At the top of today's Dallas Morning News front page is a political feature heavy on anecdotes but rather short on the hard facts — especially about links to religion.
The basic storyline is that rural Democrats in Texas counties that voted heavily for President Trump face a stigma.
The big, bad Republicans, it seems, don't care much for folks who'd dare cast ballots for the other party.
Know what I mean, pardner?
My major problem with the story is that it never really provides any concrete evidence to back up its claim.
But the piece does hint at a potential better story, albeit one this report almost completely ignores. I'm talking about the fact that the counties in question used to be dominated by "'Yellow-dog' Democrats — those who would sooner vote for a dog than a Republican." (You may recall that just the other day, GetReligion editor Terry Mattingly pointed out that the late Rev. Billy Graham was a registered Democrat.)
So what happened? Is there any chance that holy ghosts are involved? More on that in a moment.
But first, see if you can spot a possible ghost in the Dallas paper's lede:
WOODVILLE, Texas — Trish Robinson was dropping off supplies for Hurricane Harvey relief efforts in Liberty County, about 40 minutes from Houston, when a handful of people scowled at her left-leaning political T-shirt.
Is there any chance — any chance at all — that the drop-off location for the relief supplies was a church? If so, might that be interesting to note?
Meanwhile, back to the shift in certain rural Texas counties from red to blue: What role might religion have played? Does it have anything (you think) about tensions between top Democrats and the few surviving cultural and religious conservatives in their tent?
This undeveloped paragraph from the Dallas Morning News story seems crucial in understanding the trend:
Mark Jones, a Rice University political scientist, said the trend was exacerbated by the national party’s shift to the left on social issues, a move that alienated more conservative Democrats.
OK, what specific social issues are we talking about?
I'm assuming that abortion would be one of them. Undoubtedly, gay rights would be another. Any chance that these Democrats do not put "religious liberty" inside scare quotes?
But strangely, the Dallas story mentions only one issue: Trump. No hint — no clue at all — is given as to what issues besides Trump might motivate Trump supporters and opponents in the counties mentioned.
Presumably, the story's major sources — such as Robinson — have some issues and beliefs that are important to them. But the Dallas Morning News fails to cover any at all, except for the fact that this allegedly besieged Democrat in rural Texas is not a Trump fan.
That makes for a shallow, frustrating and, yes, haunted (by holy ghosts, that is) read.
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