Ballot Box

How religion played in the midterm elections

Ballot Box

Ballot Box

 This image is available for web and print publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.

Simply put, the more things changed, the more they stayed the same. According to yesterday's exit polls, the religious layout of the electorate looks almost identical to the last midterm election in 2010, and not much different from the 2012 presidential election.

In 2010, Protestants voted Republican 59 percent to 38 percent, this time it was 60-38. (White Protestants went from 69-28 to 71-27.) As for Catholics, it was 54-44 Republican in 2010, 53-45 this year, with white Catholics staying at exactly 59-39. For the Nones, it was 68-30 Democratic in 2010 and 69-29 this year. The only significant difference from 2012 came among Catholics, who that year voted narrowly Democratic, 50-48. At 57-42, Protestants were only marginally less Republican.

The one group that appears to have shifted significantly compared to the last midterm were members of "other religions" -- Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, etc. In 2010, three out of four voted Democratic, while this time around it was two out of three. And given that their proportion of the vote increased from 8 percent to 11 percent, that was not a trivial number of votes.

You're wrong, however, if you think that this shift came from Jewish voters disillusioned with the Democratic Party. Jews voted Democratic by 65-33 yesterday, as compared to 66-31 in 2010. Its the other Others who shifted.

Other than that modest increase in the Others, nothing much changed in terms of the religious proportions of the electorate compared to 2010. Protestants dipped a bit, from 55 percent to 52 percent. Despite reports of their decline, white evangelicals increased one point, from 25 percent to 26 percent. Catholics increased their share by a point as well, to 24. And the Nones, despite evidence of their rise, continue to punch below their demographic weight, remaining at 12 percent. (The latest numbers show them at 20 percent of the adult American population.)

Finally, what about the key factor of worship attendance? Those who said they attended once a week or more voted 58-40 Republican in 2010, 59-39 Republican in 2012, and 58-41 this year. For the non-weekly attenders, the comparison is harder to make, because the 2010 exit polls did not separate occasional attenders from those who said they never darkened a worship space.

Be that as it may, it does look as though there's been some shift away from the Democrats on the part of those who attend worship irregularly. Perhaps charges of an Obamaite "war on religion" by evangelical and Catholic leaders have gotten through.


  1. The less religious influence on political decision-making and other decision-making, the better.

  2. Joan, the only reason God allows the US to continue is because of the Christians.

  3. Hi Mark,
    Looks like you are borrowing from Pew research today. Of course you did a bit of editorial commenting in the last paragraph. I take my opportunity here to comment before the raging comments began against Christianity and religion per say, as they usually do on this page.

    I’m one of the believers in Christ who doesn’t need to place my faith in the GOP, you know “the Party Of God”, or any other party. Yes, my wife and I voted in Lee County, Alabama against Mike Hubbard, you know, the one with 21 indictments against him. He won. We should have been surprised in this university community (“Go War Eagles”), but we are not. After all nearly every physicians office I have entered in the last ten years has the Television in the waiting room tuned to Fox News. I’d like to think that any doctor I go to is a person of science and has been taught to evaluate matters seeking the truth, frighting to think they leave their head at the office door. Thank the Lord, My cardiovascular physician is different he has a big screen TV tuned to soothing visuals and very low sound in the waiting room.
    I believe this has helped prevent heart attacks right there in the waiting room for moderates like me (as few as we are).

    On another matter, hardly a week goes by that I don’t hear someone say that our rights are being taken away. Parker, the mayor of Houston has really helped fan the flames of such thinking (you know subpoenas for sermons), before she backed down. I did as I always do when I hear of religious rights being taken away, I go to the trusted organization the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty. Sure enough Brent Walker, an attorney and director of the organization, was able to compose a letter to Parker, and miracles of all miracles he got CBF (moderates) and SBC (fundamentalist) to sign, educating Mayor Parker on the First Amendment.

    Mark, have I missed an article on the contents on “HERO”.

  4. Dang,
    I took too long on my comments to be the first to comment. Whatever

  5. “Christians” as in the born again Christians who are the only ones of the faith you frequently recognize as the only true Christians? Or is it all others of the faith who under most circumstances you want nothing to do with?

    Because the people who claim that the US is a Christian Nation and somehow beholden to God as you put it, are really not those who have a vested interest in keeping the nation functioning as it does.

  6. happy days are here again!

