From today’s Bloomberg.com:
Republicans have long put Democrats on the defensive on cultural issues such as abortion, guns and gay marriage….
Because of the “lesson of 2004,” Democrats are recruiting “values” candidates.
“There are some in the national Democratic leadership who think perhaps choice has become too much of a litmus test in the party, and it hurts them,” [Jennifer] Duffy [congressional analyst, Cook Political Report] said….
Former President Clinton held that abortion should be “safe, legal and rare,” an appeal to voters uncomfortable with abortion that didn’t compromise his support for Roe v. Wade….
(To momentarily digress, Clinton’s words were void of conviction and reality. The list is extensive of anti-life measures he enacted and pro-life measures he repelled. At any rate, if abortion is so great, so morally harmless, why should it be rare?)
Democrats have strayed from [Clinton's] formula and it has hurt them, [Marshall] Wittmann [senior fellow, Democratic Leadership Council] said. In the 2004 presidential election, more voters – 22% – said “moral values” were the most important issue than said the economy and terrorism, according to CNN exit polls.
Of those who chose values as the top issue, 80%t voted for Bush and 18% for… Kerry.
The problem was further documented in an August memo by Democracy Corps, a Democratic research organization. Focus groups found that most voters considered Democrats to be “liberal” on issues of morality, according to the memo. Some voters even used the words “immoral” or “morally bankrupt” to describe Democrats….
Particularly among non-college voters, “cultural issues not only superseded other priorities” such as Iraq and the economy, “they served as a proxy for many voters” on those issues, the memo said….