President Obama’s job approval rating for the first half of this year has been 43%. (Which sounds low until you realize Congress is at a pitiful 7% approval.)
But in a just-released Gallup poll, they broke down those numbers by religious groups and found that Muslims overwhelmingly support him, Mormons overwhelmingly disapprove of him (they’re still upset about Mitt Romney, I’m sure), and the atheists (mixed in with those who use no religious label but who may believe in God) are roughly split but still on his side:
These numbers aren’t too surprising. Of course very conservative religious people — Catholics, evangelical Christians, Mormons — are going to have their problems with a (moderately) liberal president, especially on social issues. Just the opposite with American Muslims, Jews, and atheists. Maybe you don’t expect Muslims to fall into that crowd, given that they tend to be conservative in so many non-political ways; however, I think they understand that he supports their religious freedom and he isn’t waging a war against Muslims. (Hell, the Religious Right loves to say he’s one of them, anyway.)
Here’s the more important thing we should be asking: Even if 38% of the “Nones” (and all those Muslims, Jews, and other non-Christians) “disapprove” of Obama, would we vote for his opponent if a Presidential election were somehow held today?
Not. A. Chance.. Why the hell would we vote for the Republican candidate who, most likely, is just a lackey for the Religious Right? Does anyone think most atheists would throw their support behind Ted Cruz or Rick Perry? Even Jeb Bush or Rand Paul wouldn’t get the majority of our support. We know why people are disappointed with President Obama. A lot of us wish he could do more (Congress be damned). There’s plenty of reason to disapprove of how Obama’s doing in his job. But make no mistake: he would still have our vote. And, presumably, so will Hillary Clinton.
Disapproval only matters, politically speaking, if there’s a better alternative, and there’s no better option right now for religious minorities. It reminds me of this Saturday Night Live sketch:
Obama would have to *seriously* fuck up before he loses our support so much so that we’d consider flipping parties.
(Obviously, these are generalizations. There will inevitably be a small percentage of atheists and other religious minorities who won’t vote for him. But the key word there is “small.”)
By the way, the Gallup poll also notes the approval ratings from all the religious groups have dipped since 2009 — and they’ve all fluctuated more or less the same way since then, too:
What does that tell us? Gallup’s Jeffrey M. Jones explains:
Clearly, members of various religions view the president quite differently, but this may be attributable more to whether Obama’s Democratic affiliation matches the political leanings of each religious group, and less to the specific policies and actions he has taken throughout his presidency.
In that sense, we’re no different from any other religious group.