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November 7th, 2012
08:21 AM ET

Election results raise questions about Christian right's influence

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

Washington (CNN) – For many conservative Christian leaders, it was a nightmare scenario: Barack Obama decisively re-elected. Same-sex marriage adopted by voters in some states. Rigorously anti-abortion candidates defeated in conservative red states.

On multiple levels, Tuesday’s election results raised questions about the Christian right’s agenda on American politics, eight years after the movement helped sweep President George W. Bush into a second term and opened the era of state bans on same-sex marriage.

“For the first time tonight, same-sex marriage has been passed by popular vote in Maine and Maryland,” said Robert P. Jones, a Washington-based pollster who specializes in questions about politics and religion.

“The historic nature of these results are hard to overstate,” Jones said. “Given the strong support of younger Americans for same-sex marriage, it is unlikely this issue will reappear as a major national wedge issue.”

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Some conservative evangelical leaders echoed that line. Albert Mohler, who heads the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, said on Twitter that votes for same-sex marriage suggested that “we are witnessing a fundamental moral realignment of the country.”

A Tuesday ballot measure to legalize same-sex marriage in Washington state is still pending. In Minnesota, voters rejected a Tuesday measure that would have banned same-sex marriage there.

Thirty-eight states have banned same-sex marriage, mostly via constitutional amendments.

Obama’s victory also raised questions about the Christian right's influence in the electorate.

Though evangelical leaders as diverse as the Southern Baptist Convention’s Richard Land and Christian icon Billy Graham voiced support for Mitt Romney (Graham stopped short of an official endorsement), Obama performed better among white evangelicals than he did in 2008 in some states.

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In swing state Ohio, exit polls showed that Obama got 30% support among white evangelicals. While that’s hardly a victory, it’s better than the 27% support Obama got among those voters four years ago.

Before the election, many evangelical leaders predicted that opposition to Obama over his support for abortion rights, his personal endorsement of same-sex marriage and his vision of government as a force for good would trump reservations evangelicals had about Romney’s past social liberalism and his Mormon faith.

“There is no evidence in voting patterns that President Obama's 'evolution' on same-sex marriage cost him anything,” Mohler said in another tweet Tuesday night.

Obama also narrowly won Catholics, even after the U.S. Catholic bishops waged a rigorous campaign against the Obama administration around the issue of religious liberty. The bishops alleged Obama was forcing Catholics to violate their own teachings by making health insurance companies provide free contraception coverage for virtually all employees.

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John Green, a religion and politics expert at the University of Akron, said Obama’s win among Catholics was partly a testament to the growing Latino demographic.

“Maybe Hispanic Catholics were not as moved by religious liberty-type arguments as by immigration and economics,” he said.

Unlike in 2004, when John Kerry a former altar boy lost Catholic voters, the Obama campaign had a robust religious outreach program aimed largely at Catholic and evangelical voters. The effort included videos from Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, a Catholic, talking about their Christian faith.

Obama's success among some religious demographics also illustrated how economic issues, as opposed to culture war concerns, dominated the election cycle.

The defeat Tuesday of two Republican Senate candidates who made national headlines with anti-abortion remarks also raised questions about the Christian right’s power.

In Missouri, U.S. Senate candidate Todd Akin, who in August walked back his remark that "if it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down," lost his bid to unseat Sen. Claire McCaskill, a Democrat.

Akin’s campaign became a national cause for conservative Christian activists after the Republican Party abandoned the candidate and encouraged him to drop out over his abortion remark.

In Indiana, Republican Senate candidate Richard Mourdock lost his race against Democrat Joe Donnelly after saying last month that pregnancies resulting from rape are “something that God intended to happen.”

Conservative Christians did claim some victories Tuesday night, including helping the GOP retain control of the U.S. House of Representatives and helping elect tea party favorite Ted Cruz as a U.S. senator from Texas.

Ralph Reed, the leader of conservative group the Faith & Freedom Coalition, planned a Wednesday morning press conference to release his data about what he called the enduring influence of “values voters.”

