberal, spiritualized, pro-sex flip side?”. (Seems like you have to be pretty pro-sex to have 16 kids.)

While there are anti-religious Republicans as well, one is far more likely to see snarky attitudes about a “massive brood of cookie-cutter Christian kidbots” from liberals. And religious voters notice, non-religious voters too. That is why only 29% of Americans see the Democratic party as religion-friendly compared to the 55% who see the Republicans as such.

(Morford column via LaShawn Barber)