Michael Luo's politics blog The Caucus carried an interesting story about a new group, Matthew 25, working to connect Obama to evangelicals. This is an interesting and, I think, very worthwhile effort. The official Democratic Party tends to be a bit paranoid about doing anything official with evangelicals, so it makes sense to have a semi-independent group making the connections.
What interested me especially in this story was a report from John Green, one of the best quantitative religion-and-politics scholars in the country, on the specific kind of evangelical that the Obama campaign could reach.
Green estimates that of the quarter of Americans who are evangelicals, perhaps 10% are on the left, and about 40% are of the Religious Right that has been tied to the Republican Party for a generation. In the middle, though, are a centrist group making up about half the total. This is a group that has often been politically uninvolved in the past. Now, though, centrist evangelicals have been becoming more active in a new range of social issues, especially AIDS, global warming, and, most importantly, global poverty. These issues are a natural path to Democratic candidates.
Green says the centrist evangelical group is growing.