Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Poll on Religion and Politics Defies Conventional Wisdom

A new poll out conducted by Public Religion Research is bad news for those 6 of 10 Republicans who believe that the solution to their historic losses 2 weeks ago is to become more partisan and more conservative.

Polled Protestant and Catholic adherents, whom the GOP claims to intend to represent, prefer to seek a common middle ground between political factions:
Evangelical, Catholic voters reject narrow political focus, embrace the common good. Large majorities of Catholics (72%) and white evangelicals (81%) say people of faith should focus on all issues that are central to their values even if it makes them less effective in politics, rather than focusing on one or two issues in order to be more politically effective. Strong majorities of Catholics (71%) and evangelicals (62%) also believe people of faith should advocate for policies that “protect the interests of all and promote the common good,” rather than policies that “protect their values and way of life.”
Focus in larger ways that may make them less effective. That's not good for Republicans, who are already ineffective.

Religious adherents also blame the greed of institutions and the lack of government oversight:
All religious groups rank economy as top issue, blame institutions rather than individuals for economic crisis. When asked to identify the first and second most important issue to their vote, 70% of voters say the economy, followed by Iraq (35%), health care (31%), terrorism (19%), abortion (14%) and same-sex marriage (6%). Asked who they think is responsible for the current economic crisis, a plurality (38%) say corporations who were greedy, nearly one-third (31%) say negligent government, and one-quarter (25%) say individuals who were careless.
That's not going to play well in the conventional conservative mindset that either denies or glorifies greed and lacks any commitment to government oversight and deterrence of corporate abuse.

Finally, significant numbers of faith-based voters are theologically comfortable with Obama (even if they did not vote for him), but Palin not so much:
Almost twice the number of white evangelicals who voted for Obama say he shares their values, is “friendly” to religion. Although only 21% of white evangelicals surveyed voted for Obama, nearly double that number say he is “friendly” to religion (39%) and shares their values (39%).

Obama significantly improves upon perceptions of Democratic Party’s “friendliness” to religion. Fifty-four percent of voters see Obama as friendly to religion, and a similar percentage see McCain as “friendly” to religion (58%). While McCain’s numbers are similar to those Pew found in August 2008 for Republican Party “friendliness” to religion (52%), Obama’s numbers represent a 16-point improvement over his party’s numbers (38%) and a 5-point increase from Faith in Public Life’s pre-election findings among the general public (49%).

Palin nomination resulted in net loss for GOP ticket. Palin’s nomination increased support among fewer than one-third of white evangelicals (30%), and decreased support among every other religious group and political independents. Among white evangelicals, a majority (54%) say her selection didn't affect their support for McCain, and an additional 14% say her selection made them less likely to support McCain.
Palin's effect on the ticket was relatively undramatic.  That won't help Palin's 2012 run against Obama.

Maybe evangelical Christians aren't as bad as I've been beating them up for being. Maybe there is a reason that theologically conservative companies are suffering a shortage of funding. Maybe that reason is a new trend toward moderation and progressiveness.  Maybe these "value voters" need to start shouting down those who self-appoint themselves their spokesmen because these poll results defy the spin out there about them.

1 comment:

  1. The only part of your post I'll take issue with is your headline, "convetional wisdom." When I look at the people I know who are evangelicals, gay, liberal or whatever, very few fall into the category defined by conventional wisdom.

    Most evangelical/religious conservatives I know have libertarian leanings. The don't want the government to force their values on others. They want government, especially the federal government, to leave them alone.