hillary6.jpgThis is big news for Hillary Clinton: a new Gallup poll shows her with a major advantage among religious white Democrats over Barack Obama. God-o-Meter had recently reported that it was Obama’s religious outreach that appeared to be paying higher dividends, in light of his landslide victories over Clinton among frequent churchgoers in South Carolina and other religious states. According to Gallup Editor-in-Chief Frank Newport, however, those results spoke more to Obama’s racial appeal among blacks–who tend to be frequent churchgoers–than to any kind of religious appeal:

All in all, in interviews conducted Feb. 15-20 as part of Gallup Poll Daily election tracking, 57% of white, non-Hispanic Democratic voters who attend church support Clinton, while only 29% support Obama. Among those who attend church less frequently or never, Clinton’s support drops while Obama’s climbs.
This analysis is based on white Democrats. There is less of a relationship between candidate support and religion among black Democrats, who are both highly religious and highly likely to support Obama.

The Gallup analysis notes that the ranks of frequent Democratic churchgoers may be too small to make a big difference in the Obama-Clinton standoff:

Whether this national pattern can bolster her efforts to prevail over Obama as the Democratic nominee is less clear. For one thing, the percentage of the white Democratic electorate that is highly religious is smaller than is the case among Republicans. In the sample used for this analysis, 25% of white Democrats attend church weekly, while 57% say they seldom or never attend church. Thus, the allegiance of highly religious white Democrats has limited impact in that they constitute a minority of white Democratic voters. Still, in a close election, small voter segments can make a difference.

But God-o-Meter notes that next week’s Texas and Ohio primaries, considered must-wins for Clinton, are likely to see a higer proportion of white Democratic churchgoers than most other primaries. If Clinton pulls off victories there, her appeal to white churchgoers is guaranteed to get a lot more attention.


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