Does a candidates' faith matter? Answer hinges largely on race
October 4th, 2012
02:24 PM ET

Does a candidates' faith matter? Answer hinges largely on race

By Dan Merica, CNN

Washington (CNN) – A survey released Thursday shows striking racial and religious divides over the role of religion in presidential politics.

More black and Hispanic millennials – ages 18 to 25 – said that it was important that a presidential candidate hold religious beliefs than white millennials, according to survey by the Public Religion Research Institute and Georgetown University’s Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs.

Nearly 70% of black and 57% of Hispanic millennials indicated that religious beliefs were important, while white young millennials with this belief were in the minority. Only 44% said it was important, while 53% said it wasn’t important.

“There are striking differences along racial lines about the role of faith in the lives of presidential candidates,” Dr. Thomas Banchoff, director of the Berkley Center, said in a release about the poll. “Strong majorities of black and Hispanic younger millennials say it is important for presidential candidates to have strong religious beliefs, while a majority of white younger millennials disagree.”

Overall, there was a near  equal divide among all millennials – with 49% saying religious beliefs among presidential candidates is important and 48% saying the opposite.

The poll also shows that a desire for a candidate with strong religious values benefits Romney, not Obama.

The poll asked millennials whether certain traits – like honesty, trustworthiness and leadership – fit Romney or Obama more. The president did particularly well in all these traits, except for one – “has strong religious beliefs.”

“The majority of millennials said that that trait went to Romney,” said Dan Cox, research director for the polling firm. According to the poll, 54% said that trait best described Romney, while 32% selected Obama.

Even in that question, though, there was a racial divide. Of black young millennials, 69% said “has strong religious beliefs” described Obama, while 22% selected Romney.

Religion has played a small but noticeable role in the current presidential showdown between Obama, a Christian, and Romney, a Mormon. Romney has used religion as a dividing issue with Obama, challenging the president on issues of religious freedom, contraception and the role of religion in American life.

The poll also finds that a group once thought to be politically up for grabs – white evangelical Protestants – are decidedly Republican. “Eight-in-ten (80 percent) white evangelical Protestant younger Millennial voters… favor Romney,” reads the poll.

This statistic bucks both conventional wisdom and the hopes of some Democratic operatives who felt that younger evangelicals would be more likely to support Democrats because of their age. Earlier this year, in a conference call with reporters, faith advisers to the Democratic National Committee indicated that they hoped to make gains in this demographics of voters.

While Romney also has a slim majority in white mainline Protestant young millennials, Obama maintains a lead in younger Catholics, religiously unaffiliated voters and minority Protestant voters.

These demographics may prove important in November’s election because these religious voters – particularly the millennials – are excited to vote. Two-thirds (66%) of these young millennials are registered to vote, according to the survey, and half those registered stating that “are absolutely certain they will vote in 2012.”

“One of the most striking findings of the survey is the impact of parental example on younger millennial voter engagement and voting preferences,” said Robert P. Jones, CEO of Public Religion Research Institute. “Younger millennials whose parents brought them to the voting booth as children are significantly more likely to be registered to vote, and younger millennials who have two parents supporting the same presidential candidate are closely following the vote choices of their parents.”

The poll of 1,214 adults aged 18 to 25 was conducted online between August 28 and September 10. The margin of error for the entire poll is 4.3 percentage points.

- Dan Merica

Filed under: Polls • Race

soundoff (243 Responses)
  1. saggyroy

    Is there any particular reason the religion blog is under the opinion section, as opposed to a section that contains facts?

    October 5, 2012 at 6:19 am |



    October 5, 2012 at 3:40 am |
    • truth be told

      No one needs your vote anyway.

      October 5, 2012 at 5:52 am |
  3. News Flash ! ! !

    Mitt Romney today announced that victory is in sight. It's right over there by Obama, but at least Romney can see it!

    October 5, 2012 at 3:17 am |
  4. Rational Libertarian

    Black Christians are hell-a dumb, more so than their white counterparts.

