Democrats claim to have an unprecedented, promising opportunity to expand their voter base into previously uncharted territory — religious voters.

Republicans have long walked in lock step with the loudest and most influential voices in the American religious sphere, professing a monopoly on the faith-based values that drive the decisions of millions of religious voters.

But eager to leave no stone unturned as they peruse the electorate for 2012 supporters, Democrats are setting out to court faith-based voters by connecting their policies on economic issues to the values of equality, tolerance and humanitarianism.

They’re backed up by evidence showing that social issues such as abortion, where Republicans perform better among religious Americans, are taking a back seat to concerns over unemployment and poverty.

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