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A Tale Of Two Campaigns

AP, Sioux Center, Iowa:

Stirring her morning coffee, lifelong Republican Grace Droog voiced her doubts - and those of many evangelical voters - about what she isn't hearing from John McCain in this year's presidential election. "I look for something about his faith," she said. "It's very important, it's what our nation was founded on."...

A prosperous hamlet of 6,300, Sioux Center is home to 17 churches, 13 of them with the word "Reformed" in their name, a sign of a strong evangelical presence. In 2004, 16,000 people in the county voted, 14,000 of them for Bush....

"I think people here genuinely believe that George Bush and his Christian faith was very sincere," said Mulder. "People have said that when they talked to him, he took time to let them know how much that Christian belief meant. For McCain, I just don't think there's that same enthusiasm."

U.S. News, Zanesville, Ohio:

Randy Brinson says he "almost fell out of my chair" when he heard that expected Democratic nominee Barack Obama had chosen Zanesville, Ohio, as the setting for a recent speech in which he embraced the concept of using faith-based groups to help carry out government social service efforts. It wasn't that Zanesville struck Brinson as an odd locale. Quite the opposite. It was that Obama had clearly figured out something that Brinson already knew. "Zanesville is Ground Zero for conservative evangelicals in Ohio," says Brinson...""Where the Obama campaign is going is right on target, and that's why he's doing so well."...<

Obama's faith-based appeal has also been making traditional conservative Christian power players like Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council nervous. "I was at a conservative evangelical church in Louisiana," Perkins says, "and a man came up to me and asked: 'Barack Obama or John McCain—which way are we going?' " Perkins says he thought the man was joking, but "he was serious."

If Obama can get up into the 30s in his share of the white evangelical vote, it is going to be very hard for him to lose in November.

--Christopher Orr