Moral issues are dramatically less important this year than in previous years – even among the most religiously observant voters, according to the 2008 edition of the Twelve Tribes of American Politics.

Just 13% listed social issues first, half the number who did in the summer of 2004. 61% listed the economy first compared to 32% in 2004.

The Twelve Tribes were introduced in 2004 as a collaboration between Beliefnet and John Green of the Bliss Institute at University of Akron, based on the National Surveys of Religion and Politics. The premise: most political reporting acted as if there were two groups – the Religious Right and Everyone Else. So we crafted a new set of groupings, inspired by the twelve tribes of Biblical Israel, but formed around similarities in religious beliefs and practice. (More on the methodology here).

The 2008 Twelve Tribes survey, conducted from June-August, also found: 

  • A massive shift among Latino Protestants is what has fueled the hugely important move of Hispanics to the Democratic Party (more).

  • The centrist Tribes – Convertible Catholics, Whitebread Protestants and Moderate Evangelicals – have moved to the left on some social issues but have become more suspicious of government spending programs. Republicans remain strong with these groups (more). 

  • Much more.

Click here for the McCain-Obama breakdown, the full survey results, the methodology or Steven Waldman's full analysis.


Percent of voting-age population: 12.9%

Who are they: Highly orthodox white evangelical Protestants: 80% believe the Bible is literally true; 84% report attending worship once a week or more; 53% live in the South.

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