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Survey: Religiously unaffiliated, minority Christians propelled Obama’s victory
A quarter of President Barack Obama's supporters were religiously unaffiliated, the Public Religion Research Institute says.
November 15th, 2012
02:24 PM ET

Survey: Religiously unaffiliated, minority Christians propelled Obama’s victory

By Dan Merica, CNN

Washington (CNN) – President Barack Obama’s victory relied largely on two dramatically different religious coalitions minority Christians and those with no religion according to a survey released Thursday.

“This presidential election is the last in which a white Christian strategy will be considered a plausible path to victory,” said Robert P. Jones, CEO of the Public Religion Research Institute, which conducted the survey. “The American religious and ethnic landscape is becoming increasingly diverse, and any campaigns relying on outdated maps are destined to lose their way.”

One-in-four Obama voters were religiously unaffiliated, the second-largest “religious” demographic in the president’s coalition, according to the study (PDF). Minority Christians consisting of black, Asian, Hispanic and mixed-race Americans made up 31% of Obama’s coalition, the largest religious group.

Among major religious demographics, Obama struggled most with white Christians, including Catholics, mainline Protestants and evangelical Protestants. When these three groups were added up, they accounted for just 35% of Obama’s religious coalition. In comparison, Republican challenger Mitt Romney’s coalition was overwhelmingly white and Christian, with 79% of Romney voters identifying as such.

The Public Religion Research Institute numbers flesh out exit polls released after Election Day. According to those numbers, 70% of the religiously unaffiliated supported Obama, compared with 26% who backed Romney. Ninety-five percent of black Protestants voted for Obama, according to the exit polls, while 75% of Hispanic Catholics supported the president.

Romney, according to the exit polls, overwhelmingly won white evangelical Christians (79% voted for him) and white Catholics (59% voted for him).

The rise of the religiously unaffiliated has been a major recent trend. A survey by Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life released this year found that the fastest-growing "religious" group in America is made up of people with no religion at all. According to the survey, 20% of adult Americans have no religious affiliation.

At an event announcing the Pew results, senior research adviser John Green said the growing political power of the unaffiliated within the Democratic Party could become similar to the power the religious right acquired in the GOP in the 1980s.

The 2012 election results have some political experts questioning whether the religious right’s influence is fading.

The Rev. Albert Mohler Jr., president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, tweeted after the election that the results show “we are witnessing a fundamental moral realignment of the country.”

Conservative evangelist Franklin Graham, CEO of Samaritan’s Purse and son of the Rev. Billy Graham, told CNN that while he doesn’t believe the movement is fading, “there is a lot of work we need to do.”

“I just think there are a lot of conservative Christians who did not vote for whatever reason,” Franklin Graham said.

Like Graham, Jones said the legalization of same-sex marriage by ballot initiative in three states last week shows that America is changing.

“For the first time tonight, same-sex marriage has been passed by popular vote in Maine and Maryland,” Jones said last week. “The historic nature of these results are hard to overstate. Given the strong support of younger Americans for same-sex marriage, it is unlikely this issue will reappear as a major national wedge issue.”

The results of the Public Religion Research Institute survey were based on 1,410 telephone interviews in both Spanish and English conducted between November 7 and Sunday. The poll's margin of error is plus or minus 3.3 percentage points.

CNN’s Dan Gilgoff contributed to this report.

- Dan Merica

Filed under: 2012 Election • Barack Obama • Catholic Church • Christianity • Faith • Politics • Same-sex marriage

soundoff (1,305 Responses)
  1. FRANCES LOUISE

    If you have not seen this you need to watch it. Those of you who identify yourselves as Christians and supported Obama. Obama is a product of the progressive movement – which can be summed up as AT WAR WITH GOD! Don't believe me see for yourself if you can not answer who is Frankfurt School is or Mattachine Society or Antonio Gramsci – you need to know! There is knowledge is power:
    http://vimeo.com/52009124?action=share&ref=nf

    November 25, 2012 at 6:20 pm |
  2. ..

    wha?

    November 20, 2012 at 10:39 am |
  3. Who invited me?

    666

    666

    666

    666

    666

    November 20, 2012 at 10:38 am |
  4. Who invited me?

    666

    666

    666

    666

    November 20, 2012 at 10:38 am |
  5. Who invited me?

    666

    666

    666

    November 20, 2012 at 10:37 am |
  6. Who invited me?

    666

    666

    November 20, 2012 at 10:37 am |
  7. Who invited me?

    666

    November 20, 2012 at 10:36 am |
  8. bandomak

    "Franklin Graham, CEO of Samaritan’s Purse and son of the Rev. Billy Graham, told CNN that while he doesn’t believe the movement is fading, “there is a lot of work we need to do.”"

