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Can the Democrats Hold the Gains They Made With Faith Voters?

November 6, 2008, 3:12 pm | Posted by ehouser
Reuters, Faith World
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In a country where religion plays a big role in politics, U.S. Democrats have made some big gains with voters of faith.

A number of exit polls have shown that President-elect Barack Obama narrowed the “God gap” that existed when President George W. Bush, a Republican, defeated Democratic challenger John Kerry in 2004.

According to Faith in Public Life, a non-partisan resource center, and Public Religion Research, Obama increased the Democratic share of the tally among all groups categorized by how often they attend church.

The groups noted that he made his biggest gains among voters who attend church more than once a week, “narrowing a 29-point Republican advantage (64 percent – 35 percent) to a 12-point Republican advantage (55 percent – 43 percent). This represents an 8-point increase among a strongly Republican group.”

Other highlights it noted included:

- Obama won monthly attenders 53 percent to 46 percent, while Kerry lost them 49 percent to 51 percent, a 4-point pickup.

- Obama beat Republican rival John McCain soundly among Catholics (55 percent to 44 percent), performing better than Kerry in 2004 and Democrat Al Gore in 2000.

- Among white Catholics, Obama narrowed the Republican advantage from Bush’s 13-

point advantage (56 percent to 43 percent), with McCain holding only a 5-point advantage (52 percent to 47 percent).

- White evangelical Protestants remained the most reliable base for the Republican Party with McCain beating Obama among them 75 percent to 24 percent — falling only slightly short of Bush’s standing with them in 2004. This finding was similar to other exit polls such as CNN’s.

All of this is interesting stuff and highlights, among other things, Obama’s success in wooing religious voters through an outreach program and his own overt gestures of faith.

His small inroads with evangelical voters show that some in this diversifying movement hope he will support their efforts as they broaden their biblical agenda to include the fight against climate change.

His gains elsewhere, such as among Catholics, probably stem from many factors including voter concerns about the economy, which overshadowed almost everything else in the last few weeks of the election.

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