How the Faithful Voted: 2012 Preliminary Analysis

In his re-election victory, Democrat Barack Obama narrowly defeated Republican Mitt Romney in the national popular vote (50% to 48%)1. Obama’s margin of victory was much smaller than in 2008 when he defeated John McCain by a 53% to 46% margin, and he lost ground among white evangelical Protestants and white Catholics. But the basic religious contours of the 2012 electorate resemble recent elections – traditionally Republican groups such as white evangelicals and weekly churchgoers strongly backed Romney, while traditionally Democratic groups such as black Protestants, Hispanic Catholics, Jews and the religiously unaffiliated backed Obama by large margins.

Vote Choice by Religion and Race

Religiously unaffiliated voters and Jewish voters were firmly in Obama’s corner in 2012 (70% and 69%, respectively). Compared with 2008, support for Obama ticked downward among both Jews and religiously unaffiliated voters in the exit polls, though these declines appear not to be statistically significant. Both of these groups have long been strongly supportive of Democratic candidates in presidential elections. Black Protestants also voted overwhelmingly for Obama (95%).

 

At the other end of the political spectrum, nearly eight-in-ten white evangelical Protestants voted for Romney (79%), compared with 20% who backed Obama. Romney received as much support from evangelical voters as George W. Bush did in 2004 (79%) and more support from evangelicals than McCain did in 2008 (73%). Mormon voters were also firmly in Romney’s corner; nearly eight-in-ten Mormons (78%) voted for Romney, while 21% voted for Obama. Romney received about the same amount of support from Mormons that Bush received in 2004. (Exit poll data on Mormons was unavailable for 2000 and 2008.)

Jews accounted for 2% of the 2012 electorate, and Muslims and members of other non-Christian faiths together accounted for 7% of the electorate. The religiously unaffiliated made up 12% of 2012 voters; the religiously unaffiliated share of the electorate is unchanged from 2008, even though the religiously unaffiliated share of the adult population has grown significantly over this period.

Poll: 25 Percent of Muslim Voters Undecided in Presidential Election

WASHINGTON, Oct. 24, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — A national Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization today released the results of a survey indicating that 25 percent of American Muslim registered voters are still undecided about who to vote for in this November’s presidential election.

The new poll, conducted by an independent research firm on behalf of the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), also indicates that 91 percent of registered Muslim voters will go to the polls on November 6. [NOTE: The random survey of 500 registered Muslim voters, conducted in the first two weeks of October, has a margin of error of five percent.]

Sixty-eight percent of the survey respondents said they will vote to re-elect President Obama. Seven percent said they will vote for Mitt Romney.

Sixty-eight percent of the survey respondents said they will vote to re-elect President Obama. Seven percent said they will vote for Mitt Romney.

“These results indicate that a large percentage of American Muslim voters are still open to appeals from presidential candidates and that American Muslims are potentially in a position to decide this year’s election,” said CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad.

Other findings released at CAIR’s joint news conference today with the American Muslim Taskforce on Civil Rights and Elections (AMT*) include:

Little Voter Discomfort with Romney’s Mormon Religion and Only About Half Identify Obama as Christian

Most voters continue to say it is important for a president to have strong religious beliefs. But voters have limited awareness of the religious faiths of both Mitt Romney and Barack Obama. And there is little evidence to suggest that concerns about the candidates’ respective faiths will have a meaningful impact in the fall elections.

The latest national survey by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life and the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted June 28-July 9, 2012, among 2,973 adults, including 2,373 registered voters, finds that 60% of voters are aware that Romney is Mormon, virtually unchanged from four months ago, during the GOP primaries.

The vast majority of those who are aware of Romney’s faith say it doesn’t concern them. Fully eight-in-ten voters who know Romney is Mormon say they are either comfortable with his faith (60%) or that it doesn’t matter to them (21%).

The new survey on religion and politics finds that nearly four years into his presidency the view that Barack Obama is Muslim persists. Currently, 17% of registered voters say that Obama is Muslim; 49% say he is Christian, while 31% say they do not know Obama’s religion.

Obama and gay marriage: In U.S. religion, the Golden Rule rules

As pundits and politicians struggle to divine the political fallout from President Obama’s sudden endorsement of same-sex marriage, one thing has become clear: The Golden Rule invoked by Obama to explain his change of heart is the closest thing Americans have to a common religious law, and that has important implications beyond the battle for gay rights.

In fact, one of the most striking aspects of Obama’s revelation on Wednesday (May 9) that he and his wife, Michelle, support marriage rights for gays and lesbians, is that he invoked their Christian faith to support his views. In past years, Obama — as many believers still do — had cited his religious beliefs to oppose gay marriage.

Obama told ABC News that he and the first lady “are both practicing Christians and obviously this position may be considered to put us at odds with the views of others but, you know, when we think about our faith, the thing at root that we think about is, not only Christ sacrificing himself on our behalf, but it’s also the Golden Rule, you know, treat others the way you would want to be treated.”

The Golden Rule template is also one that experts say will likely one day pave the way for greater acceptance of marginalized groups like Muslims, just as it did in past generations for Catholics and Jews. Mormons like Mitt Romney already seem to be benefiting, as their visibility grows and more Americans see them as living upstanding lives.

