“Two Jews, a Hindu, and a born-again Christian, disillusioned after the 2004 election and troubled by the idea that their nation is bitterly divided over morality, set out to investigate the power of evangelical Christianity in American political life.”
“From Megachurches in Texas, to Music Festivals in New Hampshire to MTV protests in New York, they discover that the fanaticism characterized in the mainstream media tells only one side of a diverse and fascinating story of religion and politics.”
Remember the God gap? That supposedly unbridgable chasm that separated people of faith from the Democratic Party. Well poll numbers out of last night’s elections seem to show that this Religious Right-inspired myth has run into the hard truth of voter preference.
There will be numbers galore to crunch in the weeks ahead, but the early ones all show that the supposedly vast God gap is all but GONE. Amy Sullivan already has a piece up on this on the New Republic. Check out some of the numbers that we’ve noticed here at FPL:
All numbers are based on National Election Pool Exit Polls
Figures are based on available information. Many states do not have exit poll information for evangelicals, for example, from past elections. Please verify all numbers before using!
Given the nationalized nature of the 2006 elections, we first compare 2006 national numbers to 2004 Presidential numbers. Second, we compare 2006 national numbers to 2004 National House.
Dramatic shift of Catholic vote
- Catholic Shift, Dems win Catholic vote — 16-point shift nationally from Bush’s numbers (R52/D47) in 2004 to 55D/44R; 12-point swing nationally from 2004 National House (49D/50R).
Dramatic shift of evangelical vote
- White Evangelical Shift from 2004 President — 15-point swing nationally from Bush’s numbers in 2004 (D21/R78) to D28/R70; 7-point swing nationally from 2004 National House (25D/74R)
o Evangelicals did show up — 24% this year compared to 23% of electorate in 2004.
Shift among voters who attend religious services once a week
- 10-point shift nationally among voters who attend religious services once a week (2004 Presidential (58R/41D), up to near parity D46/R53; 8-point shift nationally from 2004 National House D42/R57.
Minimum Wage passed by 31-point average across 6 states
- All 6 Minimum Wage ballot initiatives passed by avg of 31 points
- Declining enthusiasm for their issues: First defeat of a same-sex marriage ban: AZ. Passed in 5 other states, but by an avg of 12-points less than 35-point average of 2004, with 3 more moderate states all under 10 points. NOTE: SD abortion ban failed.
- 42-point Catholic shift from Mike DeWine (R) in 2000 to those voting for Sherrod Brown (D) in 2006. There was also a 19-point swing to the Democrats compared to President Bush’s 11-point margin on the Catholic vote in 2004.
- 31-point Protestant/Christian shift from Mike DeWine (R) in 2000 to Sherrod Brown (D) in 2006. This was also a 16-point swing from President Bush’s 12-point edge with Protestant voters in 2004.
- 32-point White Protestant/Christian shift from Mike DeWine (R) in 2000 to Sherrod Brown (D) in 2006.
- 31-point shift among voters who attend religious services once a week from Mike DeWine (R) in 2000 to Sherrod Brown (D). This was also a 24-point swing from President Bush’s 28-point edge with voter who attend religious services weekly in 2004.
- 25-point Catholic shift from Rick Santorum (R) in 2000 to Bob Casey, Jr. (D) in 2006 and swing of 21 points from President Bush’s 2-point deficit on the Catholic vote in 2004.
- 22-point shift among voters who attend religious services once a week to Casey from Santorum’s margin in 2000; 14-point shift to Casey from Bush’s margin in 2004.
- 16-point Catholic shift from George Allen (R) in 2000 to Jim Webb (D) in 2006, and 25 points from President Bush in 2004.
- 14-point shift among voters who attend religious services once a week to Jim Webb from George Allen’s margin in 2000; 5 point shift to Webb from Bush in 2004.
- 11-point Catholic shift from Conrad Burns (R) in 2000 to Tester in 2006. A 15-point shift from President Bush’s numbers in 2004.
- 13-point white evangelical shift for Tester from President Bush’s numbers in 2004.
“RELIGIOUS OUTREACH BY DEMOCRATS TRUMPS REPUBLICAN VALUES-SPEAK,” heralds Jesse Lava, head of Faithful Democrats. He writes:
“One of the most significant revelations to emerge from the 2006 election is the Democrats’ enormous success with faith-based outreach. Democrats who were willing to share their faith with voters consistently exceeded expectations. Lost causes became close races. Close races became solid victories. Solid victories became landslides.”
Why? Perhaps because, “Work should work,” as Jim Wallis points out on the God’s Politics blog. Among many up late last night, Wallis writes:
“Minimum wage initiatives are winning in Missouri, Ohio, and Arizona, and winning handily. In Missouri the proposal to increase the minimum wage is winning by almost three to one. Voters are saying that work needs to work; and that if you work hard and full-time in America you shouldn’t be poor.”
“Minimum wage hikes won in every state they were on the ballot, winning by a resounding 76 percent in Missouri, 73 percent in Montana, 69 percent in Nevada, 66 percent in Arizona, 56 percent in Ohio and 53 percent in Colorado (latest totals).”
Rabbi Jill Jacobs, of Jspot, points out a constituency that won big last night: Jews. Oi, this will be the most Jewish Congress ever with 13 in the Senate and about 30 in the House. But being non-partisan, she adds, “Here’s hoping that that other famous Jew–George Allen–doesn’t add to the numbers.”
While David Buckley is right that the God gap is over – there certainly is a YHWH gap, with 87 percent of Jews voting Democratic.
CrossLeft posts Rabbi Michael Learner addressing some lessons learned:
“For much of the past two decades, the religious right was able to convince Americans that the great ethical issues were about sexuality and abortion. In this election, voters in many states repudiated local initiatives sponsored by the Right. Spiritual Progressives convinced many that war, poverty and the environment are central issues.”
Sounding a similar note, the Rev. Deb Haffner reflects: “I think the American people sent a message. Stop politics as usual. Do something about ending the Iraqi War. Return to a nation characterized by fairness and compassion. Overall, a satisfying evening. We didn’t get everything we wanted; we didn’t lose everything we needed. Sort of like life.”
In honor of the first Muslim elected to Congress, listen to Provoke radio’s excellent show on Muslim-Christian Understanding. Guests include: Dr. John Esposito, director of the Center for Muslim Christian Understanding at Georgetown University; Dr. Zahid Bukhari, director of the American Muslim Studies program at Georgetown; and Mr. Ibrahim Ramey, director of the American Muslim Society, human rights division.
The Commonweal blog also notes the loss of the God gap and points to the details of the Catholic vote. Very interesting.
Jews, Catholics, Muslims, what about those Unitarian-Universalists? Philocrates has the election results.
Pam’s House Blend (always steamin’) gets excited as some conservative folks start the values blame game over the GOP losses. Always reaching out, CrossWalk America preaches that Love is not just a choice, but a human action.
And finally, Wolfie sounds a similar note at Street Prophets, reminding us – with a great map – that we really do live in a purple country.
Over the past year, faith leaders in Ohio have been organizing to advance justice and the common good and to confront the divisive partisan politics of some on the Religious Right. They’re called We Believe Ohio, and are among the most energetic faith organizations in the country. See the below segment from Nightline for an in depth view of their work around Ohio!
Protestants for the Common Good is among the nation’s leading state and local organizations working to secure justice and the common good through political advocacy. Listen to the audio to the side as Rev. Jennifer Kottler describes their work and faithful mission. They also get to lay claim to bringing the common good into their name before it tripped off the tongue of mainstream political candidates!