How Did Evangelicals Vote? November 10, 2008

How Did Evangelicals Vote?

It’s no surprise that Evangelicals mostly voted for McCain. However, the good news is that roughly 3-4% more voted Democratic this time around than they did in 2004. Furthermore, Obama nearly doubled his support among younger evangelicals (aged 18-44) compared to John Kerry (from 16% to 32% among the 18-29 demographic). That definitely bodes well for the future, if, as I hope, it reflects a growing shift towards progressivism among younger evangelicals.

Christianity Today also put together this fascinating map revealing what percentage of voters self-identified as evangelicals in each state and what percentage of those voted for each candidate. (Lighter shades indicate higher percentage of McCain voters.) The highest was in Illinois, with 40% of evangelicals voting for Obama, though of course he has a home state advantage there. Next highest were Minnesota and Iowa, each with 38% for Obama.

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  • Miko

    Or perhaps they just didn’t like McCain. He isn’t the most fundamentalist candidate the GOP has ever run.

  • llewelly

    Mike, Evangelical and fundamentalist are not the same thing.

  • Larry Huffman

    Fundamentalists can be found in all religions…but the group of christians that we tend to refer to as fundies do usually belong to the evangelical sects. The evengelical sects basically believe in the authority and infallability of the bible. Not all of the members are fundamentalists, but a large number are.

    This data is referring to all members of evangelical faiths, and so refers to fundamentalist and progressive members of the sects alike.

    I doubt you would find much support for Obama if this were a fundamentalist map as opposed to evangelical.

    Now…this is only when referring to individuals. Many of the sects that are evangelical would also be considered fundamentalist because of their doctrine and leadership. So confusing the two is much more allowed when speaking at an overview level…though there are some non-fundy evangelical sects. In other words, most of the evangelical sects are also fundy sects…but not every member is a fundy.

  • Mike, Evangelical and fundamentalist are not the same thing.

    llewelly, were you responding to me or to Miko? I don’t recall bringing up fundamentalists. You’re quite right that they’re not exactly the same thing, though of course the borderlands between them can often be blurry.

  • Simon

    Mike; I disagree with your statement.

    McCain’s lack of fundamentalism would seem to have been more y than compensated by that of Palin.
    It certainly was the case among the most religiously nut crowds.

    I think these results rather show that Evangelists are relatively moderates.
    Hence, they were more susceptible to the reasoned arguments that convinced most voters than were the fundamentalists that could only see the election through the prism of their biblical interpretation.

  • SarahH

    I definitely know some evangelicals who were turned off by McCain and not swayed (or swayed further away) by the choice of Palin. Obama didn’t fit their values or priorities either, but something about him – perhaps something different for each person – made it worth voting for him instead of simply abstaining.

  • TXatheist

    Simon, on what basis can you say evangelicals are moderates? And “more” susceptible to reasoned arguments?

  • Jasen777

    It’ll be tough for Obama to keep those numbers. This time he was the candidate of optimism and change. What will he be in four years?

  • Evangelicals are not any one thing. There are evangelicals who are socialists, evangelicals who are moderates, evangelicals who are reactionary Republicans. But there are trends, especially in regions like the South, where there is more political peer pressure in evangelical churches and the majority of evangelicals in those areas seem to be Republican because of their socially conservative ideas.

  • Larry Huffman

    Again…the term Evangelical is a very broad term. This group of sects (and people) includes some more moderate groups, but it also entails the most obnoxiously hard-core fundamentalists. In truth, the term does very little to narrow down the group we are speaking of. There will be entire sects that are very liberal…many moderate…and a very large number of staunchly conservative religious voters, all who fall under this term.

    I find it funny that people are disagreeing with each other about opinions based on such a broad and diverse group. Just about everything that has been said could or could not apply to large segments of evangelicals.

    Keep in mind, however, the term evangelical DOES include the fundies. So, making blanket statements about evangelicals being moderate is out of place, since the least moderate of all voting groups in the nation belong under the term evangelical.

  • Jen

    I know what they say about antidotes not being data and all, but I am an expert in what my friends voted for in the election according to their facebook statuses. Most of my friends voted for Obama. I had one former Ohioan who voted McCain because he just can’t help being a Republican (I think he’s Catholic), one former roommate who was mad that McCain the war hero wasn’t elected (She’s religious, but I can’t tell you the flavor), and one absolute self-appointed Catholic saint who voted McCain because she thinks Obama kills babies.

    Of my religious friends who voted for Obama, I can think several Catholics and many Protestants.

    Of course, it just happens to be one of those things where I tend to prefer people whose political views are allied with mine. I wouldn’t say I seek them out, per se, but I find it difficult to befriend people who are so different than me to the point of frustration.

  • Polly

    and one absolute self-appointed Catholic saint who voted McCain because she thinks Obama kills babies.

    And what does she suppose McCain was doing in the skies over Vietnam, delivering Xmas presents?

  • Eliza

    More interesting info on Beliefnet here, including these tidbits, from their survey:

    # Half of McCain voters believe Obama is or was Muslim, with 31.7% saying “He used to be Muslim and still has too many connections to Islam.”

    # Many more Obama voters believe McCain ran an unchristian campaign, rather than vice versa.

    # Among the most religious voters, Obama supporters believe that education is the best way to reduce abortion, while McCain supporters prefer bans and restrictions on abortion.

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