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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. joe

    Time for churches to go back to preaching about God and leaving politics alone. Tired of having other peoples ideas or religious belifes fosterd on the the rest of us. Believe what you want but leave us alone. You are not God and I dont think you speak for him. Time to move forward and work togeather .

    November 8, 2012 at 11:18 am |
    • JoePub

      You have it backwards. It is time for Politicians to stop talking about religion.

      November 8, 2012 at 12:00 pm |
    • Huebert

      @JoePub

      I'd say both are needed.

      November 8, 2012 at 12:01 pm |
  2. SoldierOfConscience

    Cannot believe President Hussein won a second term

    November 8, 2012 at 11:11 am |
    • sick of christian phonies

      "President Hussein"? What are you, in 4th grade? Well, you better wake up and smell the coffee, you intolerant bigot.

      November 8, 2012 at 11:17 am |
    • JoePub

      Intolerant bigot? How so?

      November 8, 2012 at 11:25 am |
    • Jackson

      A majority of Americans do not share your bigotry.

      Sucks to be you today.

      (although, from the nature of your post, it sounds like it sucks to be you pretty much every day)

      November 8, 2012 at 11:27 am |
    • ME II

      No more surprising than Presidents Walker, Gamaliel , Delano, etc.

      November 8, 2012 at 11:29 am |
    • rdeleys

      I know! It's fantastic news! I could hardly believe it either!

      November 8, 2012 at 11:36 am |
    • JoePub

      Bigot: a person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially : one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance.

      Calling someone by their middle name is NOT an example of bigotry.

      November 8, 2012 at 11:49 am |
    • SoldierOfConscience

      Thanks, Joe

      November 8, 2012 at 12:17 pm |
  3. sick of christian phonies

    Obama won a majority of the catholic voters, showing that most of them are smart enough to ignore (as they usually do) the pontificating of their "leaders" when they know they're pushing horse s**t. They are more educated than the evangelicals and the southern baptists,.

    November 8, 2012 at 11:07 am |
    • JoePub

      Now, believe it or not THAT is a good example of bigotry. Now you are learning. :-)

      November 8, 2012 at 11:50 am |
    • SoldierOfConscience

      My friend Joe, its only bigotry when you criticize religion.. dont forget that. Otherwise its enlightened people using their brain.

      November 8, 2012 at 12:27 pm |
  4. Ogeds

    Asa Christian, and a thinking Bible believer, I am appalled by those that purport to know God,s will more that others and do s for their self gains. I am concerned that their works does not tally with their deeds and they coral/shepherd others in everyday not n line with Christ leadership.

    November 8, 2012 at 11:04 am |
    • sick of christian phonies

      As a thinking bible believer, I'm sorry to say you're in the minority, even if your comments are totally true . Your intolerant "brethren in Christ" far outnumber you, sad to say.

      November 8, 2012 at 11:19 am |
    • JoePub

      sick of christian phonies. You catch on quick. Now you are showing fine examples of bigotry. For example, your use of: "I'm sorry to say you're in the minority, even if your comments are totally true . Your intolerant "brethren in Christ" far outnumber you, sad to say". is an great example of making a blanketed statement of a group of people. That is a bigoted comment. Good Job. :-)

      November 8, 2012 at 11:54 am |
  5. TYRANNASAUR

    Election results raise questions about Christian right's influence.......The EVANGELICALS took over the Republican party when Reagen was president and they have been dictating the agenda ever since.....I hope they keep dictating because I want to see the stupid backward republicans become extinct. Conservative are call that because they CONSERVE...which means they're always behind the curve and don't move forward unless forced...therefore they make awful leaders....it's NOT PRODUCTIVE TO LEAD FROM BEHIND THE CURVE....your solutions will always be late since the problem has past.

    November 8, 2012 at 11:02 am |
  6. MrDLoomis

    What the election proves is that slowly but surely people are dispensing with the bronze age foolishness of belief in an imaginary sky-buddy, talking donkeys and snakes, unicorns, and telepathic communication with imaginary beings.

    Finally people are waking up from the centuries of indoctrination and mind control and using the free though that they were born with and casting their ballot based on evidence and not on conjecture.

    Bravo America!

    November 8, 2012 at 10:59 am |
    • TYRANNASAUR

      Great....I totally agree...the Evangelicals have to go.............to HELL....they've earned it.

      November 8, 2012 at 11:04 am |
    • Mike

      So... by voting for a Christian, we proved we're all Atheists? Excellent logic, sir!

      November 8, 2012 at 11:15 am |
  7. Ken in MO

    Ralph Reed is a criminal and has no values. I am shocked the Conservative Christians even allow him in the same room with them. I dont agree with much of what "Conservative" Christians believe...I am a moderate Christian...but I do respect their views. I focus more on the "good" things that the bible preaches and helping others, etc. Conservative Christians have to stop focusing on the things that divide us and focus on the "main" Christian values...they are severly hurting our faith and making people run from Christ. It is not their intention of course but it is the result.