    Meaning, there's a lot more people to brainwash before the next election.

    November 19, 2012 at 10:18 pm |
  9. Who invited me?

    ..............–................................–................
    .........../.......\......................../.......\..............
    ..........(....o..)......................(....o...).............
    ...........\...../...........................\...../..............
    .............–...............................–..................

    November 19, 2012 at 12:18 pm |
  10. REDFIREBALL

    Obambi poo-poo will just watch iran give a nuke to the palestinians. Hamas Hezbollah and Netanyaho will together start WWIII

    Romney would take care of this by being hard on Iran. no such luck with poo-poo.

    November 19, 2012 at 10:50 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Are you on crack?

      November 19, 2012 at 10:53 am |
    • huh?

      It might help if you weren't such an idiot, we are already into WWIII now for about 11 years. What planet do you live on, mars?

      November 19, 2012 at 10:53 am |
    • TeaPatriot

      Tom, you are the one on crack. if judging by your posts all th etime.

      Even a broken clock is right 2 times a day

      This loudmouth may be on to something. Hussein is a weak pro-UN docialist. He wants to cut our military. we didnt win the last world war by pu-ssyfooting around. we had strong presence in europe, asia, atlantic ocean, and pacific theater. He is weak weak weak. Romney was criticizes for being hard on Iran. Nuts. we should show our strength or perish.

      If the pictre painted by mr RED above comes true, then I plan to see mad max and all the other zombie apacaplipse movies to learn how to prepare for the future.

      November 19, 2012 at 11:27 am |
    • TeaPatriot

      socialist not docialist

      November 19, 2012 at 11:28 am |
    • Athy

      And that's the only mistake in your post you're going to correct?

      November 19, 2012 at 11:43 pm |
    • TeaPatriot

      Yeah ya cant trust these muslims. they can do anything. We shouldnt forget that Isreal is our friend and the beacon of democracy in that region.

      November 20, 2012 at 10:31 am |
    • TeaPatriot

      Athy@ what other mistakes (other than minor typoes) do you find?

      November 21, 2012 at 11:49 am |
  11. REDFIREBALL

    Henry Kissinger watches - American economy about to bottom out and Mideast about to explode - is the Media POWERLESS to stop Obama? The Hill has eyes and watches - top Republicans reommend other top Democrats to help bail out the incompetent and dangerous "narcissistic sociopathic" Precious One. Kissinger knows Hillary can never be him -shaking his head in amazement of "New America." Old investigative reporter geniuses poised for action.

    November 19, 2012 at 7:38 am |
  12. Reality

    Only for the eyes of the Immoral/Stupid Majority:-–>>>>>

    BO and Axelrod filled the airways with their pro-choice/abortion for two weeks before the election to ensure the Immoral Majority voted. And it worked yet again.->>>

    From the Guttmacher Insti-tute- August 2011

    "In 2008, 1.21 million abortions were performed, down from 1.31 million in 2000. However, between 2005 and 2008, the long-term decline in abortions stalled. From 1973 through 2008, nearly 50 million legal abortions occurred.[2]"

    i.e. making the number of Immoral Majority members more like 100 million in 2012.

    More from Guttmacher:

    "• Fifty-four percent of women who have abortions had used a contraceptive method (usually the condom or the pill) during the month they became pregnant. Among those women, 76% of pill users and 49% of condom users report having used their method inconsistently, while 13% of pill users and 14% of condom users report correct use.["

    And if half of these aborting "mothers and fathers" have had two abortions, the Immoral Majority would still be a huge voting bloc i.e. ~75 million, enough votes to give any presidential candidate the differential votes needed to win.

    November 19, 2012 at 7:36 am |
    • Reality

      nly for the eyes of Barack Obama:

      What you can do to at least lift part of the Immoral/Stupid Majority leader label?

      You say abortions should be "safe, legal and rare" but say nothing about the basic tenet of proper human conduct i.e. Thou Shalt Not Kill. And where is your sense of indignation that abortions are not rare and that these acts of horror demean the Golden Rule considering that you say you are a Christian.

      And where is your sense of indignation that women who use the Pill do not use it properly resulting in an failure rate of 8.7% as per the Guttmacher Insti-tute statistics. Using these and other Guttmacher Inst-itute data, this failure of women to use the Pill properly results in ~1,000,000 unplanned pregnancies every year. And the annual abortion rate in the USA is?? ~1,000,000 as per the CDC.

      And do males use condoms properly? No, as said failure rate for this birth "control" method is 17.4%!! Again using Guttmacher data, said failure rate results in another ~1,000,000 unplanned pregnancies every year.

