The Washington Post last week published an exceptionally sloppy article that imagined the nation’s churches spontaneously and miraculously rebelling from the grassroots up — against gay couples and in favor of the religious right’s moral tunnelvision. The article by Dana Milbank reported solely from a social-conservative viewpoint, offering no balance of moderate or liberal views. And it buried the roles played by Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council in inciting anger and coordinating political activities among the nation’s conservative churches.

I saw little improvement in the Post’s coverage until yesterday, when columnist E.J. Dionne finally pointed out that moderate voters, not self-described moralists, swung the election. The conservative evangelical voter turnout was proportionately no higher than the turnout for any other demographic. In other words, voter turnout was high across all cross-sections of the population.

Today, reporter Alan Cooperman digs deeper into the voter profile. A new poll acknowledges what people like Eugene Volokh and David Brooks have been saying since the election: Most voters do not confine their values to the moral relativism of the religious right. Unlike Focus on the Family, voters define morality across a broad range of issues.

Numerous bloggers have pointed out this site at the University of Michigan. It maps last week’s county-by-county voting patterns to dispel the myth that the nation is deeply divided into red and blue states. The nation’s values vary regionally, as common sense dictates, in varying shades of purple.

The maps and the moral-value poll clearly suggest a voter mandate not for George Bush, but for moderation — a characteristic not convincingly offered by either presidential candidate.

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