How the Religious Voted

The Pew Forum has the results of who voted for whom along religious lines, based on exit polls. No surprises: evangelicals and weekly church-goers voted for Romney, everyone else (Catholics, Black Protestants, mainliners, Jews, and the unaffiliated) voted for Obama. Heres’s what it looks like:

All the the analysis I’m reading suggests that Team Romney thought the turnout among the young, Hispanics, Blacks, and Catholics would be much lower than in 2008. They were wrong.

As Bob Schieffer said repeatedly on election night, “If you base your election on the white guy vote, you’re in trouble, cuz there are less and less white guys every year.”

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  • Dan Hauge

    Yeah, the most striking thing about these numbers is the racial divide, not as much the religious breakdown. And the conservatives are already creating the narrative that “all these new voting people of color just want free stuff–traditional American values are dying”. The way that this feeds into assumptions about who people of color are, and their motivations for voting the way they do, is the most disturbing thing to me.

    • Stacey

      It’s sad to see that these last 2 elections became a Racial Race instead of a Campaign Race. Looking at these numbers America is still struggling with prejudices. I’m so glad Jesus is NOT prejudice. When he came to die he died for all mankind no matter what color of their skin. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time. I Timothy 2:5-6.

  • Curtis

    It is interesting that Hispanic Catholics seem to not be listening to the Catholic Church’s protestations about Obama’s healthcare ideas and support for gay marriage. Or maybe the Republican’s perceived direct attack on Latinos to “self deport” during the primaries was too strong to be overcome by church pronouncements. Which leads to the point that maybe religion was not a strong influence, if some of the most strongly religious Americans were willing to defy the church when they did not feel represented by a candidate.

    • Brandon

      Having grown up with many Hispanics I’ve learned that many identify with Catholicism but do not adhere to its teachings, morality, etc. I imagine the same with the Black community. BET used to have “immoral” rap videos Saturday night but church programs on Sunday morning. Both groups likely affiliate themselves with religion but don’t actively participate. The White community seems more likely to denounce religious affiliate. These are all speculations based on observation and experience, nothing is fact or scientific, just my view.

      • Curtis

        You haven’t dated a Catholic Latina. Or met her parents.

        And you really lost me when you started comparing Hispanics with Blacks.

  • Kris Keller

    Honestly, I’m most fascinated by the fact that almost 80% of evangelicals voted for a ticket comprised of a Mormon and Catholic. It seems we’ve come a long, long way since JFK.

    • Curtis

      It may seem like progress on the surface, but if you dig into how the Evangelical/Catholic/Mormon alliance was formed, it may not look so progressive. Here’s a hint: What is just about the only thing those three groups have in common? Here is further support for the rule: The one, main exception to the rule voted strongly for Obama.

      • Kris Keller

        Agreed that it’s not a progressive move, I just think it would have been really interesting to have been in some of those meetings that brought that coalition together.

        • Curtis


    • Pax

      There weren’t any WASPs on either ticket for them to vote for.

  • Sven

    They said that Obama would lose the Catholic vote. They were wrong.
    They said that Obama would lose the Jewish vote. They were wrong.
    Republicans need to grow up and realize that there is more to the Catholic and Jewish votes than abortion and Israel.

    • Pax

      Catholics generally vote in the same proportion as the whole population. In part, this is because self-identification as “Catholic” is a cultural label that doesn’t necessarily say anything about religious belief. Obama lost among practicing Catholics.

      • Curtis

        You can’t seriously think that American Hispanics, in general, don’t practice Catholicism. Spanish mass is by far the most heavily attended mass at the suburban Minneapolis parish in my neighborhood.

        • Pax

          You’re right. I don’t seriously think that. I don’t think it all, and I never said that.

      • Sven

        Obama 50
        Romney 48

        Do you have a link to an exit poll that specifies “practicing Catholics”?

        • Pax

          Here’s an exit poll that has a cross tab for Catholics who attend Mass weekly:

          Note that Romney won them 57% to 42%.

          I’m sure someone will quibble with me about my definition of practicing so I’ll point out that by practicing Catholics, I mean those people who observe the Church’s disciplines for participation in the sacraments. Weekly Mass attendance is one of those.

    • And gay marriage.

  • Pax

    evangelicals and weekly church-goers voted for Romney, everyone else (Catholics, Black Protestants, mainliners, Jews, and the unaffiliated) voted for Obama.

    It appears from that chart that the only protestant subgroup that went for Obama were Black Potestants. White non-evangelicals went for Romney. Also, I like how Catholics, Black Protestants, mainliners, and Jews are not weekly church goers.

    • Curtis

      I think Tony is using “weekly church goer” as a synonym for “Other Faiths”. He doesn’t say that nobody else goes to church.

      Also, it is not clear if mainline protestants should go under White non-Evanglical, or under Other Faiths. As an Evangelical Lutheran, I would put myself closer to “Other Faith” than to “non-Evangelical”. The category labeling is ambiguous; there is no clear category for Mainline denomination. I can see your point, but I can also see how Tony read the chart.

      • Pax

        The indentation indicates a subgroup of the thing it’s indented underneath. “Other faiths” and “Protestant/Other Christian” are disjoint groups.

      • Pax

        And, I don’t think Tony is using weekly church goer as a synonym for “other faiths” because the “Other Faiths” category went for Obama. If you look at the second chart on the linked article, you’ll see there’s a separate chart that presents the church attendance question.

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  • Craig

    Interesting how the born-again/evangelical crowd is even more united under Romney than the Mormons. I’d like to meet more of these Obama-voting Mormons–I know one family of such Mormons, and they’re the coolest folks I know.

    • Curtis

      From what I know about him, Romney actually sounds like a pretty cool guy too, until the Republican handlers go ahold of him. Okay, the Obama people did a pretty good job filing in a negative picture about Mitt’s work with Bain, a picture that Gingrich and Perry started drawing, but it wasn’t like there wasn’t some material there to work with. And that is politics, after all.

      Comparing Romney’s tenure as governor of Massachusetts to today’s Republican party, I often wonder if Romney ever considered running as a Democrat instead of a Republican. The Democratic platform seems less of a contradiction to Romney’s political history than the current Republican platform.

      Overall, I come away from the election more knowledgeable of and curious about Mormonism, and don’t feel any bitterness toward that church or its members. Can’t say the same thing about politics, though.

      • Craig

        He’s now got the chance to leave politics and to show his real core (or to develop a real core, if his critics are right). I’d love to have an honest conversation with him, but not at the country club. If the Republican handlers are to blame, then he’s now got the chance to expose the pressures that make a “pretty cool guy” into an out-of-touch, pandering, deceptive, soul-less hypocrite. I’d love to read that expose of American politics.

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