In key states, worshippers who attend religious services more than once aweek favored Bush by impressive margins, according to early exit polls:Sixty-four percent in California, 60 percent in Pennsylvania, 52 percent inFlorida, for example.
Even of the voters who go to church only once a week a majority preferredthe Texas governor: Fifty-four percent in California, and 52 percent each inPennsylvania and Florida. Taken together, both groups make up a substantialchunk of the electorates in their respective states. In Pennsylvania, theyamount to a staggering 46 percent.
One notable exception was in New York, where 56 percent of all weeklychurchgoers were in Vice President Al Gore's camp.
The problem is that New York excepted, some unity in their support for Bushseemed to prevail chiefly between white Protestants and white Catholics.
However, that support was much weaker among Catholics than amongProtestants. In Florida, 52 percent of the former and 64 percent of thelatter voted for the Texas Governor. In California and in New York, eightout of 10 Jews chose Gore.
While common concerns about moral issues, such as abortion, might haveforged a semblance of unity between white evangelicals and Catholics, suchconcerns have not transcended ethnic barriers.
African-Americans, Catholic or Protestant, turned to Gore by margins of80-90 percent, even though they are the most religious of all Americans, aspollster George Barna has shown before Tuesday's vote.
These results lead observers of America's religious scene to a somewhatpessimistic conclusion about the fate of a vision by Ralph Reed, the formerexecutive director of the Christian Coalition: He had championed aconservative political collaboration between Catholics and evangelicals, butthis alliance is at best feeble.
Two years ago, Steven Wagner, head of QEV Analytics, a Washington pollinggroup, explained why this might be so. In an article in Crisis, a Catholicperiodical, he pointed out that traditional Catholics are on the whole notreally conservatives.
They are neither anti-government nor do they favor indiscriminate budgetcuts or unbridled free markets. Yet, like conservative evangelicals, theybelieve in an absolute standard of morality and resolutely resist the claimof a moral right to do wrong. Wagner calls this claim "a central tenet ofcontemporary liberalism."