“Preliminary evidence is they turned out and they voted heavily for Romney,” Reed said in an e-mail message Tuesday night.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: 2012 Election • Christianity • Politics

soundoff (4,433 Responses)
  1. LouAZ

    Nonsense.

    November 7, 2012 at 12:38 pm |
    • Jesus Christ Your Lord

      sense non

      November 7, 2012 at 12:42 pm |
    • God's Oldest Dreamer

      Nonesense? That's senseless! :-)

      November 7, 2012 at 12:43 pm |
    • Jesus Christ Your Lord

      since nonsense is the senseless can we have two cents?

      November 7, 2012 at 12:44 pm |
    • Reasonably

      In no sense.

      November 7, 2012 at 12:47 pm |
  2. sam stone

    How long is it before Billy Boy Graham reclassifies Mormonism as a cult?

    November 7, 2012 at 12:37 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      The memo went out at 12:01am

      November 7, 2012 at 12:41 pm |
    • Jesus Christ Your Lord

      who care Billy-G is fading fast.

      November 7, 2012 at 12:43 pm |
    • Reasonably

      He only needs a few bucks to swing him back...someone got a fiver?

      November 7, 2012 at 12:48 pm |
  3. So What?

    Except if you are gay or get an abortion, etc.

    November 7, 2012 at 12:37 pm |
  4. Shake

    Ok, listen! Were gonna bring down the lights a little and start that Obama grind...slow groovin'....just like that.

    November 7, 2012 at 12:37 pm |
    • Jesus Christ Your Lord

      I can feeeeel it! Oh yeah right there!

      November 7, 2012 at 12:42 pm |
  5. Jo

    Jesus won last night!!!! His whole message was about standing up to right winged Jews of his time! He would be for Obama!!!!

    November 7, 2012 at 12:37 pm |
  6. God's Oldest Dreamer

    God is good and Godly are the great! Four more years and just can't wait! One for the money and two fer the show, three and then four years in watching the gathering wind to blow blow blow.

    November 7, 2012 at 12:36 pm |
    • (Biden - 2016!)
      November 7, 2012 at 12:37 pm |
    • God's Oldest Dreamer

      Let me look into my crystal balls as to who wins and who falls, Come 2016 is like a paper trail so follow the money and catch that big whale!

      November 7, 2012 at 12:41 pm |
    • Bet

      That's some righteous weed you be smokin'.

      November 7, 2012 at 12:44 pm |
    • My crystal ball shows new Supreme Court appointments by Obama followed by a reversal of "Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission"... good luck
      November 7, 2012 at 12:45 pm |
  7. Ztom

    If the GOP dumped the Christian right, I'd probably vote GOP. And I know a ton of fellow former Republicans who would come back if the GOP dumped the crazies.

    November 7, 2012 at 12:35 pm |
    • Jesus Christ Your Lord

      DUDE! that's a fantastic idea!!!!

      November 7, 2012 at 12:41 pm |
    • gwills24

      There was an article in bloomberg businessweek magazine a few months ago that detailed all of the Mormon's Church's holdings. Eye opening to say the least. People, this is not a religion, this is a corporation.

      November 7, 2012 at 12:41 pm |
    • Jerry Tom

      This is a problem that has plagued the Republicans on and off for decades. They get too extreme, and then lose a lot of elections.

      The share a failing with religion – they end up pushing each other to be more pure ideologically, and end up as something unpalatable to the majority of Americans. Then they won't abandon their radicalized opinions, and they fail.

      I can't believe I am saying this, but I actually miss William F. Buckley. At least the guy was articulate and intelligent.

      November 7, 2012 at 12:47 pm |
    • fred

      I agree. The problem is that the crazies are the ones in control of the GOP.

      November 7, 2012 at 12:49 pm |
    • MCR

      In most of New England fiscal conservatives are fleeing the party they find just plain scary.

      November 7, 2012 at 12:49 pm |
  8. Jesus Christ Your Lord

    Zeus is the one true god! repent you non believers! REPENT TO ZEUS!

