October 2, 2008
Poll: Young evangelicals less enthusiastic about McCain
WASHINGTON - Parents may know best, but when it comes to this year's election, fewer young evangelical voters are taking Mom's and Dad's advice into the voting booth, according to a new survey.
While Sen. John McCain maintains a winning margin among white evangelical Christians of all ages, young white evangelical voters are less supportive of McCain than evangelical voters over the age of 30, according to the poll conducted for the PBS program "Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly" by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research Inc.
McCain has the support of 71 percent of white evangelicals, but only 62 percent of white evangelicals between the ages of 18 and 29.
"Evangelical voters have been so solidly Republican in the last 20 years, so if this signals a shift, it could have wide-ranging political implications," said Kim Lawton, the managing editor of "Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly."
Some differences on social issues also were highlighted in the survey. A majority of younger white evangelicals support some form of legal recognition for civil unions or marriage for same-sex couples. Older evangelicals are strongly opposed.
Both age groups remain solidly opposed to abortion.
"There's been so much discussion about evangelical voters but there's been very little research," said Lawton. "This is the first to confirm there are some generational differences."
Jeff Fralick, a student at Baylor University, the world's largest Baptist university, may be even more confirmation of a shift.
"I believe that Barack Obama is the best choice for president," Fralick said. "For my parents, however, it is a different story."
Fralick has been actively involved in campaigning for the Democratic nominee on the Christian campus in Waco, Texas.
"In the past I feel that they (older evangelicals) have been swayed by the thought that a responsible and religious person voted one way, conservative," Fralick said of his parents. "They may not agree with it, but they can accept that I am following a good path, though it is different than theirs."
The nationwide survey included 1,400 adults, including 400 young evangelical Christians, and was conducted Sept. 4-21. The margin of error ranged from plus or minus 3.1 percentage points for the overall survey to plus or minus 5.5 percentage points for younger evangelicals.