Iraq, Mark Foley and the GOP's "God gap"

The GOP loses its edge among weekly churchgoers.

Published October 6, 2006 1:17PM (EDT)

It's not just Mark Foley, but the Washington Post reports this morning that the Republicans' "God gap" appears to be shrinking. Voters who've backed the GOP in recent years because they agree with the party's position on social issues like abortion and gay marriage are thinking twice because of the war in Iraq, because of what some of them see as a failure to deliver the spoils they thought they had coming and because of the way that House leaders have handled the House page scandal.

The Post offers lots of anecdotal evidence, but the polling from the Pew Research Center strikes us as the most compelling piece of the argument. While Republicans still hold what the Post calls a "commanding lead" among people who attend church more than once a week, Republicans and Democrats are now in a dead heat when it comes to vying for the favor of weekly churchgoers. Two years ago, the Post notes, Republicans held a double-digit lead among those voters.

We don't know how much of a toll Foleygate will take over the long run, but the war in Iraq is clearly a drag on the GOP's support now. Among white evangelical Protestants, the Post says, support for the war in Iraq has dropped 13 points -- from 68 percent to 55 percent -- over the course of the last month alone.

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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