September 11, 2008
Christianity Today's Ted Olsen asks whether six points' worth of evangelicals should be considered a significant pickup for Obama, given the amount of outreach he's lavished on them. I guess it depends on what you mean by significant. In 2004, George W. Bush improved his performance among Jews by that amount and the general sense was that it wasn't much to show for his administration's record of devotion to Israel. On the other hand, swings of that magnitude in large voting blocs like white evangelicals can make a big difference in states like Ohio, Missouri, Minnesota, etc.
I guess the better way to put it is to note, as pastordan does, how far McCain's numbers fall short of Bush's--16 points. In recent elections, white evangelicals have tended to vote Republican 75 percent to 25 percent. Obama appears to have his quarter locked up. McCain has at this point failed to seal the deal with his entire three-quarters. The battle would appear to be for the 15 percent still undecided.
One final point. Just as the Palin "female" appeal appears to be not to Hillary voters but to Independent Walmart moms, so the Obama religious appeal seems to have made the biggest difference with semi-frequent worship attenders. White evangelicals, like Jews, are not a swing group; so peeling off five or six percentage points is, I would say, significant.
(Originally posted at Spiritual Politics)