The irony of the 2008 presidential race is that this time around, the Democratic nominee is by far the more religiously devout candidate, promoting a born again language and professed faith. In a match up with John McCain, it's Barack Obama who can genuinely speak the language of evangelicals, softening some of the Democratic party's "God problem."
Indeed, news reports are speculating that many young Evangelical voters might break for Obama in the general election, a proposition that fits with some of the recent polling data that I have spotlighted at this blog.
The Obama campaign is already actively targeting Evangelicals, priming born again voters with an emphasis on the Senator's commitment to Christ. Consider this flyer distributed at churches in Kentucky quoting Obama as asserting: "My faith teaches me that I can sit in church and pray all that I want but I won't be fulfilling God's will unless I go out and do the Lord's work."
Evangelical pundits have taken notice. As Christian Broadcasting News senior correspondent Richard Brody writes:
I know the conservative policy purists will say that Obama is liberal and therefore Evangelicals won't buy his "Evangelical speak". Not so fast. Remember, many people vote based on an emotional connection to a candidate or if they can relate to that person. Obama may need to work on this perception that he is "elite" but when he talks about Jesus and the Bible and the fact that he's a sinner, it makes him more real and in the process, more electable too.