Whether you are Republican, Democrat, Independent, or other, this latest survey from the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life illustrates the voting power of religious Republicans (RR's). Among registered voters who self-identified as Republican or "leans Republican" and attended worship services at least once per week, 71% still approve of the job President Bush is doing. Nationally, the number is 29%. A startling 80% of RR's believe that using force in Iraq was the right decision. Nationally, it's 40%.
The results of the Pew Center's survey raised my eyebrows. Although President Bush's approval rating has plummeted, he has maintained healthy support among religious Rep's. This is not terribly surprising, I guess, but the strength of the support is eye-popping when compared to the national numbers. I wonder what the numbers look like if the RR's are pulled from those statistics. The gap is likely even greater.
The real message here is what RR's are saying to their '08 candidates...and it's not "don't be like Bush." In fact, the message may be "four more years," at least in policy matters.
So, which is more important for Republican presidential hopefuls? To be like Bush, or to NOT be like Bush? Within their party, it may be the former if they want to win the nomination. Nationally, it may be the latter if they want to be President. At the very least, trying to be both should prove to be entertaining.