Newt Gingrich ramping up rhetoric on Islam

After a month of sparring with former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, Gingrich has returned to more comfortable territory — criticizing President Obama with language more incendiary than his rivals would dare to use.

In Georgia Tuesday, he called Obama “so pro-Islamic that [he] can’t even tell the truth about the people who are trying to kill us,” the latest in a series of recent attacks on the White House as excessively friendly to Muslims.
In last week’s debate, he used his opening remarks to promise that “no future president will ever bow to a Saudi king again.”

The focus on Islam is a return to form for Gingrich, who in May of last year warned of a United States “potentially . . .dominated by radical Islamists and with no understanding of what it once meant to be an American.” In 2010, he compared Muslims hoping to build an Islamic Center near the World Trade Center site to Nazis.

Republican candidates “believe they have nothing to lose and everything to gain by pandering to anti-Islamic bigotry,” said Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations. “It’s always been under the surface, ready to pop up at any moment.”

But it’s not certain that this strategy will win Gingrich votes so much as headlines. His May 2011 comments were not followed by a surge in polls.

A Group to Counter Anti-Islam Sentiment

As anti-Muslim rhetoric rises locally and nationally — some of it fueled by the presidential campaign — a group of Chicago-area Muslims is battling back, using tactics including a television ad campaign and public forums against bigotry.

Gain Peace, an Islamic outreach organization based in Chicago, spent $40,000 in December to counter negative portrayals and produce two television ads intended to promote Islam as a just faith. The spots, which will run through March in the Chicago area on Fox, CNN and TNT, depict friendly Muslim students and professionals and display a phone number and a Web site for more information.

In the presidential race, both Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum have depicted Islamic Shariah law as a potential threat to United States sovereignty. One of Mitt Romney’s foreign policy advisers, Walid Phares, regularly warns that Muslims aim to take over American institutions and impose Shariah, a legal code based mainly on the Koran that can involve punishments like cutting off the hands of a thief.

Mr. Ahmed, of Gain Peace, dismissed any connection between Islamic Circle and terrorism. “There is always a link people try to make,” he said. “But there is no proof.”

Mr. Redfield, of the University of Illinois at Springfield, said he thought the Muslim groups were smart to combat anti-Muslim rhetoric. “In politics, if you don’t define yourself someone else will,” he said. “They have to be proactive in terms of trying to neutralize ignorance and willful manipulation of negative opinion.”
Islamic Circle hopes to distribute the television ads nationwide.

The Generation Gap and the 2012 Election: Angry Silents, Disengaged Millennials

Angry Silents, Disengaged Millennials

In the last four national elections, generational differences have mattered more than they have in decades. According to the exit polls, younger people have voted substantially more Democratic than other age groups in each election since 2004, while older voters have cast more ballots for Republican candidates in each election since 2006.

The latest national polls suggest this pattern may well continue in 2012. Millennial generation voters are inclined to back Barack Obama for reelection by a wide margin in a matchup against Mitt Romney, the Republican candidate who has run the strongest against Obama in many polls. By contrast, Silent generation voters are solidly behind Romney.

One of the largest factors driving the current generation gap is the arrival of diverse and Democratic-oriented Millennials. Shaped by the politics and conditions of the Bill Clinton and George W. Bush presidencies, this group holds liberal attitudes on most social and governmental issues.

The Generation Gap and the 2012 Election

In the last four national elections, generational differences have mattered more than they have in decades. According to the exit polls, younger people have voted substantially more Democratic than other age groups in each election since 2004, while older voters have cast more ballots for Republican candidates in each election since 2006.

The latest national polls suggest this pattern may well continue in 2012. Millennial generation voters are inclined to back Barack Obama for reelection by a wide margin in a matchup against Mitt Romney, the Republican candidate who has run the strongest against Obama in many polls. By contrast, Silent generation voters are solidly behind Romney.

One of the largest factors driving the current generation gap is the arrival of diverse and Democratic-oriented Millennials. Shaped by the politics and conditions of the Bill Clinton and George W. Bush presidencies, this group holds liberal attitudes on most social and governmental issues.

Romney says immigration plan flawed; parts amount to ‘amnesty’

Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney said Friday that a Senate compromise on immigration reform is flawed because it makes it too easy for illegal immigrants to continue to live in this country. The former Massachusetts governor was attending the state conference of the Georgia Republican Party. He said the immigration plan unveiled Thursday “has some positive features” but shouldn’t include the “Z-visa” provision. (…) Casting himself as the true conservative in a crowded Republican field, Romney said he believes voters in the South will be willing to support a former Northeastern governor because of stances like his opposition to abortion and gay marriage and support of lower taxes and a strong military. “Those values and those conservative perspectives are the values that voters in the South share,” he said. He also downplayed the possibility that his Mormon faith would turn off Republican voters in the Bible Belt. “I’m not running for pastor-in-chief; I’m running for a secular position,” Romney said. “I don’t think Americans anywhere choose their candidate based on what church you go to that’s what they do in other places,” like nations run by Islamic fundamentalists, he said.