    America just went through the non Christian route..

    now happy days are here again !

    even if Israel is a unbelieving nation if we can we still need to protect them from other unbelievers that want to murder all their people.. And President Obama is right if we are able we need to help out Africa.. after all that’s the bright spot of Christianity we don’t want unbelievers hurting those people ..

    we know eventually BEFORE GOD RIGHTS IT AGAIN the love of Jesus will grow cold around the world so lets do what we can while we can .. AND WE CAN ONLY DO ALL THIS WITH A HEALTHY ACONOMY AND STRONG NATION AGAIN .. with Good paying jobs for all of America good health “care” for all AMERICANS and all so religious freedoms for all Americans not just us Christians And we really need to stop threatening and start doing something for those who came in illegally because they really were invited in by knowing the laws were on purpose not enforced BY BOTH Republicans and Dems in office..

  7. Author

    No, and I apologize for leaving that impression. It’s 2-1 Democratic, and I’ve fixed it.

  8. ” Good paying jobs for all of America good health “care” for all AMERICANS and all so religious freedoms for all Americans not just us Christians And we really need to stop threatening and start doing something for those who came in illegally because they really were invited in by knowing the laws were on purpose not enforced BY BOTH Republicans and Dems in office..”

    So you voted Democrat. The Republicans are against all of the above you just mentioned.

  9. Right, because we need kundergarteners to learn his to masturbate or pray in mosques: the latter being carried out by public schools.

  10. True Christians today should make their stand today for God’s kingdom or heavenly government (Daniel 2:44) as the ONLY hope for all mankind instead of man’s governments.

    Neither Jesus, his disciples, apostles nor the first-century Christians got involved in politics nor in worldly conflicts or wars. A major theme of God’s Word, the Bible, is God’s kingdom and it was a major theme of Jesus’ preaching (Matthew 4:17).

    That kingdom will soon put an end to all human governments, as prophecied by Daniel (Daniel 2:44), and rule over mankind on earth in their place and stead.

    It will put an end to all wicked ones (Psalm 37:10,11) and weapons and wars will no longer be implemented or necessary (Micah 4:1-5),

    It will put an end to all sickness, disease, old age and even death (Revelation 21:1-4).

    It will bring back to life on earth those we have lost to death, who are still sleeping in death, (Ecclesiastes 9:5,10) so that they may be reunited with us (John 5:28,29; Acts 24:15).

    Bible prophecies are being fulfilled in our generation that we are living in the “last days” of a wicked era (Matthew 24; Mark 13; Luke 21). This includes preaching the good news of God’s kingdom worldwide before the end comes (Matthew 24:14), which is also being accomplished.

    Therefore, we can be sure that all of these blessings will soon be provided by God’s kingdom with righteousness, love and justice!! (Isaiah 11:1-9).

  11. NO most confessional Lutherans vote right of center .
    we just don’t let any one including republicans or democrats tells us,, what right of center is..

    President Obama is a really smart smart fellow he knew the fastest way to change America to his way of thinking was to spend so much money as to bankrupt it.. That way it would not have the money to do the things he did not like..
    And he was using the vast amounts of money on the less fortunate people..
    I think his heart was in the right place.. yet I don’t agree that we had become so evil and domineering that he had to do it that way..
    And I don’t fault him for being more for black people than white people ..
    every person is prejudice ..a person can be prejudice with out being a racist . I don’t believe president Obama is a racist..
    but im a old white guy what do I know.. funny

  12. Robert Brown, your statement is dishonest and reflects poorly on our nation’s secular founding. And Thomas Jefferson would despise you.

  13. We reap what we sow. This country started and was based on a religious belief. If we read and reread the Book of Esther, we will one day, understand, where and why we fell apart. Until then, let us eat our cake and do as we please!

  14. Joan, I am sorry to say, but God would agree with Robert’s statement and most likely tell you that you are wrong! It is not so much the wisdom of man that you should follow, but that of your Redeemer. Just because Jefferson “coined” the term “separation between church and state” does not give him the ultimate “authority” to spread his disease through the rest of the century. Unfortunately, this is what happened and it opened the door to “liberalism” and woman wanting their freedom and to vote and abortions and well, you know the rest of the story Joan and where it’s gotten us, but I don’t think I need to tell you where we are headed. It’s gonna get pretty hot down there for a lot of people if they continue to think the way you are thinking. Liberalism is a sin. And “NO”, I am not apologizing for standing up for Christ! Thank you very much. I am the 54%….


