(6:41) Like God-o-Meter was saying earlier, the Democrats’ likely gains among various faith constituencies were probably aided by Democratic/progressive faith outreach, but the economy is the main driver. Early AP exit polls:
Economy most important issue: Six in 10 voters
Family situation gotten worse in last four years: At least four in 10 voters
(6:46) Early evangelical numbers: CNN’s Bill Schneider just reported that McCain won white evangelical voters 72-percent to 26-percent. But that’s not the full story. Obama did much better among white evangelicals among may states, winning Minnesota. And in a handful of states, including all-important Ohio, he narrowed Bush’s evangelical advantage significantly.
(7:00) Beliefnet’s Steve Waldman reports that exit polls show that Obama has narrowed the God Gap substantially:
Bush beat Kerry among weekly church-goers by 61-percent – 39-percent. McCain is beating Obama 54%-44%
Steve Schmidt, talking to reporters today on McCain’s plane as they made two final stops, offered a revealing non-answer when asked if he was happy with the selection of Sarah Palin.
“You know, we’ll uh, I’m not going to do, there’ll be time for all the post mortems in the race,” Schmidt said.
Asked if he was happy with what she had done for the ticket, Schmidt again deflected the question.
“I think that, you know, I think we’ll know in a few hours what the results are, you know and I, there’ll be a time for all the post mortem parts of it,” Schmidt said. “That’s not this afternoon before the polls close.”
Plainly, Schmidt is trying to be a good soldier in the waning hours of the election. But that he wouldn’t offer even the sparest of phrase for his candidate’s running mate while polls are still open underscores the perception, reinforced by polls, that she hurt more than helped.
(8:02) Could evangelical turnout be up over 2004?
That’d be something, given that 3.5 million more evangelicals turned out that year than in 2000, mostly thanks to Karl Rove’s and the GOP’s unprecedented evangelical get-out-the-vote effort. But Huffington Post reports that Indiana, evangelical turnout is up over 2004, with Obama making modest gains over John Kerry:
42% of voters are white evangelicals, up from 35% in 2004. McCain is getting 68% of their support. Bush captured 77% of the vote in 2004.
Still, that’s a net gain for McCain. Trends like that elsewhere would put an end to the theory that evangelicals are unexcited about McCain. Is there Sarah Palin’s handiwork?
(8:14) Fox News Channel is projecting that state senator Kay Hagan has defeated North Carolina Senator Elizabeth Dole. The race recently saw Dole airing an ad insinuating that Hagan was “Godless”–and a response ad from Hagan testifying to her faith. More evidence that Dems can talk about faith and win. Makes 2004 seem like ancient history.
(9:00) A handful of sources suggest that the Kay “Godless” Hagan’s defeat of North Carolina U.S. Senator Elizabeth Dole was decisive. It wasn’t a squeaker. This was a state that then North Carolina Senator John Edwards couldn’t carry for the Kerry-Edwards ticket in 2004.
(9:12) Nowhere did the white evangelical vote matter more in 2004 than in Ohio. Evangelicals there, who constituted 25-percent broke for George Bush over John Kerry 76-24. And according to CNN’s exit polls, McCain did exceedingly well among Ohio white evangelicals today, winning them 70-29. Bush level, no, but Bush had a very special bond with evangelical voters. This is totally in line with how Republicans have performed with white evangelicals historically.
So much for white evangelicals souring to John McCain. And get this: white evangelicals accounted for a full 30-percent of voters in Ohio today. If McCain loses tonight, as expected, Sarah Palin will doubtless get a lot of blame. But it looks like she did her job in a lot of places: rallying the party’s evangelical base.
(9:30) Exit polls in Indiana: White evangelicals break for McCain 69-30, compared to 2004′s 77-22 break for Bush. An improvement for Democrats, no question. But GOM stresses that comparing 2008 evangelical numbers to 2004 ain’t fair, given Bush’s special bond with those voters.
What really strikes GOM is that evangelical turnout, as high as it was in 2004, is up even higher as a share of the total electorate this year: 43-percent of the electorate in Indiana today, compared to 35-percent in 2004. This blows the theory that evangelicals would stay home this year out of the water. Exactly the opposite has happened.
(10:07) In Ohio, which the networks have called for Obama, the Illinois senator won Catholics 51-47. That’ compared to a 55-44 Ohio Catholic breakdown for Bush in 2004. It’s a small but significant inroad for Obama. That’s what his faith outreach seems to be adding up to: modest but important gains among important faith constituencies–though still losing some of the important ones–that are adding up to narrow victories in places lik the Buckeye State.
(10:15) The media, and GOM, are obsessed with how white evangelicals and white Catholics are voting. Obama is making modest inroads among those groups compared to 2004, though the patterns in those groups line up with the historical patterns that predated 2004. But he’s making much bigger gains among minority voters and those who identify as having no religion. In 2004, “white nones” went to Bush 64 – 36. This time, they broke for Obama 74 – 12. Now that’s an inroad. Yes, Obama is making some gains among the faithful. But it’s the unreligious who really swoon for him.
(10:50) In Pennsylvania, Obama lost Catholics 52 – 48, even though John Kerry narrowly won them in 2004. Obama split Protestants evenly with McCain. So how did he win the Keystone state? Big spikes in the “other religion” and “no religion” categories. That’s as important a story as the (much remarked upon) success of Obama’s religious outreach.
(11:00) Obama wins.