Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Giving up the faith-based fight?
There is no question that African-Americans remain the strongest demographic support for Democrats. But Bush did make some slight inroads in 2004, partly because of his embrace of faith-based funding. Now we hear that the program was highly targeted, politically. If you were a faith-based program in a swing state, you had a much better chance of getting federal money. And it worked:
The administration's attention to faith-based programs in battleground states appeared to pay off.

In Florida, where record black turnout in Democratic precincts nearly put Gore in the White House in 2000, Bush's support among African Americans in November rose 6 percentage points to 13%, helping to increase the president's victory margin and avoid a repeat of the 2000 squeaker that inspired the recount.

In Wisconsin, the president drew 14% of the black vote last year, 3 points above his nationwide performance.

In all-important Ohio, Bush's vote tally among African Americans more than doubled his 2000 total, and he gained 7 percentage points to draw 16% of the black vote. If Bush had received the same proportion of black votes in Ohio as he did in 2000, the president's margin of victory would have narrowed from the actual 118,000 to about 25,000.
And this is Jim Towey, actually trying to defend the program against charges of politicism, but sounding more like a confirmation...

"If you look at where the battleground states are, it's where the action is in the faith-based initiative,"
Adding faith-based funding to school choice and gay rights, Republicans believe they have found the 3-sided leverage to pry African-Americans away from the Democratic Party, a development that would surely spell doom for the donkey for many years to come. The worst news is that Democrats believe it too:
On the eve of the presidential inauguration, US Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton last night embraced an issue some pundits say helped seal a second term for George W. Bush: acceptance of the role of faith in addressing social ills.

In a speech at a fund-raising dinner for a Boston-based organization that promotes faith-based solutions to social problems, Clinton said there has been a "false division" between faith-based approaches to social problems and respect for the separation of church of state.
Are we caving on federal funding for faith-based programs? Is it worth fighting? Is Hillary trying to shore up the base already for an '08 run?

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