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Looking at the swing states through the lens of religion

Looking at the swing states through the lens of religion

Mark Silk, director of the Leonard E. Greenberg Center for the Study of Religion in Public Life at Trinity College breaks down the influence of religious voting blocks in 12 swing states. Three of note:


In 2004, when George Bush carried the Buckeye State by two points, evangelicals voted for him by a margin of 76-24. Constituting 25 percent of the electorate, they provided him with a 13-point cushion. In 2008, evangelicals were up to 30 percent of Ohio voters, but they went for John McCain by only 71-27, costing him half the 52-47 margin by which he lost to Barack Obama. This year, surveys show Mitt Romney leading Obama among evangelicals by as little as 20 points. If Romney carries Ohio, it will be because evangelical activists like Ralph Reed manage to return their people to at least McCain levels of support.


In 2008, Obama did well with Protestants, not so well with Catholics in the Keystone State, but this year, the Catholics are a lot more enthusiastic about him than the Protestants are. The explanation? Catholics have come to see Obama as a traditional Democrat, and a significant number of Protestant Obama supporters have started identifying themselves as “None.” So long as Catholics don’t embrace their church’s call to see the Administration as hostile to their religion, Obama seems safe.


Thanks to huge growth in the Washington suburbs, Virginia has a smaller proportion of evangelical voters than North Carolina, and larger proportions of mainline Protestants,

Catholics, and Nones. That makes the Commonwealth more likely than the Tarheel State to end up voting for Obama.

Two points of note in his larger analysis: 1. Mainline Protestants are not only declining in numbers, but in leverage. Whatever muscle they have does not seem to be strategically situated in this election. 2. It seems a given that many Catholics will continue to ignore their bishops’ lobbying for the Republican party.


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