Deal W. Hudson
Well, the dust has finally begun to settle from the election flurry earlier this week. Now that things are starting to clear up, it’s time for us to step back and assess the situation.
There certainly were some unexpected upsets, but what I think was the most unexpected – and the most encouraging – was the surprise victory of conservative Christian values.
Because the mainstream media isn’t happy with these results (and doesn’t seem to want to report them), I thought I’d do an election round-up of my own, focusing on those races and numbers that you might not have seen in the paper. In my mind, these are the real victories from Tuesday, and the people and places to watch in the upcoming term.
It was surprising, even to me, how large a role the issue of abortion played in deciding some key elections. According to Pro-Life Infonet (www.prolifeinfo.org), eight of the top ten Senate races in the country went to pro-life candidates, and other pro-life incumbents managed to keep their seats as well. Two-thirds of the newly elected House officials are also pro-life.
Compare this to the results of candidates sponsored by EMILY’s List – a veritable who’s who of pro-abortion politicians – who lost 17 of the 22 candidates they sponsored. It wasn’t a good year to be pro-choice.
Exit-polls conducted by sources such as Fox News confirmed that many voters had abortion on their minds when they went to the polls – and the overwhelming majority of those voters were pro-life.
Case in point: In Missouri, 17 percent of voters said abortion was their number one concern, second only to the economy (21 percent), in voting for a senator. Of those 17 percent, 80 percent voted for pro-life candidate Jim Talent over incumbent pro-choice Senator Jean Carnahan. Some credit this important vote to Talent’s upset win; the legislative director of National Right to Life said, “It would certainly be fair to say Sen. Carnahan was defeated on the pro-life issue.”
Other states saw similar results. Fourteen percent of Minnesota voters said abortion was their top concern, the third-highest single issue named. Nine percent of the voters in Georgia felt the same way. Of these voters, the vast majority voted for pro-life candidates – candidates that went on to big wins.
Hawaii and Nevada had crucial wins for life, too. Hawaii’s previous governor was pushing a bill that would make them the second state to legalize assisted suicide. Instead, voters chose his challenger, Laura Lingle, who has promised to veto any such bill in the future. Voters in Nevada also said a decisive “no” to homosexual marriages, another win for the culture of life.
Catholics in particular made a strong showing at the polls. In Florida, 26% of the voters were Catholic, the highest single denomination voting. Many other key states in this election saw huge voter turnout from Catholics, and now these states have solid pro-life representatives.
That’s not to say that there weren’t some heavy losses. It’s disappointing to see pro-abortion “Catholic” Jennifer Granholm win her bid for governor in Michigan. After so much controversy surrounding her campaign, I can’t help but wonder if things might have gone differently had Cardinal Maida taken a more forceful stand against her decidedly anti-Catholic position.
Maida might have taken a lead from Bishop Blaise Cupich of Rapid City, South Dakota, who spoke strongly against (and directly to) Tom Daschle in his support of NARAL. Bishop Cupich wrote a letter to be read at every church in his diocese last Sunday where he made it very clear that supporting NARAL, or any pro-choice candidate, was out of the question.
“Catholic people are not single issue voters,” he said. “We do care about the sick and the elderly, the homeless, the poor, education, security and world peace. But if the senator, as the leader of his party, wants to make abortion the single issue in this year’s election, then we are ready to let him and those who support him know this week and in the months and years to come where we stand.”
It looks like Bishop Cupich was right. Whatever other issues we may disagree on, conservative Christians will always rally to the side of life. And when they do, they make for a pretty intimidating constituency, because you can bet they’ll vote their conscience.
Now I know that we can’t expect radical changes over night. It’ll take a lot of time and a lot of patience for these votes to come to fruition in legislation that will protect life. But in the meantime, conservative Christians have shown the country that there are more of us than they thought, and we aren’t going away. In the case of this year’s election, at least, we definitely made a real difference.