Bush won 62% of white Protestants versus 35% for Gore, and won 79% of those identified by pollsters as "religious right." By contrast, Dole won 70% of the religious right and 46% of white protestants.
Sharp religious differences in the Presidential vote help explain the contest's excruciatingly close margin.
Each candidate drew strong support from key religious constituencies, and the differences were much sharper than in 1996. For Al Gore, that meant overwhelming support from black Protestants (90% to 8%) and Jews (81% to 17%). These groups supported Gore at a higher rate than they supported Bill Clinton in 1996-for blacks 90% to 84%, and for Jews 81% to 78%.
There appear to be some differences in turnout among each party's core constituencies. For starters, Jews made up 3% of the electorate in 1996; this year they were 4%. Jews supported the Democratic ticket at a slightly higher rate than in 1996 (81% to 78%). Both results were clearly the result of Joe Lieberman's candidacy.
Black Protestants appear to have held steady at 9% of the electorate, the same figure as in 1996. However, members of the religious right appear to have voted at a lower rate in 2000, falling to 14 % of the electorate from 17% in 1996.
Gore's choice of Lieberman as his running mate appears to have helped the ticket. Twice as many voters claimed that Lieberman made a vote for Gore more, rather than less, likely (17% to 8%). The former voted solidly for Gore (61% to 36%), and the latter solidly for Bush (71% to 22%). However, nearly three-quarters of the electorate reported that Lieberman had no effect on their vote, and they divided their support almost evenly between the candidates.
The impact of religion can also be seen in worship attendance. Voters who attend worship services more than once a week strongly backed Bush (62% to 36%). In contrast, voters who never attend religious services backed Gore at nearly the same rate (62% to 29% for Bush).
Meanwhile, for many voters, it appears that moral questions trumped economic concerns. For example, the 57% of voters who claimed the country was on the "wrong track" morally backed Bush nearly two-to-one over Gore (62% to 33%). In contrast, the 39% who felt the country was on the "right track" supported Gore by an even greater margin (70% to 27%).
Another example is the contentious issue of abortion. Voters who believed that abortion should always be legal backed the Vice President 71% to 24%, while those who believed abortion should always be illegal support Bush by a similar margin (73% to 23%). Voters who felt abortion should be mostly legal or mostly illegal fell between these extremes.