    ...I'm just trying to save your magical soul from going to hell.

    November 7, 2012 at 12:35 pm |
    • Ztom

      No. FSM. All hail his noodly appendages.

      RAmen

      November 7, 2012 at 12:36 pm |
    • Jesus Christ Your Lord

      FSM is cool too!

      November 7, 2012 at 12:40 pm |
    • sam stone

      My god has a hammer. Your god was nailed to a cross. Any questions?

      November 7, 2012 at 1:15 pm |
  9. Rob Jones

    Forget about the Christian Right's influence. Basic morality and Judeo-Christian values have lost influence. The culture has accelerated greatly in the last 15-20 years. We are not on a good path with all of this I fear. I say that as someone who is not particularly religious.

    November 7, 2012 at 12:35 pm |
    • Jesus Christ Your Lord

      People have been saying that for thousands of years! People say that has they age and their own culture changes before their own eyes. We get lost in the fact that we grow old in many ways including habits, styles, thinking, ideas etc.

      It's all part of life. Grow old and be happy is a better value.

      November 7, 2012 at 12:37 pm |
    • ChrisVC

      Yeah, whatever. People were whining the same mess in 1012 BC and 1012 AD too.

      November 7, 2012 at 12:46 pm |
    • Dave Harris

      A large percentage of Christians (about 50% today) have always believed that they were living in the end times, the Jesus was about to show up and end the world. They've always been wrong. What're the odds?

      November 7, 2012 at 12:47 pm |
    • TheSchmaltz

      "Basic morality and Judeo-Christian values have lost influence."

      That's because we're realizing how little those 2 things have to do with each other.

      November 7, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
  10. LouAZ

    The religious right is neither.

    November 7, 2012 at 12:33 pm |
  11. shalin327

    Rather than slam Christ's teachings, how about re-reading the New Testament and experiencing it in a spiritual light? We all could use some more Peace, Love, Joy, and Forgiveness these days :)

    Jesus was quite the reformer and not afraid to go against the grain for the sake of what really mattered to him...

    November 7, 2012 at 12:33 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Matthew

      10:34 Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.
      10:35 For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.
      10:36 And a man's foes shall be they of his own household.

      November 7, 2012 at 12:38 pm |
    • swing state voter

      Yes! Jesus was quite the liberal for his time.

      November 7, 2012 at 12:38 pm |
    • Ztom

      I agree. But see the "Blue State Jesus vs. Red State Jesus" article here. It's very true. Different Christians choose to accentuate or ignore different teachings of Christ.

      November 7, 2012 at 12:39 pm |
    • Smarter than U

      The bible may be about peace love joy and forgiveness but the Christian people are not on that page. Their bible only has two pages. Page one Abortion. Page two gay marriage. End of book.

      November 7, 2012 at 12:40 pm |
    • Bet

      How about not shoving your Jesus and your bible down everyone's throats?

      November 7, 2012 at 12:46 pm |
    • Dave Harris

      I hear that Republicans are working on a new Republican Jesus more to their liking. He despises the poor and tells them to 'just get a job!'

      November 7, 2012 at 12:50 pm |
  12. Pam

    Basing your political philosophy on your religious beliefs is one thing....trying to shove them down the throats of Americans is entirely something else!

    November 7, 2012 at 12:33 pm |
    • Hayden71

      You mean as the secularists are doing?

      November 7, 2012 at 12:34 pm |
    • Bet

      @Hayden

      No one is shoving secularism down your throat. According to the law of the land, you are free to practice your religion without interference. I am free to not practice your religion as well, under the same law. So stfu.

      November 7, 2012 at 12:51 pm |
    • Dave Harris

      You misunderstand. We 'secularists' are not trying to pry you away from your god. Not only would that be futile, we don't care enough about you to try. No, we're just laughing at you.

