Rumors of the demise of socially conservative voters in elections are grossly exaggerated, says the operating head of the Faith and Freedom Coalition. As evidence, he pointed to the landslide (56 percent to 44 percent) win Saturday of Republican Rep. Bill Cassidy in the Louisiana runoff election against three-term Sen. Mary Landrieu.
"Over 80,000 of the roughly 245,000 early voters were those contacted by us in Louisiana," F&F Executive Director Tim Head told Newsmax on Monday. "That’s one third of the total number of early voters.
"And you saw the double-digit lead in early votes that Cassidy rolled up over Landrieu."
Founded by longtime Republican strategist and past Christian Coalition head Ralph Reed, Faith and Freedom in two years has built a file of 22.3 million evangelical Christians and faithful Roman Catholic voters nationwide. Combining the high-tech data of the information age with old-fashioned "shoe leather," the group spread guides illustrating the voting records of Cassidy and Landrieu on key family issues throughout the Pelican State.
Head, a former district aide to Rep. Bill Flores (R.-Texas) who took up his assignment with F&F weeks ago, emphasized that his is an educational group and does not endorse candidates.
"We just try to educate and mobilize voters with the data we collected."
In the Louisiana contest, "the data we collected" consisted of votes each major candidate in Congress had made on eight issues that F&F determined were important to values voters. Among the votes were those dealing with the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), the Balanced Budget Amendment, abortion-on-demand, cutting money from Medicare, and marriage.
"Historically, candidates differ on three or four out of eight of issues such as this," Head said, "but in this case, Cassidy and Landrieu voted the opposite way on every issue."
Voter guides were distributed through the mail and email, and by Faith and Freedom members knocking on roughly 58,000 doors. In addition, churches distributed the guides "by either having them in the pews or at the entrance," said Head.
The total cost of the group’s Louisiana effort, he estimated, "was about $200,000."
The Louisiana Senate race was what one of what F&F strategist call their "Big Four" — four states with Senate races in 2014. Head noted that in 19 states the group primarily used social media to get out the records of candidates and deployed voter guides in 31 states.
"And we had a ground game in Colorado, Iowa, North Carolina and Louisiana, in which we had an uptake in November and December because it was the only race left," said Head.
The efforts of Faith and Freedom come as a poll by Public Opinion Strategies showed that self-identified conservative Christians made up 32 percent of the electorate and voted 86 percent Republican and only 12 percent Democrat.
These voters contributed roughly 52.4 percent of all the votes received by Republican candidates. White evangelicals, meanwhile, made up 23 percent of the electorate and voted 82 percent Republican and 18 percent Democratic, according to the survey.
"Conservative voters of faith were the largest constituency in the electorate in 2014," Ralph Reed told reporters on the day after the election. "Religious conservative voters and the issues they care about are here to stay. They will be equally vital in 2016.
"Politicians of both parties ignore this constituency at their peril."
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.
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