Evangelical Democrats, Ohio Style

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evangelical voting booth.jpgJim Wallis and Zogby were at it again last week, coming in behind the exit polls to discern the white evangelical vote in the Democratic primary in Ohio. According to the email teaser, these folks favored Clinton over Obama 57 percent to 35 percent. That’s a significant finding, given that white Protestants as a whole split for Clinton 67 percent to 30 percent (white Catholics, 65-34) in the Buckeye State. It’s the first statistical evidence I’ve seen to suggest that evangelicals are disproportionately attracted to Obama.
This is not what Faith in Public Life, the Center for American Progress Action Fund, and Sojourners want to emphasize, however. Their interest is, again, to demonstrate that there are indeed white evangelicals who vote Democratic. So their email’s first point is: “Forty-three percent of all white evangelical Ohio primary voters participated in the Democratic primary and 57 percent participated in the Republican primary.” That looks pretty impressive, until you realize that twice as many voters participated in Democratic than in the GOP primary. So if the turnout had been the same on both sides, then roughly three-quarters of white evangelicals would have voted on the Republican side–exactly the same proportion as usual.
The interesting question, to me at least, is whether there is any evidence of a shift of evangelicals from GOP to Democratic ranks, and to that end I proposed that Democratic-voting respondents be asked if they normally vote Democratic in national elections. On Monday we’ll find out if they took my suggestion. I’m not holding my breath.