Will the Culture War Matter on Election Day?

Source Organization: Pew Research Center

Speaker: Todd Gitlin and Yuval Levin

Venue: Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life

10/02/2008 - For much of the presidential campaign, it has appeared that moral values issues would play only a small role in the November election. Indeed, at various points both Barack Obama and John McCain shied away from talking about abortion, same-sex marriage and other "culture war" issues.

But the selection of Sarah Palin as the Republican Party's vice presidential candidate and Catholic bishops' criticism of Joe Biden's comments on when life begins have increased the attention paid to culture war issues.

If the candidates focus more on these issues, will it help or hurt them with voters? Will the national and global economic difficulties introduce new definitions of the culture war?

Just a few weeks before Election Day, the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life invited two culture war experts and a group of leading journalists to explore these questions in depth.

Todd Gitlin, Professor of Journalism and Sociology, Columbia University

Yuval Levin, Hertog Fellow and Director of the Bioethics and American Democracy Program, Ethics and Public Policy Center

Luis Lugo, Director, Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life

Event Transcript:

Luis Lugo: Good afternoon to all of you, and thank you for joining us today. I’m Luis Lugo, director of the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, which is a project of the Pew Research Center. The Center, as many of you know, is a nonpartisan organization and does not take positions on issues or policy debates.

This luncheon is part of the Forum’s mission of bringing together journalists and policy leaders to discuss timely topics at the intersection of religion and public life. I’m pleased to welcome you today to a discussion on culture war issues and the presidential campaign.

According to a recent Forum survey, [ ] culture war issues such as abortion and gay marriage are not as important to voters this time around as those issues were in 2004. But they still matter, and they matter a lot, to important segments of the American electorate. At this point in the campaign, of course, it’s all Wall Street all the time. But sooner or later, whether before the election, maybe even tonight in the vice presidential debate, or after the new administration takes over, these issues are bound to resurface in a significant way.

Read the full transcript Will the Culture War Matter on Election Day? on the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life Web site.

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