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Clinton ignored evangelicals and paid the price

President Barack Obama’s faith outreach director dings Clinton campaign for dismissing important sector of the electorate


Supporters bow their heads in prayer before Donald Trump delivers a campaign speech in Charlotte, N.C. Associated Press/Photo by Gerald Herbert

Clinton ignored evangelicals and paid the price

Reflecting on Democrats’ stunning loss last night, the former faith outreach director for President Barack Obama’s successful 2012 campaign said Hillary Clinton’s campaign made a critical mistake in ignoring evangelical voters.

“We asked for the votes of evangelicals and the Clinton campaign didn’t,” Michael Wear, who also led evangelical outreach for the faith-based office at the Obama White House, told me. “It’s a campaign, you ask for people’s votes. And Hillary asked for just about every vote except this group of voters.”

White evangelicals make up about a quarter of the electorate, and exit polls showed they voted for President-elect Donald Trump over Clinton 81-16 percent. That’s certainly not the only explanation for Trump’s political upset, but it’s one piece. Obama won 26 percent of the white evangelical vote in 2008 and 20 percent in 2012.

“Evangelicals feel embattled in this country,” Wear said. “Donald Trump’s case to evangelical voters was that he was the only one who cared about them, the only one who could save them. After we have a conversation about whether evangelicals should be looking to a politician to be saved—Hillary Clinton’s pretty historic silence toward white evangelicals, the campaign’s ignoring these voters, worked to affirm the isolation they were feeling, to affirm the case Trump was making … [her] campaign wasn’t even interested in being in the argument. That hurts.”

The Clinton campaign press office never once responded to several inquiries from WORLD reporters throughout the election cycle. Campaign officials didn’t bother because they didn’t think they needed white evangelicals. What was determinative in the election, in Wear’s analysis, was “Democrats’ assumptions about the voters they needed and the voters they didn’t need—and assumptions about what the electorate would look like.”

On that topic, Wear thinks Clinton’s position on repealing the Hyde Amendment, which alienated many evangelicals, did not work out strategically in turning out white women voters.

“Maybe pouring tens of millions of campaign dollars into how pro-choice your candidate is, maybe that’s not as motivating as some groups want to tell us it is,” Wear said.

Will last night’s results shift the Democratic Party on social issues like abortion?

“Historically midterm elections have been more difficult for Democrats, and there’s a higher percentage of older white voters,” Wear said. “So there are some very important Senate races coming up in 2018 and a position on Hyde like that will be tough. That being said, the formal opportunity to revisit the Democratic platform isn’t for four years. … I really doubt there’s going to be a movement to change.”


Emily Belz

Emily is a senior reporter for WORLD Magazine. She is a World Journalism Institute graduate and previously reported for the The New York Daily News, The Indianapolis Star, and Philanthropy magazine. Emily resides in New York City.

@emlybelz

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Leeper

Hans sounds like Mike Pence is heading up the transition team. Important role.

Kiwi

I don't think Mrs. Clinton ignored evangelicals at all.  Throughout her career, she has shown her hatred and contempt for us.  She has championed policies that take away our freedoms to proclaim God's Word to a sin-sick society.  She has championed the murder of children, she has taken blood-money from Muslim dictators to cause our government to look away as they commit genocide against christians in Africa and the Middle East. She has mocked, derided and belittled us.... and although I am not a Trump supporter, and I voted against him, she would lump me in with her basket of deplorables... you can't really call half the nation deplorable, then expect them to vote for you.

Theodore

I heartily agree.  I cannot comprehend how a disciple of Jesus could ever condone abortion.  I would also like to be able to delve into more issues but I'm mostly presented with one candidate who chooses life and one who chooses death and I have to vote for life!

I plead with You Father to bring revival to our land and our world.  Please Father.  Your Kingdom come, Your Will be done.

AMYB

I have seen remarks on social media about Clinton losing because she is a woman... and it is upsetting to me because her gender had nothing to do with why I would not vote for her! I never heard a single person say that they would not vote for her because she was a woman. I heard many say they would not vote for her for a myriad of reasons, but gender did not play a role. To play the "gender card" is so ridiculous! Thank you, WORLD, for pointing out ONE of the REAL reasons why she was not elected!! 

INFOHIGHWY

Evangelicals now know that they are like snowflakes (not the “snowflake millennials” referred to in the “safe space, micro aggression” college campus context). Snowflakes are so delicate, so light, so airy, so beautiful and dainty. However, if you get enough of them together at the same time, you can stop a locomotive! Isn’t it nice to wake up the day after the election and realize that the unity of being one in Christ can lead to changes that may someday bring repentance and revival back to this broken world? Come on, kindred spirits, let it snow!