Young evangelicals represent an important swing-voting bloc. They're not a lock for Republicans as their parents were. Their feet are firmly planted on issues dear to both parties. Traditional family values are, as they have been in the past, an important issue.
But these voters say views on abortion and homosexuality won't define them in November. The environment and social justice are moving to the forefront of their discussions.About 26 percent of the United States identifies itself as evangelical Christians in the Protestant tradition, according to the latest U.S. Religious Landscape study by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. In 2004, more than 75 percent of evangelicals cast their vote for George W. Bush.
"They delivered for him in some key states, like Ohio, without which he could not have won," said CNN's Bill Schneider, senior political analyst. "It was the rallying of the evangelical base that Karl Rove developed as a strategy, maximizing turnout among your base voters, not worrying about independents or swing voters."
But polls have shown that evangelicals as a whole, following national trends, are disaffected with Republican leadership and increasingly up for grabs.
"I would say that social justice and issues like that have definitely arisen as an important part of my faith and, because of that, it affects how I vote and think of those things definitely," said 21-year-old Walker.
She grew up in a Republican household but has switched parties and will vote for Sen. Barack Obama in November.
Widing, 20, is a registered Republican but unsure who she'll vote for.
"There are certain issues where I identify more with Republicans and other issues where I identify more with Democrats, so I really am completely undecided at this point," she said.
Eric Sapp is a founding member of the Eleison group focused on getting people of faith out to the polls for Democrats. He sees younger evangelicals as prime targets to swing.
"These voters are starting to become independent swing voters instead of a lock for either party," Sapp said. "For Democrats, also, it's a successful place because when a group had been voting four out of five Republican and they start becoming a swing constituency that also has significant electoral implications."