Vision of faith-free US politics

map jesuslandIf you want to see what American life looks like through the eyes of the Los Angeles Times political specialists, then by all means click here. The headline on the story: "Obama and McCain in a statistical tie -- A Times/Bloomberg poll finds that Obama shows few signs of winning new voters. The issue of experience goes McCain's way." The intersection of faith and politics -- like it or not -- is big news right now. (By the way, my quick take on that Pew Forum study. I want to know what the word "politics" means, in the headline, "More Americans Question Religion's Role in Politics." Do more believers want their church silent on the candidates or on the moral and religious issues involved in these races? How can churches stay silent on the later?)

But to my amazement, the Los Angeles Times recently published a long, and very interesting, piece on the current race and, lo and behold, there is no religion involved in this picture at all. The lede:

John McCain has begun rallying dispirited Republicans behind him, while Democratic rival Barack Obama has made scant progress building new support, leaving the presidential race statistically tied, according to a new Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll.

The survey highlights Obama's vulnerability on the question of his readiness to lead the nation. Less than half of the registered voters polled think the first-term Illinois senator has the "right" experience to be president, while 80% believe McCain, a four-term senator, does.

The poll also illustrates some racial undercurrents that confront Obama as he strives to become the first African American president. Nine percent of voters say they would feel uncomfortable voting for a black candidate. Most voters say they know people who feel that way. About one in six say the country is not ready to elect a black president.

OK, the race issue is important, too. But read on and on and on.

Am I missing something? I also know that money is important:

For now, voters favor Obama on the economy, the issue they rank as most important. Also, independents, a crucial swing bloc, are leaning toward Obama. And Obama's supporters remain more enthusiastic than McCain's, a sign that the Democratic candidate may be able to turn out more voters.

It also seems that Obama is having some problems, as of late. He has stalled in winning new supporters and his negative ratings are headed up.

More striking, however, is the drop in Obama's favorable rating. It has slid from 59% to 48% since the June poll. At the same time, his negative rating has risen from 27% to 35%. The bulk of that shift stems from Republicans souring on Obama amid ferocious attacks on the Democrat by McCain and his allies.

And on and on it goes. It's amazing. And it ends in an interesting place too, on the perceptions that voters have of the two candidates and, well, their personalities.

On personal traits, just more than a third of voters agree with the statement that Obama is "too arrogant and presumptuous." Just less than a third agree with the statement that McCain, who will turn 72 next week, is too old to be president.

Well, that sounds cultural as well as political. No signs of any religious issues in this article, however.

What country are they writing about?

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