WASHINGTON - As presidential hopefuls chase after votes in every nook and cranny, a Christian author pointed to a significant voting block they might have overlooked.
Candidates, to their credit, have persistently pursued evangelical caucus-goers and primary voters without rest as they play a major role in determining the results in several early voting states. However, the author of Understanding Evangelicals: A Guide to Jesusland highlighted a potentially untapped reservoir of evangelical voters.
"As I wrote in my book, the nearly 7 million evangelical voters who did not vote in 2004 are the prize to win, not the 'undecided' or 'independent voters,'" David Jeffers contends.
Not only is this a sizable voting block, but the lay preacher is quick to point out their ability to self-mobilize votes with their effective "alternative media."
"Evangelicals have a strong information network that includes homeschooling moms, e-mail traffic, and Christian bloggers," Jeffers noted.
Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee is a prime example of someone who has capitalized on the evangelical vote. He scored an overwhelming win in Iowa this week despite being short on cash and full-time staff because of a grassroots organization of evangelical networks.
On Thursday night, 3 out of every 5 Republican caucus-goers in Iowa were self-described born-again or evangelical Christians, according to CNN. The former Baptist preacher turned politician credits as many as 80 percent of his supporters from self-identified evangelicals, according to entrance polls.
"I think the evangelical Christians came out for him (Huckabee); the message was very clear," commented CNN contributor William Bennett.
Huckabee had spoken at dozens of churches on his campaign trail and to prominent evangelical movement leaders such as activist Rick Scarborough and televangelist Kenneth Copeland.
Focus on the Family Action Chairman James C. Dobson released a statement Friday, rejecting the media's portrayal of values voters as disengaged and testifying to the power of the evangelical vote.
"The results of the Iowa caucuses reveal that conservative Christians remain a powerful force in American politics," he stated. "The former governor may not become the Republican nominee, and I have not endorsed him, but what happened there last night was evidence of an energized and highly motivated conservative community."
Huckabee has received the endorsement of the Rev. Dr. Donald E. Wildmon, founder and chairman of the American Family Association; Jerry Falwell, Jr., the chancellor of Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., and son of the late evangelist and founder of the Moral Majority Dr. Jerry Falwell; and Jerry Jenkins and Tim LaHaye, author of the popular Left Behind series, among others.
Author David Jeffers predicts that the evangelical vote will be the decided factor in the 2008 election.