    November 8, 2012 at 10:59 am |
    • TYRANNASAUR

      Ralphy baby...that aging baby faced distorting manipulator of truth should go extinct..... soon I hope.

      November 8, 2012 at 11:07 am |
    • mikithinks

      People are getting turned off by those "Chrisians" who thump their chests and give satched of old testament quotes. Somehow ignoring, "By thy deeds they shall know thee". There have been too many "holy" wars and too many unholy clerics. A conservative said today that the problem was that the Republicans did not make abortion the center of their campaign and, therefore, lost their base. That could not be the problem here in Floridia, since an amendment prohibiting government funding for abortions passed. The separation of church and state keeps your values and mine separate as well.

      November 8, 2012 at 1:04 pm |
    • Hiram

      Fundamentalist/Evangelical "Christians" are as much a danger to real Christianity and the American way of life as the Taliban/al Qaida are to Islam and the Middle East. Both ignore the Teachings of their respective Faiths, in order to lure the unwary into lining their Coffers, and to promote hatred, bigotry, and narrow-minded goose-stepping to their charismatic Leaders calls.

      November 8, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
  8. Oneslydragon

    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.

    That is because a lot of us catholics believe in the preaching of Christ, helping the less fortunate. Something the other 'so called' chistians that self annoint themselves as the messagers of God seem to have forgotten.

    They also forget a primary basis for the founding of this country, seperation of church and state. They try to hard to make their religion my religion and are attempting to do so via the state.

    Sorry guys...

    November 8, 2012 at 10:58 am |
    • dt

      Religion has been used to control the masses for centuries. Time to end this. The only way to keep religious groups in their churches (where they belong) is to immediately end the tax benefits of being a religious organization. No more free rides on hocus pocus. If you want to influence elections then you must pay taxes and register as a political action group.

      November 8, 2012 at 11:04 am |
    • JoePub

      You stated – That is because a lot of us catholics believe in the preaching of Christ, helping the less fortunate. Something the other 'so called' chistians that self annoint themselves as the messagers of God seem to have forgotten.

      Not true. In fact, statistics show the Conservatives donate more to charity then Liberals. Don't take my word for it, look it up for yourself. :-)

      November 8, 2012 at 11:58 am |
    • JoePub

      So you want churches to stop with their programs that house and feed people and pay taxes. That's very mean of you to put people in the street. :-(

      November 8, 2012 at 12:03 pm |
  9. gus308

    Religion was invented to gain power and to controll people thru fear.
    really glad to see that less people are affraid these days

    November 8, 2012 at 10:56 am |
  10. Tanker

    I'd been a Republican my entire life. I've watched the Religious right and their social agenda, intolerance, and inflexibility drag the party to the right and then to the fringe.

    On Tuesday, I voted for Pres. Obama, just as I voted for him in 2008.

    I voted for him because my loyalty to the nation is more important than my loyalty to any party.

    Time to either take the Repubican Party back, or start a Third Party.

    November 8, 2012 at 10:55 am |
    • MarkinFL

      The new party is the moderate independents. Whichever party is more centrist will get their votes. I've been a slightly left of center independent for 30 years and that used to mean something.... Currently I may as well be a Democrat. I only voted for two Republicans yesterday. One is our county Sheriff and the other is our county elections person. Both are good people looking out for everyone. I will no longer vote for any Republican at the state or National level until they stop voting as a block while pandering to the extreme far right.

      November 8, 2012 at 11:01 am |
    • Jackson

      I have been saying for at least 6 years now that I am surprised we have not seen a "Centerist Party" in America. I think all moderates need to kick the lunatic fringe on both sides of the aisle to the curb, where they belong.

      Moderates in both parties need to come together and solve these problems now!

      November 8, 2012 at 11:30 am |
  11. Jim

    Every dog has it's day and America is on it's way out. We can look to history and see that failure has happened to the greatest nations on earth. We are now a nation of misfits & mongrels, the fringe of a Godless society that will pay for our immoral deeds. Our leadership corrupt & blinded by power and greed. You need not resist CHANGE as it's all by design. Freedom is not free but given away by those who truly do not understand that this is our greatest assett. Until we unite under the one true God we will be lost without purpose or direction. Obama will only serve to devide our country even more.

    November 8, 2012 at 10:53 am |
    • Tanker

      Babble Babble Babble, Babble Babble...

      November 8, 2012 at 10:57 am |
    • MrDLoomis

      Just as statements like yours serve to divide and serves no useful purpose.

      November 8, 2012 at 11:02 am |
    • MarkinFL

      The dog that has seen its day is the Neo-con movement. Goodbye to the far-right controlling the Repubs. Its either that or goodbye to significant Republican representation in the Senate and White House.

      November 8, 2012 at 11:04 am |
    • myweightinwords

      America has ALWAYS been a nation of misfits and mongrels. That is our heritage.

      It has nothing to do with religion....or rather it has to do with the fact that we are all religions and no religion, that we are guaranteed that the government can never define our faith for us.

      November 8, 2012 at 11:11 am |
    • Scott

      Yeah, just like those godless Dutch, Swedes, Norwegians, etc. That's really working out poorly for them....

