Wednesday, November 03, 2004

So you think the emphasis on "moral values" by exit-polled voters is a scary new development in American political life -- and/or a reaction to the gay-marriage movement?

Well, maybe not. Yes, many voters said moral issues were important to them in 2004 (see, e.g., the L.A. Times and CBS exit polls) -- but here's CNN's 2000 exit poll. One question asks which should be the "higher priority for president." It's an either/or question, and "managing government" was chosen by 60% of voters -- but "moral leadership" was chosen by 34%. And 70% of those who said "moral leadership" in 2000 voted for Bush.

Comparing this to the 2004 polls is an apples-and-oranges business -- the questions aren't strictly comparable. (This year's L.A. Times poll, for instance, had several choices and allowed multiple responses.) Nevertheless, it's clear that morality was on a lot of voters' minds last time around -- and Gore still won the popular vote.

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