Saturday, February 14, 2009

Values Voters in the 2008 Election

The latest issue of First Things (March 2009) has several great articles. One for number-crunchers is the piece by John C. Green "What Happened to the Values Voter? Believers and the 2008 Election." Drawing from the University of Akron, Post-Election Survey (which can be read in its entirety here), Green concludes that enough changed from 2004 to 2008 to swing the election to the Democrats, but not enough changed to signal any significant shift in voting patterns.

Below are net percentage changes in favor of the Democratic presidential candidate for various religious groups. A minus sign indicates a swing in favor of the Republicans. The number in parentheses indicates the percentage from that group that voted for their candidate of preference.

Minority Religious Groups
Black Protestants +12 (95% Obama)
Other Faiths +5 (81% Obama)
Ethnic Catholic/Other Catholic +9 (74% Obama)
Ethnic Protestants + 27 (52% Obama)

Unaffiliated +1 (73% Obama)

White Catholics
Modernist Catholics -8% (66% Obama)
Centrist Catholics -7% (66% McCain)
Traditionalist Catholics +17% (61% McCain)

White Mainline Protestants
Modernist Mainline Protestants -8% (61% Obama)
Centrist Mainline Protestants +4% (51% Obama)
Traditionalist Mainline Protestant -2% (68% McCain)

Other Christians -7% (72% McCain)

White Evangelical Protestants
Modernist Evangelical Protestants -1% (55% McCain)
Centrist Evangelical Protestants +2% (69% McCain)
Traditionalist Evangelical Protestants -1% (89% McCain)

ALL +5% (54% Obama)

So what should make of this data? Probably not too much.

Green summarizes:

Taken together, the results of 2008 reveal little evidence of a fundamental shift in the structure of faith-based voting. Just two groups showed changes large enough to alter their relative order in the presidential vote: Ethnic Protestants (who switched from Republican to Democrat) and Traditionalist Catholics (who become more Democratic than Centrist Catholics).

There are many ways to parse the election, but basically Obama was a likeable candidate in a bad year for Republicans. The Republican base was virtually unmoved, but the Democrats chipped away at the Catholic vote and won big (bigger than usual) among ethnic minorities, thanks no doubt to Obama's personal story and the Republicans' hardline stance on immigration. All in all, 5% more of the population voted for Obama than for Kerry, and that made for a 54-46 victory for Obama in 2008, whereas Bush won 51-49 in 2004.

So if you like numbers, there you go.


Stan McCullars said...

Looks like Black Protestants have a racism problem.

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