Obama Made Gains Among Younger Evangelical Voters, Data Show

You'll hear many talk about how religion and democrats dont go together.  Also many were upset that Barack Obama's campaign to target religious voters, but it seemed to payoff.

Why do I duscuss this, because its an important discussion to have in order to talk about how to engage young voters.

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/07/us/pol itics/07religion.html?ref=politics&p agewanted=print

</<br> Obama Made Gains Among Younger Evangelical Voters, Data Show

President-elect Barack Obama succeeded in chiseling off small but significant chunks of white evangelical voters who have been the foundation of the Republican Party for decades, a close look at voting patterns reveals.

The change reflects a broader shift among religious voters in every category. Mr. Obama made gains among Catholics, Jews and mainline Protestants, compared with the Democratic presidential nominee in 2004, Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts.

But the big question was whether Mr. Obama could appeal to evangelicals -- born-again Christians, who make up about a quarter of the electorate and have been largely Republican stalwarts.

Early in the campaign, he mobilized a team led by the Rev. Joshua DuBois, a Pentecostal pastor, who focused on reaching out to politically moderate evangelicals, Catholics and mainline Protestants.

"The Obama campaign really made a decision to target their efforts to moderates," said Mara Vanderslice, founder and director of the Matthew 25 Network, a political action group that ran advertisements on Christian radio for Mr. Obama. "Their plan was never to go after people who'd been voting Republican for 20 years."

"There never was an aggressive outreach effort to white Southern Baptist evangelicals in the South; that wasn't the focus," added Ms. Vanderslice, an evangelical Christian who was Mr. Kerry's director of religious outreach.

Campaign workers contacted individual ministers, even those they knew would not necessarily vote for Mr. Obama, and mailed copies of his speeches on faith and politics to thousands of them.

For some, the campaign arranged meetings or phone calls with Mr. Obama, a first-term senator from Illinois. The goal, organizers said, was to humanize him as a person of genuine faith, so that even those pastors who opposed him would be hesitant to attack him publicly.

The campaign also visited about 10 Christian colleges in swing states, often staging events with Donald Miller, a bestselling author popular with younger evangelicals and an Obama supporter. And campaign workers organized more than 900 "American values house parties," in which Obama supporters invited members of their church to talk politics.

The payoff was both generational and geographic. Mr. Obama doubled his support among young white evangelicals (those ages 18 to 29) compared with Mr. Kerry. The increase was almost the same for white evangelicals ages 30 to 44.

"There is definitely a generational division," said David P. Gushee, professor of Christian ethics at Mercer University and author of "The Future of Faith in American Politics: The Public Witness of the Evangelical Center."

"Young evangelicals," Dr. Gushee said, are "attracted to a broader agenda" beyond abortion and homosexuality, that includes the environment, poverty, human rights and torture.

Nationwide, most white evangelicals remained in the Republican camp despite misgivings they voiced about the depth of Senator John McCain's commitment to a conservative social agenda. Mr. McCain, of Arizona, held 74 percent of the white evangelical vote, compared with 24 percent for Mr. Obama -- a gain of only three percentage points over Mr. Kerry.

But in most of the swing states where Mr. Obama's campaign concentrated, like Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Virginia, his gains over Mr. Kerry in 2004 among white evangelicals were larger.

Mr. Obama improved his standing by 10 points among white evangelicals in Colorado. The state is home to what many consider to be the capitol of evangelical America, Colorado Springs, where dozens of conservative megaministries like Focus on the Family have their headquarters and employ tens of thousands of people.

He also did well with Catholics, who make up about a quarter of the American electorate, winning 54 percent of that vote compared with 45 percent for Mr. McCain. Most of the Catholic boost for Mr. Obama came from Hispanic Catholics, who are now 6 percent of the electorate.

Mr. Obama, a member of the United Church of Christ, a Protestant denomination, managed to increase his share of the Catholic vote by seven percentage points over Mr. Kerry, who is a Catholic.
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Tags: evangelical voters, obama, Religious Voters, young voters (all tags)

Comments

8 Comments

Re: Obama Made Gains Among

lets see if it survives the next 4 years. I believe the Christian Right, emboldened by Prop 8 passing in a state Obama won 60% of the vote, will use gay marriage as their rallying cry.

by Lakrosse 2008-11-09 06:54PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama Made Gains Among

Well they'll certainly use it as a wedge.

by Jess81 2008-11-09 06:57PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama Made Gains Among

The younger evangelicals I know, while a mixed bag on the morality of homosexuality in general, aren't opposed to gay rights legally.  Some might support civil unions rather than marriage as such, but they're generally amenable to the notion that LGBT couples should have the same legal protections as straight couples.

Just my experience, though... I don't really have any data to back that up.

by mistersite 2008-11-09 07:03PM | 0 recs
YES

Yup I'm one of them!!!

by hocuspocus 2008-11-09 10:16PM | 0 recs
Get 'em while they're young

Obama is clever.  How do you hijack a movement?  Appeal to the people who aren't leaders now, but will be leaders in ten to twenty years.  If he can prove to the young evangelicals that there's a better way to exemplify Christian values than knee-jerk fundamentalism, it creates division within the Religious Right between parents and children, and allows the chance for someone to take them in a new direction down the road.

by Dracomicron 2008-11-10 05:36AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama Made Gains

Here's some similar data I put on the frontpage, although I didn't delve into age.

http://www.mydd.com/story/2008/11/5/2134 14/946

Thanks for this, good stuff.

by Nathan Empsall 2008-11-10 06:12AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama Made Gains

Younger evangelicals are more drawn to the key moral issues of the 21st century -- poverty and the environment -- than they are to the culture wars of the last one -- reproductive and gay rights. As long as there are enough old warriors, these are still tough battles. But that generation is being outnumbered by a new generation with different demographics and different priorities.

Obama has been brilliant in his framing of faith issues, appealing to younger people of a variety of faiths as well as evangelicals -- not necessarily to win their vote this time, but to speak a language and address concerns that transcend party affiliation. His goal is to produce effective alliances in the short term -- and in the long term, perhaps bring some of those voters into the Democratic camp.

by BobzCat 2008-11-10 07:48AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama Made Gains Among Younger Evangelical Vot

I have wondered for a long time if there isn't a group of christians larger than the Focus on the Family types that values the freedom to have whatever relationship with their god is demanded by their conscience that is afforded by secular government; people of faith who understand how much they benefit from the separation if church and state.

by lockewasright 2008-11-10 09:18AM | 0 recs

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