    October 4, 2012 at 11:48 pm |
    • Stendec

      Stereotyping is not rational. You'd better get rid of that part of your handle.

      October 5, 2012 at 1:35 am |
    • Rational Libertarian

      It's a fact, not a stereotype. A black Christian is equivalent a Jewish Nazi.

      October 5, 2012 at 8:58 am |
    • Rational Libertarian

      There's a to missing in my previous post.

      October 5, 2012 at 8:58 am |
  5. Where is your atheism now?

    You are on a trip with a group of friends to mountians for a few days.You guys get lost,when all of a sudden a bear comes out of nowhere and starts attacking.It attacks you and ends up clawing your leg.You are bleeding out and you are stuck in the middle of nowhere with no cell reception.

    Where is your atheism now?

    October 4, 2012 at 9:13 pm |
    • Fritz the Cat

      Sitting in the forest with a bleeding leg. Are you a total idiot?

      Maybe you should ask yourself why God is so cruel that he sends bears to munch on people, and why they should suddenly say "Oh, a bear attacked me. Maybe I need to dig a foxhole so that I am not an atheist . . . but why was God such a dickhead to do that to me? That doesn't make any sense. No, it was just nature being nature. Still an atheist. "

      October 4, 2012 at 9:19 pm |
    • Where is your atheism now?

      So you can you blame God when you just said its nature being nature? Can't have both.You either believe it was God's fault or it was entirely random and no being is responsible.Can't have it both ways.

      Atheism is such a weak side yet you say the other side is but your not? What a lie!!!

      October 4, 2012 at 9:44 pm |
    • Fritz the Cat

      LOL!!!! Nice reading skills! To anyone of second grade literacy or above, it would have been obvious that I was mocking your insane "atheists in foxholes' schtick, and having done your magical conversion, wondered the obvious "why."

      What, you actually thought I converted for a moment? LOL!!!!!!!!!

      Why does your god send bears and snakes and cancer and plagues to hurt people anyway? I mean, if he does exist, then he is a cruel and despicable bastard totally undeserving of even the slightest worship. I don't worship terrorists like your god.

      October 4, 2012 at 9:52 pm |
    • Where is your atheism now?

      so you think humans are special yet most atheists think humans aren't? Why do you think God sent to bear? That would REQUIRE you to BELIEVE.Yet the picture yet? If atheism is all about science,you deny what has been proven to be natural and yet still somehow manage to blame a god you think is fake and made up?

      Atheism has blinded you by its ignorance while claiming to follow science.Go back to school.Oh wait! Atheists know more than the religious!!!

      October 4, 2012 at 10:04 pm |
    • David Larimer

      That's the "no atheists in foxholes thing", right? Why is it so hard for christians to grasp that atheists aren't struggling to not believe and somehow just can't admit it? You really think that approaching death is going to make for some conversion? Are you so cemented into your dogma that you can't grasp that that you may be wrong and that you have just wasted your life pursuing a fairytale?

      October 4, 2012 at 11:16 pm |
    • nojinx

      In my head. Where else would it be?

      I don't understand the point of that exercise.

      There are no chaplains in foxholes.

      October 5, 2012 at 11:20 am |
    • nojinx

      Who told you most atheists think humans are not special? That sounds like wishful thinking.

      The fact of the matter is that the atheist "community' (weird using that term, it's like calling all non-sports fans a community) is the most diverse of all populations on the planet. They come from every religion, every country, every age and race and profession. They are as hard to pin down as the set of people on the planet that don't like to play chess.

      October 5, 2012 at 11:23 am |
  6. Where is your god now?

    You are at a friend’s house. It is a party with a few friends and a girl you are interested in getting to know better. You have to go to the restroom, which is visible from the kitchen where everyone is gathered. You go in and do number 2. You have diarrhea. It smells bad and there is no air freshener. You reach for the toilet paper and there is none. There is a knock on the door, you recognize her sweet voice.

