5 Takeaways from Vote 2012

Values & moral concerns resonate in an economy-driven election

BY: G. Jeffrey MacDonald

 

Messages sent in elections are notoriously murky and subject to varied interpretations. But voters in 2012 made clear that they’re still voting their values, albeit sometimes in ways that buck conventional formulas.

Exit polls from the presidential contest suggested that core moral values might have held more sway than religious doctrines or even political philosophies. Now the parties need to read the tea leaves for what it all means going forward.

Five important takeaways have floated to surface:

1) Family comes first for Latinos. When all was said and done, Hispanic Catholics lined up strongly behind President Obama. They gave him 75 percent of their votes (up from 72 percent in 2008), according to exit poll analysis from the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life. Immigration reform was a top priority for Hispanic voters this year, according to Miguel Rivera, president of the National Coalition of Latino Clergy and Christian Leaders. Though Obama failed to act on the status of some 11 million undocumented immigrants in his first term, Latinos still trusted him more than Romney to get it done soon. At stake for many is whether family members will be allowed to work and stay together, or live under the threat of deportation indefinitely.

Republicans insist they should be the party of Latinos, who tend to be regular churchgoers and hold socially conservative views. But the GOP’s positions on abortion and same-sex marriage can’t sway those who want, first and foremost, promising paths for their loved ones. Family values prevailed in a raw sense over ideology. And if Obama gets credit for passing immigration reform in the future, it could be hard for Republicans to win these voters’ hearts.

2) Republicans are broadening their religious coalition. God’s Old Party, as it’s playfully known, broke new ground by lining up support behind a non-Protestant presidential nominee. Evangelicals overcame hesitations about voting for a Mormon as 79 percent cast ballots for Romney. In another interesting sign, 85 percent of Americans living in Israel voted for Romney as well. While Jews overall went for Obama, 30 percent voted for the GOP nominee, up from 21 percent in 2008. Efforts to bring the devout from various backgrounds under one political tent are arguably making progress.

3) Democrats attract non-traditionalists, who nonetheless vote values. As growing numbers of Americans (nearly 20 percent) profess no religious affiliation, Democrats are reaping the harvest of their skeptical votes. Sixty-two percent of those who never attend religious services voted for Obama. In fact, it’s now proven that the less often one worships, the more likely he/she is to vote Democratic.

Continued on page 2: Demographic shifts »

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