      November 7, 2012 at 12:54 pm |
  13. Atheist Hunter

    Apple Bush......."Morning GOD. Well I did vote, and I voted for Obama. It was a good night." Well Ms. Apple Bush, just keep reminding yourself, I voted for Obama, I voted for Obama, I voted for Obama, and when you're digging the the garbage for a morsel of bread in a year or so, keep saying, I voted for Obama and stop your whining. You're one of the reasons that babies are dying, the Israel is under attack, that qu eers are parading nude, and that the economy has crashed and you have no job and no home and no food. Maybe you can relate since then it will be all about poor you!

    November 7, 2012 at 12:31 pm |
    • Reasonably

      Well, it sure isn't all about hatred and bigotry like you want. But I'm sure Iran would take you in a New York minute.

      November 7, 2012 at 12:33 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Atheist Hunter,

      Either your god does not exist.....he doesn't agree with what you think he does....or he is impotent...

      (hint, it is the first option)

      November 7, 2012 at 12:34 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      @Atheist Hunter

      Ramble on you big silly. I am nude right now and I am DE-lighted! Obama won and it is a glorious day. I can see a rainbow!

      November 7, 2012 at 12:35 pm |
    • Jesus Christ Your Lord

      I have a great job! it got better in the last 4 years. The economy is turning from that Bush junk. It's a great time to be Western!

      November 7, 2012 at 12:39 pm |
    • Atheist Hunter

      Apple Bush........Yeah, Noah saw a rainbow too after the evil people were destroyed. Qu eers are dumb to parade in the rainbow that followed the death of all their kind in the Bible. I'm sure Satan finds that hilarious that they wear the sign of their sure destruction. How stupid!

      November 7, 2012 at 12:39 pm |
    • julie

      I have a message for Atheist Hunter from Barbara Walters: "You're making a fool of yourself."

      November 7, 2012 at 12:40 pm |
    • brian

      que ers are parading nude? Is there a new cable channel for that? Can someone please post.

      November 7, 2012 at 12:42 pm |
    • Ztom

      Sounds like you believe that people only get jobs directly from the president. Doesn't matter if Obama or Romney or anyone else had won. You still have to get your derriere off the couch and make your own fortune.

      All the people on the left and right blaming the president are sheep. The ones that think for themselves and make their own opportunity and think for themselves will be the ones hiring those sheep to flip the burgers and trim our hedges.

      November 7, 2012 at 12:42 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      Atheist Hunter cracks me up. :)

      November 7, 2012 at 12:43 pm |
    • swing state voter

      I'm not worried – Romney and Ryan's fiscal plan would have been a financial disaster. Besides values, I also voted for Obama for fiscal reasons.
      p.s. FWIW, I am not one of the 47%, I pay a lot of taxes.

      November 7, 2012 at 12:44 pm |
    • So What?

      Well considering that Obama was not supposed to win, I think we are now on a positive Timeline. Romney would have accelerated NWO plans to destroy all but about 500 million people.

      November 7, 2012 at 12:46 pm |
    • MCR

      "Qu eers are parading nude"! Oh my god I haven't laughed that hard in a while

      November 7, 2012 at 12:52 pm |
  14. Sly

    Folks, before you question God, just realize there are millions of gorgeous virgin teenage chicks in Heaven, who unfortunately met their Maker before enjoying the fruits of our bodies.

    There is no TV there, no American Idol, no Laws.

    Just a whole lot of time to enjoy a whole lotta loving with beautiful 17 year old virgin chicks with bodies from Heaven.

    I say, let's put aside all of our differences, and start a little Fantasy Pool up there and see who is the first one to eclipse Wilt the Stilts '10,000' record.

    I'm betting I can break that record within a few weeks. Go God! Go Heaven! Let's get it on!

    November 7, 2012 at 12:31 pm |
    • Wait, what?

      Guess no laws means no age of consent, huh perv?

      November 7, 2012 at 12:51 pm |
    • Bet

      I'm betting the chicks in "heaven" won't have se_x with you either.

      November 7, 2012 at 12:54 pm |
    • Sly

      Dudes, that is so selfish of y'all.

      No one Ages in Heaven ... so those poor little 17 year old cuties will NEVER get to get it on with anyone.

