fpl.gifGod-o-Meter recently reported on a new poll by the evangelical group Faith in Public Life that found Hillary Clinton led Barack Obama among white evangelicals in Tennessee and Missouri and that more evangelicals were voting Democratic in those states than did in the 2004 general election. But an analysis of the poll by the nonpartisan Rothenberg Political Report casts doubt on the poll’s methodology and conclusions:

According to the poll, 34% of white evangelical voters in Missouri and 32% of white evangelical voters in Tennessee participated in the Democratic primary….
But instead of just putting the numbers out on their own, Faith in Public Life offered a flawed and misleading suggestive comparison to the 2004 general election. According to the memo, “One in three white evangelical voters in Missouri and Tennessee participated in Democratic primaries. Comparatively, only one in four white evangelical voters in Missouri and Tennessee supported John Kerry in the 2004 general election.”
This is one of those “apples to oranges” comparisons that simply ought never be done. You can’t compare general election voter behavior from four years ago with primary election voter participation.
Primary and general electorates are very different in both their size and makeup. And since both Missouri and Tennessee have no party registration and open primaries, any registered voter can choose which primary to participate in. That means it is virtually impossible to draw conclusions about the makeup of either party’s electorate since there are almost certainly some crossover voters from the other party, as well as Independents, in the mix.


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