It turns out that this election breaks down essentially the same as the last one – culturally conservative states in the middle of the country go Republican and culturally liberal states on the nation’s fringe go Democrat. Even with all the talk of war, terrorism and the economy, the number one deciding factor in people’s voting decision was "moral issues." As MSNBC reports,
Moral issues on the ballot
Surely it was no coincidence that on the same night that Kerry lost, voters in 11 states gave overwhelming approval to state constitutional amendments to outlaw marriages between persons of the same sex. Even in states such as Ohio and Michigan, hardly enclaves of doctrinaire social conservatism, the marriage measures won approval from three-fifths of the voters. Exit poll interviews indicated that among the one-fifth of the electorate who thought moral issues were the dominant issue in the campaign, nearly 80 percent of them voted for Bush. … A majority of voters were giving a thorough rebuke to the dictum laid down by Howard Dean last December, “We have got to stop having the campaigns run in this country based on abortion, guns, God, and gays — and start talking about education, jobs, and health care.”
The mainstream press seems mystified. They see elections as generally about money and they can’t understand how anyone could vote for morals over money. Here is a typical example from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer:
Call it the anti-Janet Jackson boob vote, if you like. The pro-gun vote, the anti-gay marriage vote or the Jesus vote. For all the strategizing in both parties on which of the key popular concerns was most likely to win the election for their candidate — would it be Iraq, terrorism or matters of the wallet — it may have been none of the above that will end up driving the final result. The trump card appears to have been moral issues. When they look back at Election 2004, political historians will see one trend above all others and it clearly worked in favor of George W. Bush and against John Kerry. Voters, especially those in the heartland states, took moral values as their core standard in deciding which candidate to support. Indeed, this may emerge as the most surprising finding to emerge from this presidential race. Even if it meant voting against their more obvious economic interests and even when they harbored misgivings about the war in Iraq, voters everywhere found themselves guided by moral issues first. Family values means less about food on the table than about God at the table. And as these questions come to the fore, so the country appears to have shifted culturally to the right. It’s striking that ballot initiatives to ban marriage for same-sex couples were before voters in 11 states — and they passed in all of them. In some, even existing domestic partnership rights will now be taken away. Perhaps the country was always thus, but either way it will give Democrats grave reason to worry. Their man was a Catholic, a war hero and yet he still failed to connect with the country’s conservative mainstream. Can a candidate with even remotely socially liberal positions ever win in the United States again? For evidence of what happened, you need look no further than Tuesday’s exit polling numbers. Most surprising, a Los Angeles Times national survey found that more than half of voters for Bush cited moral issues as the principal reason for their support. They were more important to his supporters even than terrorism. And then look at what was in the heads of Kerry supporters. By contrast, they cited the economy as their top concern over moral issues by a margin of about 2-to-1. Another survey taken in the three most important battleground states found that moral issues was first on the agenda of Bush voters in Ohio and was almost their top concern in Florida and Pennsylvania, coming second only to terrorism. The political polarization of the country, which Tuesday’s results again so vividly demonstrated, is thus also a cultural one. And deepening that division are matters of religious affiliation and degrees of religious zeal. About one-fifth of voters describe themselves as born-again Christians and on Tuesday they voted enthusiastically for Bush as "one of them," by a margin of roughly 4-to-1. Among regular churchgoers, Bush was the winner handily. Kerry fared better with occasional worshipers. It is part of what appears to have lost Florida for Kerry. The incumbent took more than half the Protestant and Catholic vote in the state — and about eight in 10 Floridians belong to one of those religions. "As a Christian, Bush upholds the morals and values that I believe the Constitution was built on," explained voter Brett Williamson, a 20-year-old student in Tallahassee. "I believe in many of the same values as he does — against same-sex marriage, and not taking God out of the Constitution," echoed Chris Pierson, a nurse in the Orlando area. For decades, the Democratic Party depended on inner-city churches, many of them Baptist with mostly black congregations, to bring out crucial chunks of support on Election Day. Now the church factor has become powerful for Republicans instead. Around the country, they were a crucial force in encouraging Bush voters to register and to vote.
This is a shock? Hilarious. This just shows how completely these journalists (and many Democrats, apparently) misunderstand religion. They treat it as something intensely subjective, personal and non-binding – a make believe comforting pacifier for the masses that should never have influence in any public arena, least of which the voting booth. That is why they are appalled whenever "faith" is brought into public policy discussions like stem cell research. For this group, religion is a personal preference that "works for you" – being an Evangelical or Catholic or Mormon is akin to enjoying working out and being a member of a fitness center. From this framework, it is understandable that the atheistic (for all intents and purposes, if not explicitly) journalists and Democratic politicians are amazed that anyone would vote against their own monetary interests to support a "religious" moral position.
However those who understand religion properly realize that it is not a psychological crutch but a worldview. That is, it is a set of beliefs that answer the big questions of our existence. Religion explains the nature of reality. It presents us with a picture of what the universe is really like. And according to almost every religion in America, that reality was created and is controlled by a righteous and holy God. As such, religious people vote morals over money because it is the most reasonable thing to do. They want to do what is right according to the one true God. They don’t vote against homosexuality because they hate gays, but because they believe God created the universe to operate a certain way and to go against God’s plan is wrong. In the same way, to kill a pre-born baby is the taking of a life that is valuable because it is created it the image of God and God doesn’t like that. It would be a grave sin and ridiculously foolish to choose a few shekels over that.