      Ever.

      Wow ... that is mean of you.

      And yes, they will come to Daddy.

      November 7, 2012 at 1:30 pm |
    • Bet

      You can't get a woman now, and you never will. You'll be stuck in your coffin with your hand on your johnson.

      November 7, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
  15. Dave Harris

    There certainly are some bizarre things on this blog. Makes you wonder if any religious belief can be considered mainstream. Yet whatever particular set of notions the blogger subscribes to, he/she claims this is self-evidently true and just can't understand why everybody else doesn't see that. They also imagine that they're part of some larger Christian organization, even though they hate more than a few of their fellow Christians and expect their God to send them to hell. They've been listening for weeks to their preachers threatening them with eternal damnation if they don't vote for Republicans, and evidently quite a few of them decided to risk hellfire. What kind of people are we, anyway?

    November 7, 2012 at 12:30 pm |
    • Hayden71

      The insanity and hateful remarks seem to have been coming from both sides

      November 7, 2012 at 12:33 pm |
  16. Meatwad

    I can really feel the love on this blog today ya'll. I wish I could snuggle with every one if you nice people.

    November 7, 2012 at 12:30 pm |
  17. JustWho

    The so-called 'christian' right is full of themselves.

    November 7, 2012 at 12:29 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      To repeat the words of Rufus T. Firefly, posted earlier in this thread:

      The Christian right is neither."

      The Christian right aka
      The Religious right aka
      The American Taliban aka
      The Christian Reich

      is this the end of the Karl Rove hegemony?

      The votes of the religious right are like a hot babe for the GOP.

      Nixon started dating the religious right

      Reagan went steady with them

      Karl Rove presided over the marriage between the religious right and George W. Bush

      Just like a self-obsessed hot babe, as soon as 'she got the ring' the religious right started making demands and now the American Taliban wears the pants in the GOP

      Look where it has got them now!

      I wonder if the GOP will be smart enough to get a divorce?

      November 7, 2012 at 12:39 pm |
  18. Reasonably

    Christian Reich – this is your god's will. Get over it. Or don't believe. Either way...ST FU

    November 7, 2012 at 12:29 pm |
    • Atheist Hunter

      Yes it is God's will. He will's that you taste life without him. Just the way you want it. Just the way NY is tasting it now. Unfortunately it will rain on the just and the unjust, but we have a future either way.

      November 7, 2012 at 12:36 pm |
    • truth be told

      Poor leadership is Gods curse on a nation. Most of the Christian right didn't vote. The choice between an advocate for infanticide and abomination or an anti – Christ cultist left no real choice.

      November 7, 2012 at 12:36 pm |
    • sam stone

      AH and tbt: Your god is a vindictive, petty pr!ck

      November 7, 2012 at 12:39 pm |
    • Bet

      @ AT and TBT

      It must really sting that most people see a storm, even a devastating one, as a natural event and not proof of your god's "righteousness". That's what happens when people start thinking for themselves and stop believing the lies and threats of old, rich, white men who want to stay wealthy and powerful.

      November 7, 2012 at 1:02 pm |
  19. via2

    For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

    November 7, 2012 at 12:29 pm |
    • Reasonably

      Jesus was a collectivist and a socialist. Enjoy!

      November 7, 2012 at 12:29 pm |
    • sam stone

      jesus had a bad weekend for your sins

      November 7, 2012 at 12:45 pm |
    • krussell

      God created the universe, he made the rules.
      No point in complaining since he set it all up. He could have avoided killing his only son if he had changed things at the start. why do people like you wnat to make us feel guilty?
      Control maybe?

      November 7, 2012 at 12:51 pm |
    • Bet

      You mean the three-guys-in-one zombified hippie on a stick?

      November 7, 2012 at 12:58 pm |
  20. curtmanda

    Christian right has no business in politics. Seperate the church and state IMMEDIATLY.

    Oh and by the way, um, Mormons? HAHAHHAHAHHA

    November 7, 2012 at 12:28 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.