In observing John McCain distancing himself from evangelicals and social conservatives, I greatly worry. Karl Rove, the "architect" of the two George W. Bush presidential victories, knew much better.
In 2004, President Bush carried 78% of the evangelical vote based on appealing to, and aligning himself with, evangelical values. It is believed that 1 out of every 4 adults in America are evangelicals. The master strategy of Rove was if he could motivate this concentration all to vote, President Bush in theory needed only 1.23 (based on the result of 78%) people out of the remaining 3 people in America to vote for him to have a majority and the Presidency. So this translated into just over 1/3 of the remaining adults in America.
Now this 1/3 requirement is an accurate number if the rest of the American adults turned out to vote in similar patterns to the evangelicals. But we must consider, the evangelicals are the ones digging their cars out of January snow banks at 4AM in the morning to collect signatures for their candidates in Iowa. They are very motivated politically, and fiercely-reliable voters, while the majority of the other 3 out of 4 American adults are mostly moderate, at best, in their political activity.
So with this consideration, in my estimation, Bush would have then had only needed about 25-30% of the remaining adult voters to gain the Presidency. This is what Karl Rove knew, but sadly John McCain might figure out come post-November.
McCain is trading voters whom would come through a blizzard to vote if they believed in you, for hopefully an equal population of the center (by not stressing social conservative values) whom might not make it to a voting booth on Super Tuesday because of cable programming.
USA Today reports that Barack Obama is going hard after evangelicals, his campaign is smart enough to figure out this formula, and he is up to 25% support among them. John McCain is only at 57% of these voters that should have been his for the taking. With this 57%, McCain will now need close to half of the remaining 3 of out 4 voters to gain the Presidency.
McCain is thinking evangelicals have no other option to vote for. 43% of them right now are not in total agreement with McCain's arrogance. My fear is that these voters don't see McCain as someone who will support their faith, do not realize there are Supreme Court nominations hanging in the balance, and they will leave their "shovels in the garage".