Obama Dreaming

Are typically “true [red], through and through” Mormons going to go blue because their man Mitt was shunned by the GOP?

That’s the wishful thinking that has traveled parts of the Bloggernacle since Mitt Romney ended his campaign last week. And as Sen. Obama has been gaining momentum as the candidate of unity and change, it appears that his personal charm is winning over a lot of unconventional supporters (heck, this former Romney campaigner and Reaganite is now making a case that Catholics should go for Obama)

The Mormon argument for Obama seems to be that since the Republican primaries “rejected” a Mormon candidate, Mormon GOP voters should vent their anger and seek revenge by supporting the Democratic candidate of hope and optimism. 

This Beehive Standard article suggests that if Obama only changed ever so slightly to the right he would be attractive to mainstream conservative Mormons and Utah – the state that gave President Bush the greatest margin of victory in 2000 and 2004 – would swing Democrat in 2008.

That will be hard for the Senator who has the most liberal voting record of 2007. As Jettboy explains very well, traditionally Republican Mormons may like Obama personally but will find his policies unpalatable.

Sen. McCain definitely lacks Obama’s charisma and appeal. He hasn’t reached out to Mormons as Obama has. But Republican Mormons are more savvy than to vote Democrat just because they feel the Republican party is dominated by anti-Mormons (which isn’t true).  Wouldn’t that be the ugliest form of identity politics?

Unless McCain picks up Huckabee as his VP pick, Utah won’t go blue in November.  If McCain does, then let’s talk.

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10 comments

  1. Chris H.’s avatar

    Utah, Idaho, and other places will surely go for the GOP no matter what. I think that real question is how much antagonism will they have towards the Dem candidate. I think many conservative Mormons view Obama the way I view McCain. I will not vote for McCain but I could tolerate his presidency. I think that this friendliness to Obama will cool long before November.

    Obama is a liberal. That is why I have supported him since he announced. The key is that he is not a jerk. That can go a long ways.

    I also do not think that his race will help amongt many of the Western state conservatives that I know.

  2. Dennis Wendt’s avatar

    This post misses a major aspect of the Mormon-Obama story, one that I have touched on repeatedly in my blog. It also makes a very oversimplified denunciation (but he’s LIBERAL!) against the allure of Obama.

    The sophisticated Mormon argument for Obama, IMO, expressed on my blog and many other places, is NOT that Mormons should vent their anger against the GOP for its rejection of a Mormon candidate. Rather, it is that (a) with Romney out, Obama has, without question, the friendliest record to Latter-day Saints out of all presidential candidates, (b) he is arguably the most family-friendly and faith-friendly candidate in the race, and (c) he speaks to a whole lot of right-leaning conservatives IN SPITE OF his liberal voting record. It has nothing to do with going Democrat (we’ll show those Republicans!), and everything to do with going Obama.

    The other thing that is not being considered is that it only takes about 15-20% to swing a state like Utah. I run into people ALL THE TIME who tell me that they and their conservative parents are planning to vote for Obama. And they ALREADY know about his liberal voting record. From my experience, there is a high correlation of Obama-supporting Mormons from those who have read Audacity of Hope and/or viewed his speech on Faith and Politics. Unlike any of the other candidates, Obama SPEAKS to the souls of Latter-day Saints, even if they don’t agree on everything.

    Also, consider that McCain beat Obama in a hypothetical Utah exit poll matchup by only 10% (and this was before Romney was out). When you add to that Obama’s continual momentum and his ground game in Utah and the rest of the West (which is quite intense for a Democrat), it at least shows an interesting argument for Obama in Utah that can not be summed up as mere “wishful thinking.” Will the support be enough to take Utah? That would be very tough — but you can’t just rule out by saying Obama is liberal.

    Check out this post from my blog for more substantive reasons why many Mormons are and probably will continue to side with Obama: http://denniswendt.blogspot.com/2008/02/mormons-and-obama-yes-we-can-no-you.html

    Then we’ll talk.

  3. David Bowie’s avatar

    “Utah” does not equate with “Mormon”.

