For a year now, the Bush campaign has pushed to mobilize a record number of evangelical Christians so they would make up a greater portion of the 2004 electorate.

Didn't happen. 76% of evangelicals voted for Bush this time; 79% did last time.

For months now, John Kerry has been talking about his Catholic upbringing so that he could surge ahead of Bush in that crucial swing group.

Didn't happen. Kerry got 50% of the Catholic vote. So did Gore.

For four years, we've heard debates among the very religious and the more secular about who should control politics. Both sides tried to increase their influence relative to the other.

Neither succeeded. Those who go to church regularly voted Republcan and Democratic in the same numbers as last time.

At this point, the religious breakdown looks very much as it did in 2000. Catholics voted for Kerry by a few points as they ahd voted for Gore by a view points. There was an increase in evangelical Christian voters but they made up the same portion of the electorate

Having said all that, the results so far indicate a wide disparity in the voting behavior of religious groups depending on the state. Catholics in Wisconsin went for Kerry; Catholics in Ohio went for Bush. So the ultimate faith story will not be known until the final results are.

There's much we don't know about the religious breakdown at this hour but here are some interesting trends or trendlets:

Bush did make a little bit of headway among Jews, winning 23% as compared to 17% last time - but that still didn't come close to the GOP goal.

Those who ask, "How come there's no religious left?" might want to look at the African American vote. Very religious and very Democratic. The Bush administration attempted to increase the president's draw among that group by emphasizing the faith based initiative and oppositition to gay marriage. But only 11% voted for Bush, about the same as last time, perhaps a last minute reaction to news reports about voter suppression efforts targeted at minorities.

In a way, the significance of the overwhelming victory Bush had among evangelicals is obscured by the media focus on battleground states in recent weeks. Bush's strength among conservative Christians put huge swaths of the country simply out of reach for Kerry, requiring him to carry a high percentage of northeastern and midwestern states.

Of the 15 states with the highest evangelical population, all went for Bush - compiling a total of 121 electoral votes.

more from beliefnet and our partners
Close Ad