What We’ll Know and When We’ll Know It

Pre-election polls come and go, and obsessed as we are with them, they matter little when all is said and done. But exit polls are something else entirely, both for historians and political scientists assessing the significance of elections and for politicians and their minions planning for the future. Think, in recent years, of the amount of attention given the God Gap or the 2004 “Moral Values” vote. So as the polls close tonight, the exit polls will be on display for instant analysis; I expect to be doing a bit of it myself. I am, however, more aware than ever of the caveats.

Montana Dems and the None Factor

The first-take exit polls show Obama winning all attendance categories except weekly (more-than-weekly not large enough to register)–which is to say, he got the less religiously observant. He lost the Protestants sans Other Christians by a few points, but when combined, won them. He did much better among Catholics and Other Christians than among Protestants alone. He did best by far among those with no religion–19 percent of the voters–pulling 72 percent to Clinton’s 22 percent. Montana has nearly twice as many of these religious “Nones” as South Dakota, and in South Dakota he won that group by only eight percentage points, not 50.

Wisconsin for Obama?

No one has called Wisconsin yet on the Democratic side, but the exit polls look very good for Obama. Of particular note, he came within a few points of splitting the Catholic vote (48 percent to 51 percent for Clinton). That can’t help but bode well for him in states like Ohio and Pennsylvania.

State by State

Commentaries on the religious data from all available exit polls are finally posted (except Florida, which will be up tomorrow). Just click on the Exit Poll Commentary link under State by State to the left, and select the state of your choice. You’ll find a pie chart with the religious layout of each state, a summary of the caucus/primary results, and links to the full exit poll, if such exists. Comments and corrections welcome–use this post to do so. Your editor will make such adjustments as seem warranted.

Louisiana by Religion

So what happened religiously in Louisiana yesterday? In the black-white affair on the Democratic side, the only attendance category that Clinton won was the Nevers—the six percent of the Democratic vote who said they never go to chruch–who split for her 56 percent to 44 percent. Not a big deal. Obama did win the Catholic vote, 51 percent to 43 percent, but that was thanks to the large number of black Catholics in the state. White Catholics voters went for Clinton by a margin of 62 percent to 29 percent, a margin larger than the margin by which white Protestants voted for her (54 percent to 29 percent).

Super Tuesday Commentary

This is to let you know that commentary on the religious dimensions of the Super Tuesday voting is proceeding with all deliberate speed alphabetically, and has now reached Arkansas. You can reach it via the “Exit Poll Commentary” link under the State by State heading on the right-hand column.

CT for Obama

If any Super Tuesday state can be considered an upset win for Obama, it was Connecticut, where he was down double digits in the polls just a few weeks ago and came out on top by 51 percent to 47 percent. In today’s Hartford Courant, Mark Pazniokas has this secular account of how the Illinois senator did it. But there’s a religious back story. As was the case just about everywhere else in the country, Obama had a major problem with Catholics, losing them by a margin of 59 percent to 39 percent—and Catholics constituted 42 percent of the Democratic vote. This Catholic gap was, however, more than offset by Obama’s success in every other category—62 percent of the Protestants (including 55 Percent of white Protestants), 61 percent of the Jews, and 67 percent of religious “others” (Hindus, Buddhists, etc.

Georgia for Huck

The following is from my favorite informant on the doings of Christian conservatives in Georgia, a person I refer to as the Last Democrat in her suburban Atlanta church.I guess you saw last night the big voter turnout for Huckabee in GA – fueled by his non-stop appearances in white evangelical pulpits the last couple of months, appearances with Sonny Perdue, constant promotion by right-wing talk radio blabber Neal Boortz with WSB here in Atlanta with that “fair tax” baloney, etc. He was at a rally this weekend with the “GA Christian Alliance” (changed name after the national Christian Coalition kicked them out a couple of years ago because the GA bunch was too over the top for even them!) and that ding-bat Sadie Fields (an old Ralph Reed protégé who took over in GA after he came out of the lobbyist closet a few years back). And yes, my church was telling people to go vote for Huckabee this past Sunday, just like tons of others.Plus ca change…

Religious Coalitions and Super Tuesday

On Super Tuesday, John McCain benefited greatly from winner-take-all primaries in big states, but he also assembled the broad religious coalition that characterized his previous victories. California is a good example: he won the unaffiliated (43%) and white Catholics (40%), broke even with Romney among white Protestants (37%), and finished second among white evangelical Protestants (29%). He also racked up big wins among Latinos and Asians. Similar patterns appeared in the McCain vote New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, and Illinois. Hillary Clinton won the biggest states also by assembling a broad religious coalition.

Single Religious Constituencies and Super Tuesday

On Super Tuesday, Mike Huckabee won four Southern states with a strong evangelical vote: Alabama (51% of the white born again Protestant vote), Georgia (45%), and Tennessee (43%), plus his home state of Arkansas. Evangelical votes also allowed him to closely contest Missouri (44%) and Oklahoma (39%). These figures resemble Huckabee’s showing in Iowa, among evangelicals and overall. However, Huckabee did not broaden his support by very much, even in the states he won. This pattern hurt him in other parts of the country, where evangelicals were less numerous and less supportive of his candidacy.