Evangelicals are a small proportion of the national population – just 7% of all adults. But they tend to capture the imagination and attention of the national media and political pundits.
The survey data consistently show that evangelical Christians have among the highest rates of voting turnout among all voter groups and are, in fact, strikingly different from the rest of the population — even from other born again Christians who are not evangelical.
However, born again Christians in general chose their candidate based on different criteria than did evangelicals. The major motivations among born again Christians who are not evangelical were political experience (20%), ideas about the country’s future (18%), character (17%), and economic policies (17%).
To highlight the contrast in priorities, note that just 7% of evangelicals identified economic policy as a motivator, and only 8% of the non-evangelical born again Christians listed the candidate’s positions on moral issues.
Many observers were surprised to discover that born again Christians, who are about 43% of the adult population, were just as likely to be registered as Democrats as Republicans. (…)
Three-fourths of atheists and agnostics (76%) gave their vote to Sen. Obama, while only 23% backed Sen. McCain. That is a step up from the level of support Democrats have previously received from skeptics. In 2004, 64% of atheists and agnostics voted for Democratic challenger John Kerry
Assessing the voting outcomes by race and faith, the survey showed that there were no statistically significant differences between black born again voters and black non-born again voters. Similarly, there were no meaningful distinctions in candidate preference between Hispanic born agains and Hispanic non-born again voters. Overall, Sen. Obama claimed more than 90% of the African-American vote and three-quarters of the Hispanic vote. He won just 41% of the white vote.
One-fourth of all American adults (27%) claim they are “stressed out.” Among that group, Sen. Obama won a 61% to 38% victory.
One out of every ten adults (9%) consider themselves to “feel lonely or isolated.” Among these individuals, Sen. Obama reaped 57% of their votes.
Among voters who had a favorable view of Wicca, Sen. Obama was the favored candidate 64% to 35%.
Surprisingly, three-quarters of the nation’s voters said they were “optimistic about the future.” Even more surprisingly, Sen. Obama eeked out a narrow 52% to 48% triumph among that group.
The Republican challenger generally won over a majority of people whose beliefs reflected a conservative Christian faith. For instance, he won (…) 63% of those who believe that Satan is a living, influential force…
On the ideological extremes, Sen. McCain won over 81% of conservative voters, while Sen. Obama took 91% of the votes of liberals. (Conservatives were twice as numerous as liberals.) The election was won by Sen. Obama reaping two-thirds (65%) of the moderate vote.
Barna noted that in 2008, traditional issues did not energize the right.
“There was substantial issue fatigue related to the moral issues that usually rev up the troops on the right. Although the candidates had very distinct and dissimilar views on moral issues such as abortion and gay marriage, those differences were not deal breakers for most voters. Voters are tired of fighting battles that seem interminable. And in a year when there were so many other significant crises and conflicts to consider, people’s focus shifted away from the usual throat-wringing issues.”
“It’s possible that the Catholic vote has now returned to the Democratic fold until another Ronald Reagan emerges to lead the Republicans. And ethnic voters flexed their muscle and came away with a win. Who would have suspected that African-Americans and Hispanics would have forged a bulletproof alliance?
But they did this time around, and if Senator Obama fulfills his promise and his promises, then 2008 might have birthed a very significant new voting bloc for the future – one that is already 30% of the population and growing.”
“The born again body continues to lean Republican, but there are warning signs that the cozy relationship has been seriously damaged. Because they are almost half of the voting population, neither party can take the born again universe for granted – or write it off. Both parties are likely to court the born again faithful in hopes of gaining their allegiance next time out. The moderate wing of that body is especially vulnerable. Once the Party’s strategists have digested the significance of their losses among the born again contingent, the romancing will begin in earnest.”