Has Obama’s faith strategy paid dividends?
DALLAS – Faith seems to have ducked behind the political curtain in America as economic and market woes take center stage in the White House race between Democrat Barack Obama and his Republican rival John McCain.
But Obama’s strong emphasis on his personal Christian faith in the earlier stages of the campaign and his team’s outreach programs aimed at evangelicals and other religious groups seem to be paying off.
At one point Obama’s faith strategy seemed to falter when it emerged that his long-time pastor Jeremiah Wright had made many stridently anti-American sermons.
Obama seems to have weathered that storm.
According to the Pew Research Center, Obama’s widening leads in the national polls in the run up to the Nov. 4 election have been mirrored by gains among a range of religious groupings and denominations.
You can see its survey on voter trends according to religious affiliation here.
For example, in a Pew survey in September, McCain lead Obama among white mainstream Protestant registered voters by 50 to 40 percent. In its latest survey from Oct 16-19, Obama led McCain among registered voters from this group 48 to 43 percent.
White evangelical Protestants remain a key Republican base but Obama has also made inroads here, although they have been very modest. Over the same period McCain’s lead from them has been cut from 71 to 21 percent to 67 to 24 percent.
Non-Hispanic Catholic registered voters surveyed from Sept 9 to 14 favored McCain by 48 to 41 percent. Obama now leads among this group 49 to 41 percent.
Almost 2,600 registered voters were surveyed in the latest poll which has a margin of error of +/- 2.5 percentage points.
The economy’s rough patch is clearly swaying many Americans regardless of their religious affiliation. But is Obama also reaping the fruits of his own “faith strategy?”
Photo credit REUTERS/Jim Young. Obama speaks to pastor John Kerr and Associate Pastor Jennifer Elmquist outside First Lutheran Church in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Aug. 24, 2008