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Evangelical group to spend about $40M ahead of midterm elections

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With less than two months until the midterm elections, a prominent Evangelical political advocacy nonprofit looks to spend upwards of $40 million to mobilize the Christian vote as Democrats and Republicans vie to take control of both houses of Congress this November. 

Timothy Head, executive director of the Faith & Freedom Coalition, a social conservative national grassroots organization headed by longtime Christian activist Ralph Reed, estimates that his organization will spend between $36 million and $42 million on a nationwide effort to target Christian voters. 

The organization will reach voters from a precleared list using direct mail, phone messages and home visits.

“We are engaged in 24 different states on the grassroots level,” Head told The Christian Post in an interview. “For this election cycle, we’ll actually hit 8.2 million doors in those 24 different states.”

The Nov. 8 midterm elections will determine which party controls both chambers of Congress for the final two years of President Joe Biden’s first term. All 435 U.S. House of Representatives seats will be on the ballot and 35 U.S. Senate seats. Also up for grabs are 36 governorships and more than 80% of state legislative seats.

Some states Faith & Freedom Coalition is focusing much attention on are Georgia, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin, Iowa, Texas, Colorado, Arizona, Nevada, California and Colorado. 

Of the aforementioned states, all but North Carolina have a gubernatorial election this year and all but Texas have a U.S. Senate race. Of those Senate races, Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin have Senate races classified by Real Clear Politics’ senate election tracker to be toss-ups. 

“Those U.S. Senate races and then several of the coinciding governorships are our main focuses,” Head said. 

The FiveThirtyEight Deluxe Model, which predicts the outcome of elections “based on polls, fundraising, past voting patterns” and the opinions of political experts, gives Republicans a 72% chance of taking control of the House of Representatives while giving Democrats a 71% chance of maintaining control of the U.S. Senate as of Sunday night.

Republican control of one or both chambers would impact the ability of the Biden administration to enact its desired agenda into law for the next two years.

The Faith & Freedom Coalition executive director predicted that the “U.S. House is probably looking at … between a 30 and 40 seat pickup … for Republicans.”

“Republicans will end up with between 28 and 30 governorships when this cycle is over,” Head predicted. He categorized the battle for the U.S. Senate as a “jump ball at this point” that will come down to four races in Nevada, Arizona, Georgia and Pennsylvania.

Jason Yates, CEO of My Faith Votes, a nonpartisan group that “motivates, equips and activates Christians in America to vote in every election,” told CP that they are budgeting over $3.5 million to spend on this election cycle. 

My Faith Votes has a nine-state focus where they want “to see Christians engage,” Yates said. Those states largely overlap with the states where the Faith & Freedom Coalition is focusing most of its efforts. Specifically, My Faith Votes is investing the most in Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

“We’ve got a budget of $3.5 million that we’re spending,” Yates said.

My Faith Votes held its fourth annual National Voter Registration Sunday on Sunday, two days before the annual National Voter Registration Day.

“When I learned about National Voter Registration Day, I said, ‘Well, that’s great, but let’s create National Voter Registration Sunday,'” Yates recalled.

Although My Faith Votes is concentrating its efforts in certain states, National Voter Registration Sunday is a national effort.

Yates said National Voter Registration Sunday is an opportunity to lead churches across the United States in “encouraging their congregations, their bodies of believers, to be involved and to be voting.”

My Faith Votes compiled a toolkit to assist churches that want to hold voter registration drives.

“There’s about 15 million Christians in the United States that aren’t registered to vote,” Yates said. 

Yates thinks some Christians may not be registered to vote because they believe that the separation of church and state means that they “shouldn’t be involved” in the political process. 

He believes Christians failing to vote has negative consequences, such as “a “federal deficit above $30 trillion” and higher abortion and divorce rates. 

“Those are symptoms of a government that isn’t prioritizing biblical values, and so I think there’s an incredible amount of opportunity,” he said.

“When we vacate the public square, when we leave that, what we’re doing is we’re abdicating that to people who don’t share our values. So in a sense … the regulations, the policies, the laws that are established aren’t representing biblical values. We’re not talking about becoming a theocracy in America, but we do know that our values are good.”

Yates believes that the U.S. Supreme Court’s June ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which overruled the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion nationwide, is “absolutely motivating a lot of people who want to see continued access to abortion happen.”

“What we’re seeing right now from a voter registration perspective is voter registrations for Democrats have really skyrocketed while Republican voter registration has not, and a large portion of the registrations for Democrats have been females in their 20s and 30s,” Yates said.

“I think Christians, especially those who are pro-life, need to recognize that they have a voice and that if that’s a primary issue for them, then Dobbs wasn’t a decision to sit back on our laurels if you will and do nothing or feel satisfied that the battle is over.”

Yates urged pro-life Christians to “show up.”

“If they want to know that their biblical values are being represented, they’ve got to vote this year,” Yates concluded, adding “there’s a lot of energy on both sides” of the abortion debate.

Head of Faith and Freedom Coalition assessed the current political climate as having “fairly high” enthusiasm among Christian voters.

Both Head and Yates cited concerns about crime as a prominent issue for Christian voters their organizations have spoken with.

“By a small but significant margin, it’s actually public safety and crime is the No. 1 issue so far in our phone and our door-to-door program,” Head relayed. 

Head cited “significant upticks” in the concern Faith and Freedom Coalition is hearing in urban centers “about violent crime.” He said the “violent crime uptick” becomes “a prevailing issue pretty quickly” in suburban areas due to the intensive media coverage.

“So in suburban areas, for instance, crime has not risen. It’s only in heavily urban areas, but suburban areas are obviously close to urban areas, and they’re very aware of and frankly concerned about crime kind of diffusing into those suburban areas,” Head said. 

“It’s not uncommon actually to see when there’s kind of a crime uptick in eight or 10 or 12 urban areas that the suburban areas across the country immediately become very aware and very concerned about that.”

Although homicides and rapes have decreased in some urban areas across the U.S. compared to 2021, a survey of 70 responding law enforcement agencies by the Major Cities Chiefs Association finds that violent crime has increased by 4.4%. The survey finds that the rate of violent offenses has greatly increased since before the pandemic began in 2020.

Just under 237,000 violent crimes were reported in those cities during the first half of 2022, an increase of about 44,000 violent crimes from the first half of 2019.  

Yates agreed that “security, whether it’s in our streets and just rising crime or if it’s at the border,” has emerged as a top concern for Christian voters. He also characterized the economy and abortion as key issues concerning Christian voters.

In addition to National Voter Registration Sunday, My Faith Votes launched a “Write Now Campaign” to write “letters to other Christians in these battleground states encouraging them to vote.”

“Right now, we have about 500,000 letters committed as we’ve identified Christians in these states who are not voting consistently, and we’re just sending them nonpartisan messages encouraging them to be involved and to vote,” Yates said. 

My Faith Votes also has a “Because I Care” campaign to reach students at Christian colleges and universities.

The initiative is a collaboration to help educational institutions encourage students to vote, many of whom would be first-time voters. 

Yates indicated that My Faith Votes will have a heavy footprint in media leading up to the election.

“[W]e’re going to be on radio. We’re going to be on TV providing [public service announcements] encouraging the body of Christ to be voting,” he said. 

The My Faith Votes website offers a resource called “My Voter Hub,” which Yates described as “the most comprehensive set of resources for the Christian voter.”

The resource allows Christian voters to check their registration status, register to vote and access a “personalized online voter guide that covers every ZIP code in the United States from federal down to local elections.”

Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at: [email protected]

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