Monthly church attenders swing Obama’s way
Americans who attend church once or twice a month have become a sought after “swing vote” — and they are swinging to Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama in the run-up to the Nov 4. presidential election.
It found that, based on religious service attendance, the biggest shift in candidate preferences between 2004 and 2008 was among those who went once or twice a month. Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry got 49 percent of their vote in 2004 while Obama is now pulling 60 percent.
But in a reflection of the 2004 race, Obama’s Republican rival John McCain “maintains a significant advantage among voters who attend more frequently, while Obama has a nearly identical advantage over McCain among those who attend less than a few times a month or never,” the survey says.
Among those who attend religious services more than twice a week, the survey found McCain leads Obama 60 percent to 34 percent. Kerry in 2004 garnered 35 percent of that vote.
McCain also maintains a significant lead with white evangelical Protestants, a key Republican base which helped propel President George W. Bush to power. This base has been energized by McCain’s selection of staunch conservative Christian Sarah Palin as his running mate and the Arizona senator leads Obama among them by 68 to 25 percent.
Among younger white evangelicals between the ages of 18 and 34 that narrows to 65 to 29 percent — a finding in keeping with other polls on the subject. This suggests Obama has made some inroads into the evangelical political monolith though his gains have been minimal despite an extensive faith outreach program.
The survey also found that 49 percent of Americans think Obama is friendly to religion and 45 percent think McCain is friendly to religion — numbers that both candidates may find discouraging since neither chalks up a majority on that score.
The survey includes a national sample of 2,000 adults including an oversample of 974 respondents aged 18 to 34. It was conducted from Aug 28 to Sept 19, so it was obviously before the second televized presidential debate. The margin of error for the broader survey is +/- 2.5 percent and for the younger group it is +/- three percent.
(Photo Credit: REUTERS/Jim Bourg, Sept 27, 2008, USA. Combination images of the presidential candidates)