      Bottom line: You still have not come to grips with the abortion and STD epidemics and you still remain the leader of the Immoral Majority and will remain so until you become a true Christian and one who respects and protects human life in all its forms and who at least emphasizes the proper use of birth control methods!!!

      For your next address to the nation: "If you are se-xually active, take your Pills ladies, wear your condoms guys and save yourself and the taxpayers a lot of money and grief. A condom costs less than 40 cents."

      November 19, 2012 at 10:47 am |
  13. REDFIREBALL

    Henry Kissinger: "Obama needed to make the mideast his top priority - not southeast asia" Gov. Romney: "America is in 'rapid decline mode - Obama uses his 'small stuff" to solve "big problems' " - But who listens to Kissinger and Romney anymore? Ask Washington Post.

    November 19, 2012 at 7:33 am |
  14. REDFIREBALL

    The Hill has eyes - switching back and forth between Mideast and southeast asia

    November 19, 2012 at 7:10 am |
  15. REDFIREBALL

    The "nacissistic and sociopathic" Precious One will feel lonely on the Hill.

    November 19, 2012 at 7:09 am |
  16. REDFIREBALL

    Obama hates Gov. Romney, and shows disdain for top israeli and arab league lonely eyes turning to the righteous

    November 19, 2012 at 7:07 am |
    • == o ==

      LOL. you are silly.

      November 19, 2012 at 9:06 am |
  17. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    November 19, 2012 at 6:58 am |
    • hal 9001

      I'm sorry, "Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things", but your assertions regarding atheism and prayer are unfounded. Using my Idiomatic Expression Equivalency module (IEE), the expression that best matches the degree to which your assertions may represent truths is: "TOTAL FAIL".

      I see that you repeat these unfounded statements with high frequency. Perhaps the following book can help you:

      I'm Told I Have Dementia: What You Can Do... Who You Can Turn to...

      November 19, 2012 at 9:05 am |
    • bandomak

      Atheism is not healthy?!?! Have you even read the bible or the koran?? There is a great deal of things that are not healthy in those books!

      November 19, 2012 at 10:23 pm |
    • TrollAlert

      "Ronald Regonzo" who degenerates to:
      "Salvatore" degenerates to:
      "Douglas" degenerates to:
      "truth be told" degenerates to:
      "Thinker23" degenerates to:
      "Atheism is not healthy ..." degenerates to:
      "another repentant sinner" degenerates to:
      "Dodney Rangerfield" degenerates to:
      "tina" degenerates to:
      "captain america" degenerates to:
      "Atheist Hunter" degenerates to:
      "Anybody know how to read? " degenerates to:
      "just sayin" degenerates to:
      "ImLook'nUp" degenerates to:
      "Kindness" degenerates to:
      "Chad" degenerates to
      "Bob" degenerates to
      "nope" degenerates to:
      "2357" degenerates to:
      "WOW" degenerates to:
      "fred" degenerates to:
      "!" degenerates to:
      "John 3:16" degenerates to:
      "pervert alert" is the degenerate.

      This troll is not a christian

      November 20, 2012 at 8:41 am |
    • Jesus

      `Prayer does not; you are such a LIAR. You have NO proof it changes anything! A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work and their children died. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs.

      November 20, 2012 at 8:44 am |
  18. REDFIREBALL

    $120 billion deficit posted for October -first month of 2013 Fiscal Year -- no one likes the idea of a record deficit year possible - especially legislative personification of Gov. Romney - Obama thought he could meet with him? Obama will meet a much larger form in ways he cannot avoid like during W.H. Press Conference. the media cannot save its Precious One this time.

    November 19, 2012 at 6:47 am |
  19. REDFIREBALL

    Gov Romney will probably meet with long-time friend Netanyahu in high anticipation of total Obama Failure

    November 19, 2012 at 6:40 am |
  20. REDFIREBALL

    Congress knows about the request for donation letters sent out by Michelle Obama during the storm - no one really likes Obama up on the Hill - no one. "fast and furious" is Congress motto now. Obama will feel it - and so will the media who supported obama.

    November 19, 2012 at 6:37 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Where do you live, Balls? I'll bet it's in some no-count little backwater in fly-over country. The closest you've ever been to DC is the picture of the White House on your calendar.

      You're a nobody sitting on your butt behind your 8-year-old computer. You know as much about Congress, the Obamas, DC, and government as my cat.

      November 19, 2012 at 10:55 am |
    • ElmerGantry

      @Tom Tom,

      You are being too kind. Your cat knows more.

      November 20, 2012 at 12:18 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 with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.