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Only regular churchgoers remain consistently Republican

by Brad A. Greenberg

May 20, 2009 | 1:53 pm

Photo: Bay Area Houston

After the GOP’s thumping at the ballot box in November, conservative columnist Kathleen Parker opined that giving up on God—“three little letters, great big problem”—was imperative for the future of the Republican Party.

“It isn’t that culture doesn’t matter. It does. But preaching to the choir produces no converts,” she wrote. “And shifting demographics suggest that the Republican Party—and conservatism with it—eventually will die out unless religion is returned to the privacy of one’s heart where it belongs.”

Trouble is, social conservatives have become central to the GOP, and a new Gallup poll found that only regular churchgoers have remained heavily Republican:

Since the beginning of the Bush administration in 2001, the GOP has lost self-identified Republicans across the board. Only regular churchgoers, followed closely by self-identified conservatives and older Americans, have remained with the party in large numbers.

In 2001, Americans were nearly evenly split in party identification, with 45 percent identifying as or leaning Democratic, and 44 percent identifying as or leaning Republican. Those figures are now 53 percent Democratic and 39 percent Republican.

GOP losses have been particularly acute among college graduates, 18- to 29-year-olds, self-identified moderates and those who seldom or never attend church, according to Gallup.

I meet two of those three criteria. But for now I remain a reluctant Republican, eager for the Grand Old Party to return to its grand old roots.

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