Poll: Obama Faith Rhetoric Worked, Evangelicals Vote Abortion Over Catholics
by Steven Ertelt
November 17, 2008
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — A new poll by a collection of religious groups that provided cover for Barack Obama’s pro-abortion groups say Obama’s faith rhetoric attracted both Catholic and evangelical voters. The poll also showed evangelicals based their vote on abortion in higher percentages than Catholic voters.
The Faith in Public Life poll, sponsored by Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good and Sojourners, found only 21 percent of white evangelicals surveyed voted for Obama.
But nearly double that number — 39 percent — say he is “friendly” to religion and shares their values.
Obama’s rhetoric about his Christian values appeared to help secure a higher positive name ID than prior pro-abortion candidates.
Fifty-four percent of voters see Obama as friendly to religion while 58 percent felt the same way about McCain, and the four percentage point split is much closer than the splits for the Bush-Kerry and Bush-Gore contests.
Obama’s numbers represent a 15-point improvement over his party’s numbers, with evangelicals saying the Democratic Party is friendly to religion on only a 39 percentage point margin.
The poll also found a concern for the pro-life movement about the need to re-emphasize the importance of abortion to evangelical and Catholic voters.
Some 21 percent of evangelicals and 12 percent of Catholics said putting emphasis on abortion reflected their values, while 18 percent of evangelicals and 32 percent of Catholics want to see more emphasis on issues like poverty and the environment.
The rest of the voters interviewed thought all of the issues should be addressed equally.
The Faith in Public Life poll also found that 83% of voters, including white evangelicals (86%) and Catholics (81%) believe elected leaders should work together to find ways to reduce abortions.
However, the poll doesn’t appear to have included a question about whether Obama’s abortion views — supporting abortion throughout pregnancy, favoring taxpayer-funding of abortions, and favoring the reversal of every measure to reduce abortions — were the kind of common ground respondents favored.
Not surprisingly, the poll found voters in all religious groups named the economy as their first or second most important issue while 14 percent said abortion guided their vote.
Asked to name the single most important issue, 9 percent of all voters named abortion while 21 percent of evangelicals did and 12 percent of Catholics did.
The poll also found interesting results regarding whether certain religious groups believe abortions should generally be legal or illegal.
White evangelicals believe abortions should be illegal on a 69-28 percentage point margin while white voters in mainline Protestant churches support legal abortions 63-31 percent.
Catholics were split 49-45 percent on legal abortions, even though other polling data shows 60 percent of Catholics taking a pro-life position opposing most or all abortions.
Despite the differences on legal abortions, all religious groups want to see abortions reduced with 86 percent of evangelicals, 79 percent of mainline church voters, 90 percent of black protestants, and 80 percent of Catholics saying so.
The poll also found pro-life groups need to do more to reach religious voters.
Only 1-in-5 voters report that they heard about election issues from their place of worship or from religious groups. White evangelicals and Catholics are more likely to hear about election issues than any other group, which reflects the work of pro-life groups to reach voters at churches shortly before the elections.
Among the minority of voters who heard about election issues from their place of worship or from religious groups, nearly three quarters (73%) say they heard about opposing abortion — showing the last-minute voting guides reached a high percentage of evangelical and Catholic voters.
The survey was designed and conducted by Public Religion Research and it consists of a nationally representative sample of 1,277 American voters and was conducted from November 5 to November 7, 2008.
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