    This includes politically, no matter what the conventional wisdom might have us believe.

  4. David H. Sundwall’s avatar

    True, David but when considering Mormons voting bloc (assuming it is even one at all) it’s only meaningful discussing it in terms of Utah.

    I’m just responding to the idea that traditionally Republican/conservative Mormons are going to all of a sudden vote for a liberal Democrat this year. The only place where those conservative Mormons are even measured is Utah.

  5. Clark Goble’s avatar

    Right now everyone is making decisions about Obama before the policy debate has really happened. After all the differences between Obama and Hilary are pretty minor. Once the primaries are over and the real election begins you’ll start to see a very different kind of debate. Right now it’s largely a ‘character’ debate.

  6. Nancy’s avatar

    I agree that McCain/Huckabee would be at least palatable. Huckabee isn’t the bigot that media has portrayed him to be with regards to Mormons. He asked one simple question and boom, he’s a bigot.
    We really need someone with conservative values, fiscally and socially.

  7. Mary’s avatar

    My reason for voting for the progressive democrats, including Obama:

    Mormon 8: 35-41

  8. Bruce Young’s avatar

    I agree that Utah is likely to go for McCain, in part because of habitual Republicanism, in part because some think Palin’s views are close to theirs. By the by, after several students wrote letters to the editor making that last point, I wrote an editorial in BYU’s Daily Universe arguing that they are wrong (see http://english2.byu.edu/faculty/youngb/politics&religion-viewpoint.doc).

    As for why a Mormon might vote Democratic and even support Obama, here’s my short answer (also see “Politics and Religion: Especially for Latter-day Saints”):

    My inclination toward the Democratic party came initially from my mother, a great woman and a faithful member of the Church. It has been confirmed over the years most strongly by my anti-war feelings. On other issues, my inclinations are divided between the parties.

    In Utah, the Republican stranglehold has been very bad for the state. That’s the verdict of some Republican leaders even. The state legislature (the Republican portion at least) has been described–by Republicans!–as being like a “sick family.” Diversity is badly needed. And ethics reform is badly needed. The issues Utah Democrats are very strong on include ethics, education, the environment, and healthcare (and they have very sensible positions on these issues). As for the national party, despite some areas where I have strong disagreement, I like Democratic stands on most of the issues I’ve just mentioned, plus foreign policy (no “bomb, bomb Iran” jokes, for instance) and civil rights (including both racial issues and civil liberties in general). My last reason for preferring Democrats is that Republicans can really be mean. I know Democrats can too. But at the national conventions, there really has been a mean, nasty tone at the last couple of ones the Republicans have held. The Democrats by contrast have been much more positive and inclusive.

    I’ve liked Obama since getting to know him–through his books and through the primary contests and beyond. I would guess I agree with McCain maybe 50-60% and with Obama maybe 70-80%. Those are just guesses. But that’s another way of saying that it’s not really black and white on the issues for me. But I do tilt toward Obama. It’s even more Obama’s character and capacity for leadership, though, that impress me.

    As for McCain, I used to like him more than I do now. He was trashed unfairly in the South Carolina primary in 2000 (which made me sympathetic). He has been willing to criticize his own party. And I’ve appreciated his stand against torture.

    My opinion of him has gone down recently. I know part of that is simply what happens when political passions run high. But it really started with his selection of Sarah Palin as a running mate. I’m sorry, but I think that was mainly a political choice; it did not accord with his previously announced claim that his top criterion would be picking somebody who would be ready to be president. His erratic behavior during the economic crisis also concerned me. Again, my interpretation (or speculation) is that it was politics again that motivated much of his odd behavior—that coupled with not being terribly savvy on economics. More than anything else I’ve been bothered by his campaign’s decision to go totally negative. He said he wouldn’t do that. And even if he hadn’t given that assurance, it would still be wrong. If he were to win as a result of using such tactics, it would cheapen his victory and damage the country.

    I call this my short answer because I’ve devoted a whole blog to these questions. You can find it at http://whyobama2008.blogspot.com/.

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