Church attendance ‘strongest gap’ in presidential candidates’ support

James Tonkowich
James Tonkowich


Evangelical voters’ aversion to voting for a Democratic president appears to have changed little, a recent poll indicates, though their support for Sen. John McCain still lags behind their strong showing for George W. Bush.

According to polls released by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, only 22 percent of white evangelicals support Sen. Barack Obama, a percentage identical to the number who supported Sen. John Kerry in the 2004 presidential election.

About 65 percent of white Evangelicals support Sen. McCain, compared to the 70 to 75 percent reported to have favored Bush in the 2004 election. A Gallup poll published on October 27 shows Hispanic Evangelicals supporting McCain over Obama by 46 to 43 percent.

According to Pew, white Mainline Christians are evenly split, with 46 percent favoring McCain and 47 percent supporting Obama.

James Tonkowich, President of the Institute on Religion and Democracy, commented on the poll results in a press release, saying frequency of church attendance continues to be one of the “strongest gaps in support” between McCain and Obama.

“The more often voters are in the pews, the more often they are likely to favor Sen. McCain,” Tonkowich remarked.

“Statements by Evangelical leaders such as Jim Wallis or National Association of Evangelicals Vice President Rich Cizik about the competitive nature of the Evangelical vote appear largely unfounded.

“Despite some Evangelical leaders’ attempts to shift attention from traditional social issues to what they term a ‘broadening agenda’, we are not seeing a significant difference in Evangelical support between polling in the 2004 election and polling for the 2008 election.

“Cizik, especially, seems to be speaking more to his own wishes of how Evangelicals would vote rather than any actual polling of Evangelicals in the pews.”

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