Poll Shows Evangelical Christians Back McCain, Catholics Mostly Undecided

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Aug 12, 2008   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Poll Shows Evangelical Christians Back McCain, Catholics Mostly Undecided

by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
August 12
, 2008

Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — A new poll of voters based on their religious views makes it clear the pro-life community has significantly more educational work to do to show voters where the candidates stand on abortion. The poll finds John McCain leading among evangelicals — but his support dropping — while Catholics are mostly undecided.

The Barna Group polling firm put out the new poll and breaks down the electorate into more segments than most pollsters.

According to its survey, non-evangelical born again Christians back Barack Obama 43% to 31%, notional Christians support Obama 44% to 28%, people of some other faith back Obama 56% to 24%, and atheists and agnostics support Obama 55% to 17%.

The three largest groups of voters include mainline Protestants, Catholics, and evangelicals.

McCain holds a huge lead (61%-17%) over Obama among evangelical voters while the two are split with Protestants (Obama ahead 43% to 34%) and Catholics (Obama leading 39% vs. 29%).

The Catholic vote makes it clear that a large percentage of Catholics are undecided on the presidential election and could wind up serving as a key swing vote determining which candidate occupies the White House for four years.

The poll is a good news, bad news scenario for both candidates.

While McCain has a large lead among evangelical voters because of his pro-life position on abortion and differences on other issues, he actually lost support from the previous Barna Group poll — which showed him with the backing of 78 percent.

However, the Barna poll also shows the trend seen in other surveys over the last few weeks — with Obama losing support as more voters are educated on where he stands.

During the past two months, Obama’s lead has eroded substantially among non-evangelical born again Christians (a decline of nine points); active Christians (a 20-point drop); Protestants (down 13 points); and Catholics (down 11 points).

"While there is still a decided preference for Senator Obama, the more conservative element of the Christian population is slowly coming to grips with what an Obama presidency might be like," pollster George Barna says in notes accompanying the poll.

"As the finer points of a wide range of issues are clarified by each nominee, the initial excitement about Senator Obama has lost some luster to an increasing number of people whose vote is influenced by their spiritual perspectives. If Sen. McCain converts such apprehensions into votes, this will be a closer race than many have anticipated," he explains.

Commenting on the poll, CBN News senior correspondent David Brody says the results are a warning for McCain that he must do more to shore up his base.

"The McCain campaign can not be satisfied with thinking Evangelicals and conservative faith voters will vote for McCain as long as they thoroughly demonize Obama," he says. "It won’t work."

"Evangelical leaders and grassroots activists continue to tell The Brody File that McCain needs to start incorporating faith and values talk into his speeches and town halls," he adds.

"So yes McCain leads 61%-17% among Evangelical Christians but the drop from 78% should be a red flag. If John McCain wants to win the presidency he needs a fully mobilized energized Evangelical base behind him," he concludes.


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