Post-Election Wrap-up: Creationism’s Impact

This isn’t a detailed, state-by-state analysis of what happened on 02 November. All we’re really aware of are the few major elections that came to our attention during our daily news sweeps, using our usual search terms for The Controversy between evolution and creationism.

There were probably hundreds of creationists who escaped our notice that were elected to positions in state legislatures, school boards, city councils, etc. If such people reach critical mass — as in Louisiana — they have the potential to mandate idiocy, but the damage they do is local. That is one of the great benefits of our Federal system, where only a few powers have been ceded to the central government.

There’s no reason to assume that those positions haven’t always been filled by ignoramuses, yet we’ve somehow survived. So we’ve ignored all such contests and focused only on major political races — for state governor, for the US Senate, and for the US House of Representatives — and even then, only a few of those campaigns came to our attention.

Here’s what happened in the races we were watching, and after our little summary we’ll tell you what we make of it all.

A couple of months ago we posted our small list of Creationists on the Ballot. Of the creationists mentioned in that post (and addenda thereto), Joe Miller’s run for a Senate seat from Alaska is still undecided; Scott Tipton of Colorado won his bid for a House seat in Congress; Christine O’Donnell of Delaware was defeated for the US Senate; Marco Rubio of Florida won a Senate seat; Bill Brady lost the Governorship in Illinois; Paul LePage will be Governor of Maine; and Rick Perry will continue to be Governor of Texas.

We left one obvious creationist off our list, Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, because she seemed likely to win — and she did. We omitted Sharron Angle from our list, although we don’t know how; she lost her race for a Senate seat from Nevada. We also ignored some state governorship races where it seemed that all the candidates were creationists, e.g., in Tennessee. We forgot to mention that John Kasich, who won the governorship of Ohio, is also a creationist.

[Addendum: Somehow we missed Oklahoma’s new Republican Governor Mary Fallin. She’s another creationist.]

[2nd Addendum: We also missed Florida’s new member of the US House, Daniel Webster. See Florida Creationism: Signs and Portents.]

So we’ve got some creationist Governors (e.g., Texas, Maine, Ohio, and of course Jindal in Louisiana). [And Oklahoma too.] We’ll have some creationists in the Senate (Rubio and maybe Miller). There will probably be others in the House besides Scott Tipton from Colorado and Michele Bachmann from Minnesota [and Daniel Webster from Florida].

The good news is that the most obvious flamers (Christine O’Donnell, Sharron Angle, and Bill Brady) were defeated, and this was an election year in which it should have been relatively easy for conservative Republicans to win. Nevertheless, those lost; and the consensus of pundits we’ve heard from seems to be that a “less extreme” candidate would have done better in each race.

We shouldn’t forget that some other creationist flamers were defeated earlier in the year in various primary elections. For example, the Kansas Governor’s primary went as well as it could (the worse creationist, Joan Heffington, lost to Sam Brownback); Randy Brogdon, the creationist running for Governor in Oklahoma lost; and the same thing happened to Ron Micheli in Wyoming. Also, creationist Bruce Blakeman lost a Senate primary in New York.

Aside from those who came to our notice, there are probably loads of closeted creationists all over the place, but we don’t care — as long as they keep it in the closet.

So what do we make of all this? Are there any lessons that party professionals and even Tea Party amateurs might learn that could be useful in the future? Here are a few items that occur to us:

1. Creationism as a prominent election issue is never a sure winner, even in a party primary (except maybe in states like Louisiana, Texas, and Tennessee) If a candidate is looking for that one magic issue that will put him over the top, it’s not creationism.

2. In an easy general election contest, creationism can be irrelevant (especially if it’s not a prominent issue); but in a close election, creationism can be a loser. Thus, candidates shouldn’t emphasize their creationism, and if possible they shouldn’t make it an issue at all.

3. If creationism becomes a major issue in a close general election, it’s almost always a sure loser (Paul LePage of Maine is the sole exception).