    Where is your god now?

    October 4, 2012 at 8:55 pm |
    • OoooLaLa

      If the story ends with a blumkin, I might reconsider my belief in a diety . . . though it would be a very naughty diety.

      October 4, 2012 at 9:04 pm |
    • Where is your god now?

      Oh He is very naughty indeed. Consider this, God made us all in his own image. Ok, well I like to take a nice p!ss in the face and stick chop sticks up my pee hole. Thanks God you fuking perv. I never asked for this!

      October 4, 2012 at 10:02 pm |


      October 5, 2012 at 3:42 am |
  7. Where is your god now?

    Your husband takes you to the company Christmas party. You have long been jealous of his very attractive co-worker Genevieve, and your jealous imagination suspects there is a spark between them. You dress to the nines and look great. The moment comes to say hello to her. She is beautiful, charming and smells intoxicating. You break a heal just as you reach to shake her hand. You spill your drink on both Genevieve and your husband. They look at each other and giggle, holding the gaze a bit too long.

    Where is your god now?

    October 4, 2012 at 8:54 pm |
    • OoooLaLa

      I always wanted to be a woman for a while, so I would thank FSM for the Freaky Friday thing, then go look at myself naked.

      October 4, 2012 at 9:06 pm |
    • saggyroy

      If there is a god, the story would end with a menage a trois.

      October 5, 2012 at 6:08 am |
  8. Where is your god now?

    You are at the Museum of Modern Art with a date. You have high hopes for this relationship. She is smart, pretty and a great cook. You just critiqued a group of Kevin Appel paintings when you felt a sudden urge to relieve your bowels. But where is the bathroom? Too late. And it is loose. You drag your smelly self to the elevator; she is behind you but gagging...

    Where is your god now?

    October 4, 2012 at 8:21 pm |
    • OoooLaLa

      Does the Museum of Modern Art have a big problem with uncontrollable explosive diarrhea like that?

      October 4, 2012 at 9:08 pm |
    • saggyroy

      You hang your soiled Dockers on the wall, and you are the hit of the art show.

      October 5, 2012 at 6:16 am |
  9. 1amazed2u

    Romneyhood ...... Give to the Rich take from the poor

    October 4, 2012 at 7:22 pm |
  10. 1amazed2u

    Romney ....... No honesty No integrity

    October 4, 2012 at 7:21 pm |
  11. 1amazed2u

    Romney and Ryan ........ Laurel and Hardy of the 2012 Presidential Campaign

    October 4, 2012 at 7:21 pm |
  12. John Stefanyszyn

    The first way of life (one's true religion) of both President Obama and Mr. Romney is their primary belief in freedom of self-rights, of which President Obama has advanced it into the middle east and to all nations....XES...to serve and magnify oneself rights.
    This way has been placed above Christ and the One and Only True God.

    October 4, 2012 at 6:39 pm |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      Given that your imaginary friends rules can't be used to make any laws or set precedent, the president and president hopeful should be placing 'self-rights' above everything else. How are you so certain you have the right god with so many to choose from?

      October 4, 2012 at 6:54 pm |
    • Dodney Rangerfield

      W- T- F, Foreign ass hole intervention night? No one in your own country to talk to? They all know what a loser you are, don't take it out on US.

      October 4, 2012 at 7:11 pm |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      Dodney: Do the world a favor and go back to your native country of Iran where freedom of speech is suppressed...your ignorance on the importance of our countries to each other and your ignorance as to the fact that this is an international website are astounding. The people of the USA think you're a loser and don't value your opinion.

      October 5, 2012 at 4:38 am |
  13. PeterVN

    As the great blog post said, "Religion is for the ignorant, the gullible, the cowardly, and the stupid, and for those who would profit from them." For politicians, it's for personal profit.

    October 4, 2012 at 6:25 pm |
    • nope


      October 4, 2012 at 6:28 pm |
    • Snopes concurs that...


