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'Moral Values' Myth

• Economy and Jobs, 20 percent.

• Moral Values, 22 percent.

"Moral values" encompass abortion, gay marriage, Hollywood's influence, the general coarsening of the culture and, for some, the morality of preemptive war. The way to logically pit this class of issues against the others would be to pit it against other classes: "war issues" or "foreign policy issues" (Iraq plus terrorism) and "economic issues" (jobs, taxes, health care, etc).

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If you pit group against group, the moral values class comes in dead last: war issues at 34 percent, economic issues variously described at 33 percent and moral values at 22 percent -- i.e., they are at least a third less salient than the others.

And we know that this is the real ranking. After all, the exit poll is just a single poll. We had dozens of polls in the run-up to the election that showed that the chief concerns were the war on terrorism, the war in Iraq and the economy.

Ah, yes. But the fallback is then to attribute Bush's victory to the gay marriage referendums that pushed Bush over the top, particularly in Ohio.

This is more nonsense. George Bush increased his vote in 2004 over 2000 by an average of 3.1 percent nationwide. In Ohio the increase was 1 percent -- less than a third of the national average. In the 11 states in which the gay marriage referendums were held, Bush increased his vote by less than he did in the 39 states that did not have the referendum. The great anti-gay surge was pure fiction.

This does not deter the myth of the Bigoted Christian Redneck from dominating the thinking of liberals and infecting the blue-state media. They need their moral superiority like oxygen, and they cannot have it cut off by mere facts. Once again they angrily claim the moral high ground, while standing in the ruins of yet another humiliating electoral defeat.

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