      November 8, 2012 at 11:28 am |
    • Jackson

      No, posts like *yours* will continue to divide the country.

      It's always funny when Conservatives are in charge and start their "America, love it or leave it" nonsense. Then, when they aren't in charge, suddenly they are concerned about how divided the country is.

      You got what you deserved. Grow, or die.

      November 8, 2012 at 11:36 am |
    • Hiram

      Pathetic moron. Another Fundy who's drunk the Kool-Aid, apparently.

      November 8, 2012 at 1:19 pm |
  12. Oneslydragon

    Now, if we can just convert Christie from the Dark side of the force where he is ruled by bigotry and negative prejudices. He would be a great candidate for the next presidential elections in 2016 as a democrat.

    November 8, 2012 at 10:51 am |
  13. Dyslexic doG

    enjoy it while it lasts Christians. Another 10 generations and the human race will look on your God and Jesus the same way as we look on Zeus and Thor and Ra (and santa claus and the tooth fairy) today. What a giggle!

    November 8, 2012 at 10:44 am |
  14. Dyslexic doG

    November 8, 2012 at 10:42 am |
    • adam

      Did you know that the Palestinians are one of the first 12 tribes.

      November 8, 2012 at 10:45 am |
    • Simran

      Thanks, real interesting video!

      November 8, 2012 at 11:39 am |
  15. phil

    When Mitch McConnell said four years ago that his prime function was to make sure that Obama was a one term president, he went all in on yesterday not happening. Well, it happened. And we lost four years to a horrible economy. The GOP obstructed and tanked the economy to win an election. And still lost. Boehner and McConnell need to compromise today. Or face arrest and trial for treason.

    November 8, 2012 at 10:40 am |
    • adam

      Arrest and trial for treason would be more of a fair game.

      November 8, 2012 at 10:42 am |
  16. Flip Flops

    are bad for the feet and really bad for Romney. The christian right held their noses and voted for Romney in the bible belt states and will probably do the same for whomever the GOP digs up to run in 2016. Romney biggest draw back was that you could not take his word for what he said, too mant flip flops. The less influence people like Akin, Walsh, Mourdock and the Tea Party have on the GOP the better for the party but don't go away the Dems need you.

    November 8, 2012 at 10:38 am |
  17. Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

    All those who voted for Romney must be cast rated. We dont need cretins in the next generation. Ditto those who go to church. Or have quote faith unquote.

    November 8, 2012 at 10:29 am |
    • myweightinwords

      Many people have faith, but do not use it as a weapon. Many of those people are also intelligent, well educated people.

      Faith is a part of being human. Where we put that faith is an individual application of belief, knowledge and life experience.

      Faith itself is not the enemy. Lack of education and weaponized religion is.

      November 8, 2012 at 10:32 am |
    • Nii

      When Tom Tom rails against "religion" while promoting her own Atheism it reminds me of Jehovah Witnesses. lol

      November 8, 2012 at 11:09 am |
  18. gclaheh11

    I have a different view on this than most of the people posting. I think in the next election cycle-it will swing more to the right. Obama got reelected but not by a huge lead. Most people in this country are neither far right or far left. Didn't people say the same thing when Clinton got reelected that the right was dead or something? Yet, the Republicans had control of both houses for awhile. We only have a Democratic Senate now with Obama. Even if the 'religious right' is dead, won't there be some other group to take their place?

    What I would love to see happen is bipartisimship. The right and left working together to make this country better, cutting the deficit, securing our borders, and not getting involved in anymore unnecessary international conflicts. Let's figure out ways to make our country better.

    November 8, 2012 at 10:24 am |
    • Kev

      I agree with you there.

      November 8, 2012 at 10:40 am |
    • MarkinFL

      Our country as a whole is heading toward the center. That is why giving the far right so much control of the Republican party is only going to be a bigger problem over time. BOTH parties should learn a lesson here. The Dems barely won by being more palatable to the middle. The Repubs could take it back from them by shedding some of the more extreme positions they have taken on in order to build their base,
      We are getting tired of the battle between extremists and will reward moderation with votes. So far the Dems are more moderate thus they will continue to win until the Republicans can come to terms with that.

      November 8, 2012 at 10:55 am |
  19. Christianity is a form of mental illness- FACT

    If you want to see pure ignorance and stupidity, click on the religious channels. The religious right celebrate ignorance on Sundays. It is truly amazing at the how dumbdowned the sheep are.

    November 8, 2012 at 10:17 am |
    • Flip

      That is some of the best comedy on TV! I love to watch these charlatans and their act. They say things like-Jeeeeeeesus! and Gwaaaaad! Also Jack Van Impe is absolutely hilarious.He tries to get that ugly woman upset and worried by telling her a bunch of BS and in turn she begs for money to help solve the latest bombshell he lays on her. Priceless!

      November 8, 2012 at 10:30 am |
    • Dyslexic doG

      Amen!

      November 8, 2012 at 10:41 am |
  20. LordEarlGray

    One can only hope.

    November 8, 2012 at 10:13 am |
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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.