Will Religion Hurt Obama?

By: Melissa Keller

I’m sure its no news to America that there is a major gap among politics when it comes to religion. But as America enters a unique time in history, my question to you is whether or not this will really make a prominent impact on the 2008 election. According to a gallop poll conducted in June of this year, it’s hard to say who will have the advantage in this upcoming election.

When looking at these statistics it seems as if both candidates have a fair chance in stealing the votes this year, but is that really the case? As much as I’d like to think so, after analyzing some of history’s data it makes it difficult to really come to a conclusion.

For instance, according to the JTA religious Jews support U.S. Sen. John McCain for president in much higher numbers than non-religious Jews. This might either be because of their religious beliefs, or like many studies have shown, is linked to the fact that many republican voters simply attend faithful services on a regular basis. It is a known fact that voters who attend to a church of some kind on a regular basis are more likely to vote republican than those who do not. People who attend a religious setting at least once a week have different values and morals than the average person who does not, which explains why they might side with the republicans.

“Forget the gender gap. The ‘religion gap’ is bigger, more powerful and growing. The divide isn’t between Catholics and Protestants, Jews and Gentiles. Instead, on one side are those of many faiths who go to services, well, religiously: Catholics who attend Mass without fail, evangelical Christians and mainline Protestants who show up for church rain or shine, some Orthodox Jews. On the other side are those who attend religious services only occasionally or never.” –Susan Page, USA Today

In fact, according to William Schneider the religion gap has become much larger than economic class when it comes to political division. He also states that this might not be whether voters believe one candidate is more religious than the other, but instead more of to what degree do they feel the candidate will allow faith to guide them in their decisions.

For instance, God lovers are indeed in love with current Vice Presidential Nominee Gov. Sara Palin. She inspires believers by relating her conservativeness to her strong religion and home life. What they see in her is a sense of hope for a better country, one that has faith. I have no doubt that with Palin on the ticket this November, McCain might actually have a chance in winning this thing.

Although the GOP has fallen in love with Palin, there’s still room for critics who constantly speculate the motives behind her decisions as Governor. For example her description of the natural gas pipeline from Alaska as a “blessing from God” seemed a bit extreme for some. Her strong beliefs also influence her values on current important issues such as gay rights and abortion. This has caught the eyes of many church goers who too have similar morals and opinion on the subjects.

Like I have said before, this pattern of voting habits have been present for years and as the number of church goers continue to grow, so does the chance of republicans winning every election. Here are some polls taken in 2004 on religious voting habits:

The more frequently Americans attend religious services, the more conservative they are likely to be, an examination of USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup Polls found. Frequency of church attendance and how respondents viewed themselves politically:

Church attendance




Once a week




Almost every week




Once a month












Source: USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup Polls taken from February 2003 to May 2004. More than 7,000 respondents combined from seven surveys; margin of error: +/- less than 2 percentage points.

The more frequently Americans attend religious services, the more likely they are to vote for republicans.



More than once a week



Once a week



Once or twice a month



A few times a year









Source: National Survey of Religion and Politics, University of Akro

If this voting pattern persists in the 08’ elections, does that mean it will be the end of Barack Obama?


Filed under Democratic Party, McCain, Obama, Republican

2 responses to “Will Religion Hurt Obama?

  1. balaban13

    Great info, Melissa. I wanted to add some additional information pertaining to the Jewish vote. During the DNC, I attended an open forum which discussed the past and current trends of this portion of the electorate. The panel, which consisted of both Republicans and Democrats, came to a conclusion that Obama’s support among the Jews is about on the same level (average) as any other Democratic candidates. In fact, they said that if he gathers anywhere from 60-65%, he’ll do relatively well.

    For my final project, I intend on exploring Jewish vote and its effects in states such as Pennsylvania and Florida. So, I can report on that subject once the election is over and the data is out.

  2. Stephen Noriega

    I would argue that people are not going to church more often. If you have data, I’d love to see it.

    I also think that Obama might be able to make some inroads into the religious community. Some of his values, in helping the less advantaged and confronting fathers who do not take responsibility for their children, resonate with that group. John McCain has said some careless things about evangelicals. Together with campaign finance reform, his relationship with the Religious Right is tenuous at best.

    Thanks for all of that information. I was impressed.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s