“”We worship an awesome God in the blue states,” Barack Obama declared during his 2004 Democratic convention keynote. Thunderous applause greeted that line, in part because Democrats felt frustrated that they’d been unfairly cast as a secular or even anti-religion party, and by the political dominance of religious conservatives.”
The Rise of the Religious Left. But clearly Obama still did not get the evangelical votes.
Ten Faith Factors for Election Night
2. Will Palin Turn Out the “Religious Right”? — By picking Sarah Palin, John McCain gambled that she’d be able to rev up the evangelical “base.” Even as her popularity has fallen generally, evangelicals still love her (some even believing she was sent to battle the anti-Christ.) Assuming most conservative evangelicals vote for McCain, the second question is: how many will show up? Point of reference: white evangelicals accounted for 23% of the electorate in 2004.
3. Do Midwestern Evangelicals Split With Their Brethren? — Recent polls have showed Obama trailing badly among evangelicals in Florida and Colorado but doing quite well with them in Michigan, Ohio and
Pennsylvania. If he succeeds there, he may have tapped into regional differences in style, theology and politics and launch a new era in faith-and-politics punditry, in which we no longer talk about “the evangelical vote” as a geographically uniform phenomenon.4. Will Catholics Ignore Their Bishops? – The overall Catholic vote has gone with the popular vote winner every election since 1968. Catholic Bishops have been urging Catholic voters to vote for pro-life candidates but a majority of Catholic voters are now pro-choice so it remains to be seen what influence the church will have. (Obama is also winning with the 100-year-old-nuns bloc) Another factor in Obama’s favor: a higher percentage of the Catholic vote will be Latino this year. Last election, George W. Bush won the Catholic 52%-46%.
5. Can Obama Finally Bowl a Strike With Skeptical White Catholics? – During the primaries, Obama did poorly with white Catholics, often working class ethnics or their offspring. Remember his feeble attempt to curry favor through bowling? They tend to be culturally conservative and haven’t voted for a Democrat since 1996. On the other hand, they’re especially concerned about the economy this year, and Joe Biden has been trying to bond with them as a fellow “cultural Catholics.” Point of reference: In 2004, Bush won 56% of white Catholics, Kerry 43%.
6. Will Whitebread Protestants Back the Black Guy? – Recent polls show Democrats gaining with a group that had leaned Republican for most of the past few decades – Mainline Protestants. It appears that while Sarah Palin energized evangelicals, she may have alienated some Mainliners. In 2004, they went for President George W. Bush 54%-46%.
7. Will Latino Protestants Vote Their Values or the Pocketbook? – One positive trend for Obama will likely be the shift of Latinos from the Republican side, where they resided in 2004, to the Democrats. The hidden religious story: most of the shift is driven by Latino Protestants. Many are evangelical and liked Bush’s Christian faith and his conservative positions on social issues (gay marriage, abortion) but have shifted to Obama because of the economy and concerns about immigration.
8. How Will the Kinda-Sorta Religious Vote? – In recent elections, the most religious you were, the more likely you were to vote Republican. This is known as the God Gap, which will still certainly exist. But watch for two things: among weekly churchoers how big is McCain’s margin? Bush won that group 61%-39% Second, Kerry last time beat Bush among more occasional churchgoers 53%-47%. Will Obama increase that margin?
9. Will Jews Schlep to Republican Side? – This only really matters in
Florida, and even there it doesn’t matter as much as you’d think (Jews made up 5% of the electorate there in 2004). Early polls had Obama struggling among Jews – in part because of fears about his former church’s connections to Louis Farrakhan — but more recently he’s caught up, possibly because Jews fear that Sarah Palin is an extreme evangelical. Or possibly the Sarah Silverman factor. Jews reportedly went about 75%-25% for Kerry.10. Will the GOP Become the ROP? – Will Republicans become the Religiously Oriented Party? In 2004, white evangelicals made up 36% of Bush voters.
Will that go up or down? If it becomes an even more dominant force within the party, how will that shape either the way McCain governs if he wins or, if he loses, how the Republicans re-invent themselves.
Carla Hinton Religion Editor http://blog.newsok.com/religionandvalues/2008/10/31/389
so what do you say about the faith factor…
Though the economy clearly was the defining issue of the election, Obama forged a new coalition by luring millions of religious left voters who had avoided Democrats in recent years.
He narrowed the God Gap. Bush beat Kerry among weekly church-goers by 61%-39%. McCain is beating Obama 54%-44% Most of that gain appears to have come from Protestants rather than Catholics
He won Catholics back. Early exit polls indicate he won 54% of the Catholic vote compared to 45% for John McCain. George W. Bush won the Catholic vote 52%-46%. Most of those gains came from Catholics who don’t attend mass weekly.
He also improved among white Catholics, according to the early exit polls. Bush got 56%-43% As of now, McCain lead by just 51%-49% This was despite an aggressive push by more than 50 Bishops to encourage Catholics to focus on abortion as the central issue.
He man real gainst among Evangelicals. Evangelicals and Born Again Christians made up a greater portion of the electorate this year than last election but that didn’t all accrue to McCain’s benefit, as predict. Obama improved slightly on a national level, getting 25% compared to Kerry’s 21%
But far more important, he made significant progress in the pivotal rustbelt states that won him the election. For instance, evangelicals flooded the polls in Ohio and Obama significantly improved on Kerry’s showing.
He attracted more Mainline Protestants — Though shifting toward the center in recent years, mainline Protestants — once a core of the Republican party — – still went for the Republicans in 2004. The exit polls didn’t ask specifically about mainline Protestants but it appears Obama improved slightly with this group.
He energized the lightly religious. Though secular voters already voted Democratic, they did so by an even bigger margin this year. Even more important, a quarter of the electorate says they go to worship services but only a few times a year. Kerry won that group with 54%-45%. Obama won 61%-38%