So that’s the deal. It could have gone better; it could have gone worse. It remains to be seen if anyone ever learns anything from history.

Copyright © 2010. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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8 responses to “Post-Election Wrap-up: Creationism’s Impact

  1. A creationist almost won the governorship here in Colorado. Scary stuff.

  2. So long as creationism of all kinds continues to be understood (by experts, journalists, etc.) as pseudoscience and the province of religion, it is unlikely to really do well at the polls.

    It’s good to see that the right can make significant gains without creationism likely to advance significantly from it.

  3. Add Oklahoma’s new Republican Governor Mary Fallin to the list of creationists and anti-sciencers. When asked if she had to choose between science and religion, what would she select, she answered ‘religion.’ But the Democratic candidate gave the same answer! Oklahoma voted for Republicans in all state offices and the Repugs now substantially control both houses in the Legislature and all but one office in the Congress (and that one Blue Dog might as well be a Republican, given his votes). Many winning candidates thanked God for their victories, including the Governor and a new congressional Representative.

    I am particularly concerned with the Supt. of Education, Janet Barresi, who thinks charter schools are the answer to public education; she is likely to push voucher systems as well. We are thus likely to see even more religion in school bills, etc., than in the past. During the past 11 years such bills have been defeated by strong activist opposition, but the future looks bleak. However, strong opposition to the theocrats will continue.

  4. vhutchison says:

    Add Oklahoma’s new Republican Governor Mary Fallin to the list of creationists and anti-sciencers.

    If you say so, it’s done. I don’t know how I missed her, but somehow I did. Thanks for the input.

  5. Curmudgeon: “The good news is that the most obvious flamers (Christine O’Donnell, Sharron Angle, and Bill Brady) were defeated”

    Actually I’d prefer that flamers win than “stealth” candidates. The former will eventually shoot themselves in the foot (e.g. McLeroy), while the latter, with popular “fairness” sound bites (e.g. Jindal), might be the long range threat to science education.

    One hope I have, that is rarely ever mentioned, is that some pro-science candidates might use “fairness” language to get votes, but not follow up once in office because they privately know that, above and beyond any church-state issues, – it simply is not fair to have taxpayers pay to teach ideas that have not earned the right to be taught along side real science.

  6. A cursory geographical analysis suggest a hypothesis that Creationists can get elected in Bible belt areas, but tend to not do well in other regions of the country (at least in top of ticket races).

    LePage in ME is an obvious exception, but the three + -way nature of that contest makes analysis more complicated. It might very well be that in a two way race, he’d have lost.

    As a rule of thumb, it seems to work.

  7. @longshadow:

    I bet that the exceptions to the rule have increased since the ID strategy came along. That’s why I would pay more attention to the less “flaming” candidates, and even to those who may say science-friendly things before the election, then sell out afterwards.

    If it were just a case of Biblical creationists vs. “evolutionists,” and that is indeed how most of the public misunderstands it, I would have lost interest long ago.

  8. Gabriel Hanna

    Real losses of freedom, unrelated to religion, go on unabated. In Florida the police have been raiding barbershops and arresting people for barbering without a license.

    http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/crime/os-illegal-barbering-arrests-20101107,0,2783682.story

    In “sweeps” on Aug. 21 and Sept. 17 targeting at least nine shops, deputies arrested 37 people — the majority charged with “barbering without a license,” a misdemeanor that state records show only three other people have been jailed in Florida in the past 10 years.

    The operations were conducted without warrants, under the authority of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation inspectors, who can enter salons at will. Deputies said they found evidence of illegal activity, including guns, drugs and gambling. However, records show that during the two sweeps, and a smaller one in October, just three people were charged with anything other than a licensing violation.

    We can keep getting wee-weed up, as the President said, at hypothetical violations. But here we are, in America, where people can be arrested without warrants simply because they are cutting hair.

    I mean, it’s bad enough you need a license to cut hair, but the government can just come in and raid any barbershop without a warrant and arrest people?