Poll: Evangelical Turnout Increased in 2012 Over 2008

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Nov 7, 2012   |   6:26PM   |   Washington, DC

New polling data from the Faith and Freedom Coalition, headed by pro-life advocate Ralph Reed, shows that the evangelical turnout was up in 2012 for Mitt Romney compared to the 2008 numbers for John McCain.

The data makes it appear other reasons are behind the Romney loss to pro-abortion President Barack Obama last night than a failure of social conservative voters to support him.

A national post-election survey commissioned by the Faith and Freedom Coalition last night found that the evangelical vote increased in 2012 to a record 27% of the electorate and that white evangelicals voted roughly 78% for Mitt Romney to 21% for Barack Obama.  This was the highest share of the vote in modern political history for evangelicals, Reed said.

“Evangelicals turned out in record numbers and voted as heavily for Mitt Romney yesterday as they did for George W. Bush in 2004,” Reed observed. “That is an astonishing outcome that few would have predicted even a few months ago.  But Romney underperformed with younger voters and minorities and that in the end made the difference for Obama.”

Catholic voters who regularly attend Mass broke 67% for Romney to 32% for Obama.  This represented a swing of 35% in the direction of the GOP since 2008.   Romney also won white Catholics by a margin of 59% to 40%, a margin of 19 points among a group that historically has voted for the winner.  Nevertheless, Obama narrowly won the Catholic vote driven largely by  over-performing among Hispanic Catholics.

“Virtually the entire increase in Mitt Romney’s vote compared to John McCain’s in 2008 came because of higher turnout and higher support from evangelical voters,” said Glen Bolger, the pollster who conducted the survey.

“This election was a tale of two cities,” said Reed.  “Evangelicals and faithful Catholics turned out in large numbers and voted overwhelmingly for religious liberty, the sanctity of life and marriage, and limited government.  But younger voters and minorities turned out in even larger numbers in 2008 and delivered Obama to victory.”

Reed added: “If the Republican Party wants to be competitive in national elections, it will have to nominate candidates who can appeal to young voters, women, Hispanics and other minorities.  Otherwise, they will likely see more elections similar to the 2012 outcome.  The good news for the GOP is many of those voters are conservative and are people of faith.”

The post-election survey was conducted by Public Opinion Strategies and interviewed 800 actual 2012 voters.  The margin of error is plus/minus 3.46%.

Reed’s group predicted the heavy evangelical turnout before the election. The group made over 122 million voter contacts to evangelicals, faithful Catholics, and other voters of faith in key states. It had a voter education effort that included 23 million pieces of mail, 21 million get-out-the-vote calls, 18 million text messages and emails, and 30 million voter guides distributed in 117,000 churches.



Reed recently told Greta Van Susteren that strong evangelical presence in the “big four” battlegrounds — Florida, Virginia, Ohio, and North Carolina — means conservative Christians will play a bigger role than ever in November.

He said, “In every one of those states, Greta, we believe we’re going to be able to increase the evangelical turnout from the 2008 baseline by an average of about 7%.”