Imagine you are Michael Wear, an evangelical Christian working on religious outreach for President Obama’s campaign. Your job is not only to make the case for him to other evangelicals, but to show him and other Democrats how to make that case.

And then, at work, you come to discover through little incidents like this one just how futile your job really is, on both sides of that equation:

Some of his colleagues also didn’t understand his work, he writes. He once drafted a faith-outreach fact sheet describing Obama’s views on poverty, titling it “Economic Fairness and the Least of These,” a reference to a famous teaching from Jesus in the Bible. Another staffer repeatedly deleted “the least of these,” commenting, “Is this a typo? It doesn’t make any sense to me. Who/what are ‘these’?”

This comes from an insightful interview with Wear on Democrats’ religion problem in the Atlantic. It’s well worth reading the whole thing.

The conversation suggests that Democrats tend to be either insensitive towards the religiously observant or openly and unnecessarily hostile. It’s something Wear was able to recognize from the inside, and that many evangelicals and Catholics have long recognized from the outside.

But the Democrats are not unique in having such a problem. In fact, it bears an eerie parallel to the Republicans’ dysfunctional approach to non-white voters. In both cases, the political party in question doubts the efficacy of outreach while putting on a token attempt at it. In both cases, the party’s politicians and policymakers frequently give offense simply by not understanding where the voters in question are coming from, but also at times do truly bare their fangs and show malice — Democrats toward people of faith and Republicans toward non-whites.

It’s worth noting that in the typical year, part of the calculus for the national popular vote, based on exit polling, is that Republicans will rack up somewhat larger numerical margins of victory among white evangelical Christians than Democrats among black voters. For example, in 2012, the evangelical margin was worth about 3.5 percentage points more in Mitt Romney’s total than the black margin was in Obama’s. But in 2016, Trump did a lot better than Romney with evangelicals and Clinton did worse than Obama among blacks. The result? The gap between these two groups’ contributions to the national popular vote grew to nearly seven percentage points in Republicans’ favor.

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