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Posted by on Aug 31, 2005 in At TMV | 0 comments

Poll Brings Bad News For Democrats On Religion Front

President George Bush has been getting steadily bad polling news — and now it’s the Democrats’ turn:

WASHINGTON (AP) — Democrats’ efforts to improve their image with religious voters after the 2004 presidential election appear to be getting off to a bumpy start.

Fewer people see Democrats as friendly to religion now than felt that way a year ago, according to a poll released Tuesday by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press.

That number has dropped from 40 percent in August 2004 who thought the Democrats were friendly to religion to 29 percent now.

“The change is seen across all groups,” said Scott Keeter, director of survey research for the Pew Research Center, which conducted the poll for the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.

This isn’t good news for Democrats, no matter how some may downplay it. It can’t be dismissed as the natural consequence of opposing much of the social conservatives’ lets-shove-it-through agenda. It boils down to ways of communicating with religious people so they see the Demmies may differ on nuts-and-bolts, but basically share their core values. It’s a failure that could cost the party bigtime at the polls….since its an huge opening the GOP will use to its advantage in 2006 and 2008.

Not that the Democratic party has tried to ignore religious voters — something that makes these poll numbers all the more troubling for Democrats:

After Democrats fared poorly with religious voters in the 2004 election, the Democratic National Committee initiated numerous efforts to strengthen its standing with religious voters.

The DNC hired someone to coordinate religious outreach, encouraged state parties to work more closely with the religious community, and had Chairman Howard Dean meet with clergy and others in the religious community during his travels around the country.

“We’re at the beginning,” said Democratic spokeswoman Karen Finney, who said religious voters share many of the values of the Democratic Party. “But we know we need to do a better job of talking about our values in a way that people see we share their values.”

A fair statement. But time is running out since the perception, accordinig to the poll, is that 55 percent feel the GOP is friendlier to religion. And independents (a group pooh-poohed by the most partisans on both sides but clearly needed to win elections)?

A majority of political independents, 54 percent, said religious conservatives have too much influence over the GOP. Fewer than half of independents said those who are not religious have too much impact on the Democratic Party.

So if you strip all this away and stand back and look at it, you get this: the Democrats have an image problem. And one that could well cost it considerable votes. Simply relying on the downward trend in GWB’s polling isn’t a recipe for success.

A sizeable people view the Demcocratic tent as perhaps not as big as Democrats think they view it.