stoneuphill.jpgYesterday, Missouri State University religion professor/Immanent Frame blogger John Schmalzbauer (politely) accused God-o-Meter of underestimating Democrats’ potential to win over some evangelicals in November.
He could be right. It’s just that when GOM sees polls reporting 60-percent evangelical support for John McCain vs. 23-percent for Barack Obama, despite Obama’s months-long evangelical charm offensive and McCain’s endless evangelical/religious bungling, it begins to wonder: are evangelical voting patterns are too deeply entrenched to be changed?
Schmalzbauer notes that Obama’s mission in improving his showing among evangelicals is pretty modest:

Let me begin by saying that 30% for Obama is still a lot of evangelicals, probably 6-10% of the electorate. This is larger than the Jewish vote, the Asian-American vote (which is 6.4% of the population), and nearly as large as the African-American vote. So it makes little sense for Democrats to write off this constituency.

It’s a significant point. God-o-Meter went back to the results in Ohio in 2004, where the presidential election was decided for George W. Bush, to see whether a modest uptick in evangelical support for Obama (over what Kerry got in ’04) could swing an election.
Here’s what it found:
In Ohio, white evangelicals constituted 25-percent of the electorate, roughly the same proportion as in the national electorate. Bush took 76-percent of the evangelical vote. Kerry got 24 percent. All other factors being equal, if Obama is able to take 29-percent of Ohio’s white evangelicals and pull down McCain’s evangelical support to 71-percent, he’ll win the state, and–if the 2004’s national electoral map were to repeat itself–the White House.
It’s a good reminder: American elections are won or lost at the margins.


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