Survey: How the Faithful Voted

The Story: A new analysis by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life based on results from the National Election Pool exit polls finds that President Obama lost ground among white evangelical Protestants and white Catholics, compared with 2008. But the basic religious contours of the 2012 electorate are similar to recent elections.

The Background: According to the Pew analysis, traditionally Republican groups such as white evangelicals and weekly churchgoers strongly backed Mitt Romney, while traditionally Democratic groups such as black Protestants, Hispanic Catholics, Jews, and the religiously unaffiliated backed Obama by large margins. Mormon voters were firmly in Romney’s corner, with 78% voting for him. Catholics as a whole were evenly divided (50% voted for Obama and 48% backed Romney), while white Catholics swung strongly in the Republican direction relative to 2008.

The Takeaways: Some of the more interesting findings from the survey include:

• Nearly eight-in-ten white evangelicals voted for Romney (79%), compared with 20% who backed Obama.

• Romney received as much support from evangelical voters as George W. Bush did in 2004 (79%) and more support from evangelicals than McCain did in 2008 (73%).

• Among white mainline Protestants in the exit poll, 54% voted for Romney, while 44% supported Obama.

• Nearly six-in-ten white Catholics (59%) voted for Romney, up from 52% who voted for McCain in 2008.

• Three-quarters of Hispanic Catholics voted for Obama, and Catholics as a whole were evenly divided in 2012 (50% voted for Obama, while 48% backed Romney).

• Nearly six-in-ten voters who say they attend religious services at least once a week voted for Romney (59%), while 39% backed Obama.

• More than six-in-ten voters who say they never attend religious services voted for Obama (62%). Voters who say they attend religious services a few times a month or a few times a year also supported Obama over Romney by a 55% to 43% margin.

  • Doc B

    All that, and it still wasn’t enough. That says more than any of the statistics above can even manage.

  • Seth Fuller

    As always, very interesting Joe. Thanks.

  • Mel

    Were the Hispanic Catholics real Catholics or in name only Catholics?

  • Rick

    More than SIX MILLION self described born-again evangelicals voted for the most pro-abortion, anti-family, anti-marriage, anti-religious freedom President in history. This is all you need to know about the sad state of the church. Can we forever put aside the ridiculous notion that America is a “Christian Nation”?

  • Bill

    And the remaining millions voted for a candidate (Romney) that would have been the first president to profess not to be a Christian, and who worships a different God than a Christian God, violating the first two comandments. The Bible is quite clear on what angers Him most: choosing other gods before him, and that is LDS, folks.
    So most Christians voted for this candidate who violates thee first two commandments instead of the one who openly supports the other two comandments (adultery and murder). And we also know that in two previous campaigns in 1994 and 2002, Romney was outspoken in his support of abortion, and has recently stated before this campaign that he would do nothing to change the laws on abortion.

    I am just saying I understand where this is coming from. It was not an easy choice for everyone.

  • Michael

    Thanks Bill… finally I have found some words that I can resonate with politically; I am a bit disgusted at the evangelical church’s political stance throughout this election, demonizing the President while making Romney out to be a savior to the world… thankfully we have confidence that our hope is in Christ!

  • messkat

    Some of us couldn’t vote for either candidate in good conscience. My concerns were immigration laws and Medicare. As someone who cares for an aging parent and cares about the two-thirds world (both overseas and immigrants), I wasn’t sure they would be well served by a Romney administration. I also don’t believe that trickle-down economics works well in a sinful world because of greed.

    My $.02.

  • Steve Cornell

    Six out of 10 Americans say that they don’t pay attention to politics. What does it tell us about the process when pervasive apathy becomes the majority posture? Two of the most common opinions are that nothing ever gets done and that politicians are corrupt and a bunch of liars. I am certain most of these people do not trust or support the Obama Administration as much as they wouldn’t have trusted a Romney administration.

    In a recent survey, only 39 percent could even identify the name of the vice president. People say that they’re too busy to be bothered and have lost interest in the whole political scene. It’s reported that 131 million Americans (or two-thirds of eligible voters) voted in 2008. This left more than 15 million registered voters who didn’t participate and an additional estimated 30 million unregistered Americans. It wasn’t better this time around.

    President Obama’s re-election was nothing close to a mandate. Half or more of the nation is adamantly opposed to his big government philosophy.

    This election does not indicated a huge shift to the left even though the folks on that side are aggressively marketing it as such. The majority opinion is opposition to politicians and distrust for government on both sides.

  • Kim

    Were any black Christians surveyed?

  • JohnM

    Gotta wonder – Just how Catholic are those Hispanic Catholics? Apparently they see their own interests diverging from the interests of their church.