      October 4, 2012 at 6:55 pm |
  14. Ronald Regonzo

    Someone kicked Obama to the curb last night. Romney over Obama 70 / 30 you heard it here first. O' bama who??? Romney / Ryan 2012

    October 4, 2012 at 6:11 pm |
    • sam

      Who let this troll out? I thought someone was watching the trolls.

      October 4, 2012 at 6:17 pm |
    • Ronald Regonzo

      3 more months and we will take the WHITE House back ! Sinners will be vanquished and righteousness will begin to rule in a new and regenerated America. Romney / Ryan 2012

      October 4, 2012 at 6:26 pm |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      Ronald: Keep drinking the koolaid! These dolts want to suppress the basic rights of women-you agree with this? These dolts want to ensure the poor suffer-you agree with this?

      October 4, 2012 at 6:58 pm |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      And good luck with the vanquishing of all sinners (sin is only a biblical term used by the gullible). They won't easily change the constitution to fit their delusions and do you really think that the 35% of your country who define themselves as non-religious/atheist will see them impose their religions upon them? I guess freedom of and from religion means nothing to you as long as you think you're saving yourself...how very arrogant and ignorant!

      October 4, 2012 at 7:04 pm |
    • Ronald Regonzo

      And which candidate will YOU be voting for? Oh that's right you don't belong here so you and your opinion can take a hike. Leave our politics to our citizens as it is none of your business. Romney / Ryan 2012

      October 4, 2012 at 7:15 pm |
    • sam

      Ronald...see this piece of cheese? I'm going to put it over here in this nice box...which is NOT a cage. It looks like one, but it's not, it's a place to eat delicious cheese. You go on in there and get comfy, and I'll just carefully close this door..

      October 4, 2012 at 7:19 pm |
    • sally

      True Obama wasn't brilliant. But he can relax, cause when they ge to foreign policy, OMG, Rummy pirate is going to stumble and look like the idiot that he is because he doesn't know the first thing about it. He'll be at the mercy of his handlers. LOL. Poor Rummy pirate is going Dooooowwn!!

      October 4, 2012 at 7:20 pm |
    • Ronald Regonzo

      Foreign policy? Lets review ... shoot an American ambassador on our own soil, our own embassy grounds and three other staff to death and Obama does what? Bring em on, can you spell Mitt kicks Obama to the curb 2, just when you thought it was safe to debate. Mitt to Obama I'm your worst nightmare ! I'll be back ! Romney / Ryan 2012

      October 4, 2012 at 7:35 pm |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      oh but Ronald how very wrong you are!!! What affects your country affects my country and thus I will voice my opinion...I know that hurts your poor christard mind to have reality put in your face but you too need to suck it up and learn to deal with it!!

      October 4, 2012 at 7:57 pm |
    • captain america

      @liar prefails
      Horse sh it. Mind your own F'n business You are not needed or wanted in America. There's your sign

      October 4, 2012 at 8:28 pm |
    • captain america

      @liar prefails
      Horse sh it. Mind your own F'n business You are not needed or wanted in America. There's your sign

      October 4, 2012 at 8:28 pm |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      captain ass/dodney: fuck off loser...trying to oppress freedom of speech is childish but expected from someone like you...go ask Mommy for a cookie and get to bed, the short bus arrives early for freaks like you...did the special school not teach you to use manners or that Canada is the USA's largest ally or anything valuable? I guess they don't have time when they're having to take time just to teach you to add 1 and 1 and more time to teach you to tie your shoes.

      October 5, 2012 at 4:44 am |
  15. eurekadog

    Chelopez54: No, "eyes jumping around" is not a sign someone is lying.

    Has POTUS Obama lived up to his own words/promises from the 2008 campaign? (Specifically, the things he can control?) It really bothers me that he has time to go on so many TV shows, yet cannot meet with the leader of our one true Middle-Eastern ally. Especially when that region is so volatile.

