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Is the “God-gap” closing this election cycle?

Is the “God-gap” closing this election cycle?

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?

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Sridgcw

Sorry ’bout the double post. I forgot to sign my name.

Thanks for remembering Sarah ~ed.

Sridgcw

I don’t think you can look at statistics like that in isolation. A lot of it has to do with stuff that’s been going on nationally.

The growing gender gap, I would bet real money, is at least partly due to efforts by conservative Republicans all over the country to influence women’s reproductive rights. Even if you are not pro-choice, requiring ultrasounds (unnecessary and paid for by the woman, not the state) rubs many women the wrong way. Having fights over contraceptive coverage is something we thought we were through with decades ago. And then there’s the refusal of Republican House members to support legislation, which they *had* done for a long time, funding Domestic Violence assistance, because the bill included language mandated that immigrant and LGBT victims be supported.

As far as the God gap is concerned, it’s possible that it is in part due to Romney’s Mormonism, but I think it’s more due to his whole party’s astounding lack of concern for the marginal in society.

Sarah Ridgway

Sridgcw

I don’t think you can look at statistics like that in isolation. A lot of it has to do with stuff that’s been going on nationally.

The growing gender gap, I would bet real money, is at least partly due to efforts by conservative Republicans all over the country to influence women’s reproductive rights. Even if you are not pro-choice, requiring ultrasounds (unnecessary and paid for by the woman, not the state) rubs many women the wrong way. Having fights over contraceptive coverage is something we thought we were through with decades ago. And then there’s the refusal of Republican House members to support legislation, which they *had* done for a long time, funding Domestic Violence assistance, because the bill included language mandated that immigrant and LGBT victims be supported.

As far as the God gap is concerned, it’s possible that it is in part due to Romney’s Mormonism, but I think it’s more due to his whole party’s astounding lack of concern for the marginal in society.

Dave Paisley

Isn’t it likely that a significant number of mainstream churchgoers have significant reservations about Romney being a Mormon? The Evangelicals must be torn…

Cynthia Katsarelis

To me, it seems like progressive Christians finally found our voice. Leaders have spoken up more frequently and more articulately on social justice and the social contract. My feeling is that we found it authentically. That once we were able to talk about it as the call of Scripture (rather than let conservatives paint us as relativists, or accuse us of follow culture rather than Jesus), we found our voice and speak authentically, passionately, and convincingly.

Having said that, I’m remembering that in 2004, 40 percent of self identified evangelicals voted for John Kerry. That makes me very circumspect about groups being monolithic. But I am glad to help close the “God gap.” The GOP platform doesn’t remotely resemble any of the teachings of Jesus.

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