What else could a Presidential candidate need? Digby
makes a great catch today that I find fascinating:
In the Republican race, former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, who recently made clear his intentions to seek the presidency, has expanded his lead over Sen. John McCain of Arizona. Giuliani holds a 2 to 1 advantage over McCain among Republicans, according to the poll, more than tripling his margin of a month ago.
The principal reason was a shift among white evangelical Protestants, who now clearly favor Giuliani over McCain.
I find this surprising in one sense and not so surprising in another.
The surprising part is that the evangelical voters are exposing themselves as such hypocrites. Endorsing Guiliani over McCain makes no sense from the so-called "values" voter standpoint. Clearly it doesn't matter what Guiliani's views are on social issues or his personal behavior, which might embarrass any decent person much less the conservative religious right.
But it's not surprising when looked at pragmatically. Even evangelicals have turned against the war, and McCain is wearing that Iraq war albatross. That, plus remembering McCain's diss of the religious right back when seems to be enough to cause evangelical voters to hold their nose, favoring Guiliani. Put another way, I sense the Guiliani support is thin and more of an anti-McCain sentiment and likely an expression of just how poor the Republican field is.
Either way, the fact that Guiliani is a front runner (even this early) is a sign to me of the waning influence of the religious right. I think their influence has risen .... and peaked .... with Bush. The spotlight on, and over-emphasis of, the impact of religious right voters on the past elections has had a disinfectant effect. Plus, like any good American trend, the fad is fading. Let's hope it's not replaced with something as bad or worse.
Update: Here's an example of what I'm writing about above. Santorum is often cited as a darling of the religious right:
"The only one I wouldn't support is McCain. I don't agree with him on hardly any issues. I don't think he has the temperament and leadership ability to move the country in the right direction."
-- Former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA), in an interview with The Politico, on the 2008 Republican presidential field.