The New York Times carried an article over the weekend on "Helping Democrats Find a Way to Reach the Religious," featuring Dartmouth alumna (and Rockefeller Center Board of Visitors member) Leah Daughtry '84. Leah serves as Howard Dean's chief of staff at the DNC and is spearheading the Democratic Party's religious outreach. From the article:
The drive to reach religious Americans began after Election Day 2004, when Ms. Daughtry was so distraught over reports of a Republican landslide among “values voters” — a term commonly associated with conservative Christian voters — that she commissioned a poll on the subject. For roughly half of all voters, the poll found, religion is as much an influence on how they vote as any other factor.
For Mr. Dean, seeing the poll results was a “gestalt moment.”
“People weren’t scared about losing their jobs,” Mr. Dean said. “They were scared about losing their kids, about what was on television, and about the methamphetamine lab the local sheriff had just found.”
Mr. Dean did not have a vision for how religious outreach should work, Ms. Daughtry said, “but he had a willingness to say a rare thing in this town: ‘I don’t know. You do know, so what’s the best way to do this?’”
For Ms. Daughtry, the answer had less to do with Democrats changing positions than with engaging religious voters and articulating the values behind their positions.
Although I have no partisan interest in the Democratic Party, it is reassuring to see it attempting to put together the broadest possible coalition of voters, including parts of the voting population that it had ceded almost without a contest in years past.