    October 4, 2012 at 6:10 pm |
  16. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things

    October 4, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
    • 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!~..

      October 4, 2012 at 6:10 pm |
  17. Reality

    The nitty-gritty of god and christianity in the 21st century:

    Expanding on Einstein's thinking:

    The Apostles' Creed 2011: (updated by yours truly and based on the studies of historians and theologians of the past 200 years)

    Should I believe in a god whose existence cannot be proven
    and said god if he/she/it exists resides in an unproven,
    human-created, spirit state of bliss called heaven??

    I believe there was a 1st century CE, Jewish, simple,
    preacher-man who was conceived by a Jewish carpenter
    named Joseph living in Nazareth and born of a young Jewish
    girl named Mary. (Some say he was a mamzer.)

    Jesus was summarily crucified for being a temple rabble-rouser by
    the Roman troops in Jerusalem serving under Pontius Pilate,

    He was buried in an unmarked grave and still lies
    a-mouldering in the ground somewhere outside of

    Said Jesus' story was embellished and "mythicized" by
    many semi-fiction writers. A descent into Hell, a bodily resurrection
    and ascension stories were promulgated to compete with the
    Caesar myths. Said stories were so popular that they
    grew into a religion known today as Catholicism/Christianity
    and featuring dark-age, daily wine to blood and bread to body rituals
    called the eucharistic sacrifice of the non-atoning Jesus.

    (references used are available upon request)

    October 4, 2012 at 6:00 pm |
    • ....


      October 4, 2012 at 6:03 pm |
    • Theen Allah Fat Mullah (the original hinduism source.....)


      If you want to believe in God, that is your privilege. If you don't want to believe in God, that is your privilege too, but don't act like some kind of authority on subject, when you can't prove anything. There is only a very fine line between free speech and hate speech.

      October 4, 2012 at 6:56 pm |
    • Reality

      More free speech:


      Joe Smith had his Moroni. (As does M. Romney)

      "Latter-day Saints like M. Romney also believe that Michael the Archangel was Adam (the first man) when he was mortal, and Gabriel lived on the earth as Noah."

      Jehovah Witnesses have their Jesus /Michael the archangel, the first angelic being created by God;

      Mohammed had his Gabriel (this "tin-kerbell" got around).

      Jesus and his family had/has Michael, Gabriel, and Satan, the latter being a modern day demon of the demented. (As does BO and his family)

      The Abraham-Moses myths had their Angel of Death and other "no-namers" to do their dirty work or other assorted duties.

      Contemporary biblical and religious scholars have relegated these "pretty wingie/horn-blowing thingies" to the myth pile. We should do the same to include deleting all references to them in our religious operating manuals. Doing this will eliminate the prophet/profit/prophecy status of these founders and put them where they belong as simple humans just like the rest of us.

      October 4, 2012 at 11:27 pm |
    • nojinx

      Spinoza's and Einstein's god is most closely related to the concept of Mother Nature. From Frank Tilly's the History of Philosophy:

      "Spinoza expressly denies personality and consciousness to God; he has neither intelligence, feeling, nor will; he does not act according to purpose, but everything follows necessarily from his nature, according to law."

      October 5, 2012 at 11:59 am |
  18. niknak

    That is a bit confounding as most people who vote repub are also very religious.
    Most minorities vote dem.
    Yet their results had it the opposite way.
    I wonder if the whites they asked had college or higher degrees, and other studies have shown that the higher the education level the less likely one is to believe in fairy tales.
    Get god(s) out of politics NOW.

    October 4, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
  19. Bootyfunk

    in the future, candidates that believe in an imaginary sky-fairy will be viewed as mentally unsound. it's gonna be a glorious future...

    October 4, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
    • niknak

      Man, is wish that I could believe that.
      You just can't get the fundies to ever believe that they might be wrong.
      I bet we could be visited by an advanced alien species and they would show us how it all worked, but if it did not have god in there somewhere, the fundies would still cling onto their stone age fairy tales.
      It seems the more we advance, the more the fundies regress.
      And now they have really powerful guns, instead of pointed sticks and sling shots.