  16. Religion, just like atheism, has had both a positive and negative influence on politics. The Abolition movement and the Civil Rights movement wouldn’t have succeeded without the involvement of Churches. Pastor Martin Luther King, Jr?
    Gandhi? The Founding Fathers may have been agnostic humanists, (and slave-holders) but the majority of the common folk were Christians. Yale and Harvard were founded as divinity seminaries.

  17. Exactly how is president Obama “more for black people than white people…” And exactly how isn’t that a racist statement? I’ve seen lots of confused “thinking” in my life, but you take the prize.

  18. “Be that as it may, it does look as though there’s been some shift away from the Democrats on the part of those who attend worship irregularly.”

    Could it be that those serious religious folk are leaving Democrats because they are the party of abortion?

    “Perhaps charges of an Obamaite “war on religion” by evangelical and Catholic leaders have gotten through.”

    Or perhaps they are finally listening and understanding that very soon, there will be no room for them in the Democrat party.

  19. Chuck, but you are required to answer. How can an atheist answer?

  20. Jefferson did not make this comment officially. It was in a personal letter to a Baptist congregation. They were afraid another denomination would become the ‘state religion’. Jefferson was reminding them that there would never be an official state religion since government is walled off from doing so.

    Some Liberals lie-spin this to a new and false meaning. It is very much the requirement of pastors to point out moral problems in society, government, and our lives. Catholics have a Vatican approved book called, Liberalism is a Sin. This title and statement is more true today than ever.

    Bottom line is that voting for most of the candidates in Democratic Party is going to held against you at your judgement.

  21. Fran, you’re wrong. Paul in Romans 13 says the institution of human government is ordained of God…..and the implication for Christians is clear:

    Those who find themselves in times and places where leaders are elected have a spiritual duty to exercise their right to vote. Not voting shows disrespect for a key God-ordained institution and thus is disobedience to the God you claim to worship.

  22. The Founding Fathers were not agnostics. Virtually all of them were theists. Their theism ranged broadly from unabashed evangelicalism to Enlightenment deism, with most of them somewhere between the two.

  23. Now that’s a sweeping generalization if ever there was one.

    I think it’s safe to say that atheists Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot and their atheist states made decisions that were about as free and clear of religion as possible.

    Of course, together they were directly responsible for the deaths of well over 100 million people.

    So much for your lazy premise…..

  24. Chaplain Martin, you have an interesting situation in Alabama. Normally my views on the issues are in line with Republicans, but I am told that the GOP establishment in that state needs to get its head handed to it due to its gross corruption which goes back many years.

  25. God extends what theologians call His “common grace” to all human beings, but that doesn’t mean everybody is right with Him.

  26. Joan, you’re being way too simplistic. America is not a Christian nation in one sense, but is a Christian nation in another sense. It is not a Christian nation in the Old Europe sense — meaning we don’t have a state church and don’t seek to impose Christianity on others through law. But it is most definitely a Christian nation in the sense that our institutions emerged from the Biblical doctrines of creation, fall, and redemption and are impossible to explain and defend with any coherence without reference to this legacy. Non-Christians and nominal Christians get to share with Christians in the benefits of this form of government, but there is no way they would have come up with it on their own.

  27. Junia, how is it a racist statement to claim that Obama is more for black people than for white people? It is what it is — a proposition that is either accurate or inaccurate. Either it’s true or it isn’t true, and one’s opinion on the matter tells us precisely nothing about that person’s state of mind or heart. More is needed to come to a conclusion.

  28. Jack, Jack, Jack. You need to get out more if you can’t see the racism in that statement.

  29. Debra, your comment is loaded with a host of common fallacies:
    ad populum, ad hominem, non sequitur, and more. Look them up. You are an embarrassment to the team. And threatening people with hell is not something a loving Jesus would do. Learn from that or you will be the one with your backside getting toasty.

  30. God defenately has his chosen people and we know who we are. It’s not our fault that someone isn’t one of them.

  31. Don’t go there, Jack. It’s a stupid premise. What they did is not found simply in dictates of non-belief and there is plenty of killing done by people following gods. One difference tho is that the god books do actually demand killing.

  32. Don’t presume that some of humanity hasn’t learned since.

  33. Jack, you’re wrong. My bible says the whole universe is governed by God. It is his kingdom and we are merely hosted in it.

  34. We need God. We need more of Him. Many are starving for leaders of good character who are honest and tell the truth. Turning away from God has truly brought this country to a new low. We need God and we need His gift of salvation through Jesus Christ His Son. Receive Him as Lord and Savior and know His peace and forgiveness that He gives to those who receive Him and follow Him as He leads. God Bless

Leave a Comment