Faith Based in NH

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By way of addenda to John’s overview of the religious breakdown of the NH vote (here for exit poll data), first one note on the GOP side. Huckabee far outstripped all other GOP candidates with more than one-third of the 9 percent of Republican voters who said they attended worship more than once a week; and at 21 percent finished a very respectable third among the weekly attenders. But the total of these most observant GOP voters does not exceed the number of evangelical voters supporting him. In short, it’s not clear that Huckabee made any inroads among frequent attending non-evangelicals. Unavailable cross-tabs would give the precise answer, of course.
On the Democratic side, the most striking result is Obama’s plurality among both the non-attenders and the most frequent ones, while Clinton prevailed among the, ah, lukewarm. Cf. Revelation 3:16: “So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth.” Biblical editorializing aside, this raises an intriguing question about how Obama managed to win the extremes. (Note that there seem to have been too few “more than weeklies” among the Democrats to register.)

John suggests that Obama’s success among the non-attenders has to do with the fact that he did so well among younger voters, who famously have low worship attendance rates, and that seems plausible. Yet given the very large margin by which Obama won the support of those who profess no religion, there seems to me little doubt that his appeal to non-attenders extended beyond the young. Then there are the weekly attenders, who preferred Obama over Clinton by a sizable 38 percent to 31 percent. What would explain that? National survey data show that Americans see Obama as more religious than Cl;inton, and It would seem that this translated into votes in NH. My surmise is that this view of Obama is the result both of his greater readiness to engage religion on the stump and of the prevailing assumption in American culture that African Americans are religious. The latter fact, meanwhile, may permit secular white voters to bracket off an African American’s religiosity as nothing to worry about–a black thing.
One final note. The strong Catholic preference for Clinton in NH would seem to have less to do with religion than with the pro-Clinton proclivities of old-line moderate-to-conservative Democratic base in the state. White Catholics in New England, it’s important to recognize, are much more likely to vote Democratic than white Catholics in the rest of country.