IFAS | Freedom Writer | Winter 2001 | election.html

A look back at Election 2000

While Texas Governor George W. Bush won the Christian born-again vote nationwide by a margin of 57 percent to 42 percent, Vice-President Al Gore was rapidly gaining support among these voters. According to Barna Research Group, 80 percent of the born-again votes that were decided between Labor Day and Election Day went to Gore. Gore's choice of Senator Joseph Lieberman - an observant Jew - as his running mate may have been a factor in his sudden increase in popularity among born-again Christians. (The Religion Newswriters Association picked Lieberman's vice-presidential candidacy as the top religion story of the year.)

Almost 50 million born-again Christians voted in November's election. Non-born-again voters numbered a little over 55 million. Barna Research estimates that Bush received about 7.1 million more of these votes than Gore. Polls showed that 59 percent of adults identifying themselves as born-again Christians voted, whereas 46 percent of non-born-again adults voted. Currently, according to Barna, 80 percent of adult born-again Christian adults are registered to vote, as compared to 66 percent among those not in that category.

Bush quietly courted the conservative Christian vote by making behind-closed-door promises to the Christian Right leadership. However, to avoid being demonized, Bush carefully passed up photo opportunities with the likes of Pat Robertson or Jerry Falwell. (Instead of attending the Christian Coalition's Road to Victory conference in person he sent the Christian Coalition a videotaped speech.) They, in turn, backed him among their constituencies, hoping to cash in later by getting abortion opponents named to head two key posts - Attorney General, and Health and Human Services. Cash in they did, with two of their own in the president's cabinet. Sen. John Ashcroft - who lost his reelection bid as a senator from Missouri to a dead man - ended up as Attorney General of the United States, and Council for National Policy member Governor Tommy Thompson of Wisconsin was chosen to head Health and Human Services.

While the nation waited for the Florida recounts, Christian conservative legislators in Florida (known in the Florida legislature as the "God Squad") decided to intervene in case, after the dust settled, Al Gore won the state's electoral votes. Florida House Speaker Tom Feeney led the Religious Right legislators in a scheme to declare George W. Bush the winner of the Florida electors no matter what the outcome of the recount. "The House is prepared to act," Feeney declared. His actions became redundant when the US Supreme Court's ruled that the recount was unconstitutional.

Meanwhile, evangelical Christian legislators in Congress held workshops on how to make the most of "the plum book," a compilation of more than 3,000 positions President Bush may fill by appointment.

© 2001 Institute for First Amendment Studies, Inc.