“Our voters would rather stay home than vote for half a loaf of bread,” says Bill Stephens, the executive director of the Christian Coalition of Florida. “They either want the whole loaf, or they’ll wait for next time.”
Others, like the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins, are raising the possibility of a third party candidate.
As a result, the Republican candidates are falling all over themselves to prove how pro‐life and anti‐gay they are. Mitt Romney changed almost every position he ever had. John McCain discovered he was really a Baptist. Even Rudy Giuliani begs religious conservatives not to “fear” him, and seeks out Pat Robertson’s endorsement.
There is no doubt that religious conservatives are an important part of the Republican coalition. Yet the media, and more importantly, the candidates, seem curiously unconcerned with another discontented part of that coalition: economic, small‐government conservatives.
Yet it was the Republicans’ big‐spending, big‐government ways that helped ensure their defeat in the 2006 midterm elections. It wasn’t evangelical Christians or so‐called “values voters” who deserted Republicans. Roughly 70 percent of white evangelicals and born‐again Christians voted Republican in 2006, just a fraction less than in 2004.
It was suburbanites, independents, and others who were fed up not just with the war and corruption, but also with the Republican drift toward big‐government who stayed home, or even voted Democratic, on election day 2006. That night, more than 65 percent of voters told a pollster they believed that “The Republicans used to be the party of economic growth, fiscal discipline, and limited government, but in recent years, too many Republicans in Washington have become just like the big spenders they used to oppose.”