      October 4, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
    • truth be told

      You will never see it. Christ has endured and Christianity continues to flourish world wide. The last glimpse you will get of Christianity will be in that fraction of a second before you enter the lake of fire.

      October 4, 2012 at 6:14 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      Awww how cute. The sociopathic side of truth be told is coming out. What a wonderful demonstration of the "tolerance" and "love" that christianty espouses.

      October 4, 2012 at 6:17 pm |

      GET IN ME

      October 4, 2012 at 6:19 pm |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      tbt: Christ only endures in the gullible and lazy!!

      October 4, 2012 at 7:05 pm |
    • Dodney Rangerfield

      Did you hear the one about the bull sh it Canadian that minded its own F'n business?

      October 4, 2012 at 7:06 pm |
    • Dodney Rangerfield

      You won't the ass hole thinks its opinion is important to someone somewhere. News flash : if your bull sh it was needed people in your own country would listen to you as it is everyone knows you're an ass hole.

      October 4, 2012 at 7:09 pm |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      Dodney Dodney Dodney: Do you ever learn that your opinion is doesn't matter??? This is an international website and as long as it remains that way, we will continue to voice our opinion. Quick loser-who supplied your country with the largest amount of oil last year? I know you don't know, so I'll enlighten your uneducated brain-WE DID! Thus making us an important part of your country...now run back to Iran where the suppress freedom of speech!!!

      October 4, 2012 at 7:43 pm |
    • Dodney Rangerfield

      Canada also represses freedom of speech and freedom of assembly and the right to bear arms you are as useless to US as you are to Canada. Take a hike ass hole.

      October 4, 2012 at 8:32 pm |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      Dodney: Nope you're a complete idiot!!! We don't suppress freedom of speech-if we did you wouldn't see the secularism you do here. You obviously know nothing about the country and its citizens that you hate so much...what a waste of valuable oxygen you are! As for the right to bare arms-who the fuck cares??? In case you haven't noticed that hasn't been doing much good for the people of your country recently...I'd rather live under strict gun control than where any psychotic loser can get a weapon (ie; you).

      October 5, 2012 at 4:53 am |
    • nojinx

      " Christ has endured and Christianity continues to flourish world wide"

      So have hundreds of other gods. That does not mean Christ will last, or that Mohammed will continue to outpace him in growth.

      Shiva has endured for thousands of years more than Christ. Why don't you follow her?

      October 5, 2012 at 11:34 am |
  20. Mormon Magical Underwear

    Step right up folks,step right up! At Romneys next campaign stop he is giving out some free gooddies!! First you will recieve a Free pair of Mormon Magical Underwear that ROmney and other cultists believe have magical powers that protect you from evil,and only the most devout shall never peel them off,not even to shower....Then you will recieve a picture of their Messiah Joesoph Smith the founder of the cult religion,who was a polygamist,conman,murderer and molester.Then you recieve the Book of Mormon which the Mormon cultists worship over the bible and this was the book Joesph Smith himself wrote to help control and brainwash his followers.You will also recieve the location of the planet Kolob in outer space where the cultists believe their god and Joesph Smith live,and when you die you will fly their in your magical underwear to be a god along with Smith on kolob! You will also recieve the sacred teaching on how all dark skinned people are the products of evil......Yes this is what ROmeny believes......He is no christian,he is a cultist weirdo who should be jailed for what his religion has done to women and children brainwashing them and making them robot slaves,also teaching bigotry and hate..........I am a conservative christian Repub and will not support the skidmarked magical underwear cult bishop ROmney!

    October 4, 2012 at 5:18 pm |
    • saggyroy

      I can't wait for the Franklin Mint to sell the replica golden plates.

      October 5, 2012 at 6:23 am |
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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 with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.