Here’s the summary paragraph on religion from today’s L.A. Times/Bloomberg poll:
McCain has had his troubles with the very conservative voters, as well as the very religious. They haven’t trusted him since he ran for president in 2000 against Bush and they are having a hard time this time around as well. Just over half of voters who consider themselves part of the religious right said they would vote for McCain, 17% would vote for another candidate, while a fifth of them are still undecided. Half of white evangelicals said they would endorse McCain, while 21% would vote for Obama, 12% for another candidate and 17% are undecided. What helped Bush get elected twice was his conservative, evangelical base, which to this day is still probably his only loyal and dedicated constituency. But McCain cannot depend on the conservative nor religious groups to win in November. To illustrate this problem — among those who attend weekly religious services or more are voting for Obama by 43% to 37% and those who go to houses of worship less than that are also supporting Obama but by an even wider margin – 47% to 32%.
Unfortunately, the release doesn’t include tables for these results, but based on this account two things seem clear: 1) Obama has erased the God Gap (the preference of frequent worship attenders for the Republican candidate); and 2) that erasure has come about because of the frequent attenders who are not white evangelicals. The latter do, to be sure, seem lukewarm about McCain. But the 21 percent who say they would vote for Obama is a smaller proportion than what the Democratic candidate usually gets from this group. Obama will doubtless pick up some of the undecideds and those favoring another candidate, but not the lion’s share.
What’s odd about this survey is that it does in fact show frequent attenders backing Obama–when in state after state, SUSA shows McCain winning them, and often by hefty margins. This can’t be explained, I don’t think, by assuming that this gap is overcome by pro-Obama margins in big Democratic states, because in, for example, California, McCain carries the regular attenders by 20 points. So color me puzzled.
Update: Swing state Missouri likewise, in spades.