In 2008, polls showed that more regular-churchgoers voted for John McCain over Barack Obama. It appears that in this cycle, more church-goers are leaning towards Obama and away from Mitt Romney. Is the God-gap closing?
Mark Silk, writing for the Religion News Service, thinks so.
Is the fabled God Gap shrinking? A new Hartford Courart/UConn poll suggests that it is.
The poll, which has Obama up on Romney by three percentage points, includes a religious attendance question and finds that those who say they attend worship services once a week or more favor Romney by eight points. That's down by a third from the 12-point margin by which this demographic favored McCain over Obama in 2008--and less than half the size of the margin by which George W. Bush prevailed over his Democrat opponents in 2000 and 2004.
On the other side of the coin, meanwhile, those who attend infrequently prefer Obama by between seven and eight points, and that's half the margin by which he outstripped McCain. As for those who never darken the door of a house of worship, they go for the president by by 61 percent to 30 percent, modestly down from the 67-30 margin by which they preferred Obama to McCain.
By way of contrast, the gender gap is up. In 2004, women preferred Obama to McCain by 13 points, men by a single point. This time, according to the poll, it's Obama over Romney by 14 points among women, while men prefer Romney to Obama by seven points.
Silk is not sure why this is happening.
I wish I had a good story to tell about why this is--such as that the concern of the electorate has shifted from social issues like abortion and same-sex marriage to the economy. Maybe that's true. But then you have to explain why, according to this poll, Obama is winning every income group except those with a family income of between $75,000 and $100,000--the true middle class--and is losing them to Romney by a full 20 points. Then you have to square that with the finding that all religious groups (including the weekly worship attenders) think Obama would do a better job than Romney representing the middle class. Go figure.
My theory is that the God-gap is closing is because Obama is doing so well among potential women voters. I don't know if any one has studied this, but since women are generally more regular church-goers than men, it stands to reason that this would show up when looking at the so-called God-gap.
What do you think?