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 (4,434 Responses)
  1. sean

    Ben – what is a fundie?

    November 7, 2012 at 12:59 pm |
    • Ben


      November 7, 2012 at 1:02 pm |
    • Primewonk

      Fundie = Fundamentalist – one who demands a strict literalist interpretation of their holy book. One who insists that they have the one true god to the exclusion of other versions of the same god.

      Fundiot = Fundamentalist idiot, see also tea bagger and nutter.

      November 7, 2012 at 1:04 pm |
    • Dave Harris

      Fundamentalist: One who believes in the absolute, literal truth of a text imagined to have been written by the God of the believer, although he/she has never actually read it because it's boring as hell.

      November 7, 2012 at 1:09 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      Fundamentalist. From the root "fun" as in "fun house" "looney bin"

      funda*mental, as in insane, "mentally insane"

      November 7, 2012 at 1:18 pm |
  2. Sandy

    Slowly but surely, America is being pulled forward into a better future, away from its sorry recent past that was dominated by the crazy Christian supersti-tions, and particularly, by the Christian Taliban extremists.

    November 7, 2012 at 12:58 pm |
  3. Apple Bush

    Atheist Hunter, come join the fun! Now that the president is.....well he is still the president, we can do anything we want!

    Even now the Gays and Lesbians are running about in the streets naked. I plan to throw some babies into a volcano over the Christmas break (you are welcome to join). And Satan is going to be the grand marshal of our home coming parade.

    FINALLY, we can live the way we want around here! Don't be shy Atheist Hunter; there is room on this band wagon for you. Get buck nekked and commence the slaughter!!

    November 7, 2012 at 12:58 pm |
    • Dave Harris

      Finally, I can wear those Satan horns I got last Christmas.

      November 7, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
    • Prince of the Forest

      Apple Bush,

      Thank you for correctly using the term "buck naked"! If I see "butt naked" one more time I shall scream (and I most certainly will see it, so listen for the howls).

      November 7, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
  4. Jesus Christ Your Lord

    Atheist Hunter is a scary dude!

    So mean spirited, and a little bratty.

    November 7, 2012 at 12:57 pm |
    • Andy

      Not to mention that AH is obviously out of touch with reality.

      November 7, 2012 at 12:59 pm |
    • Bet

      Come on now, it's not nice to make fun of the mentally disturbed.

      Oh, screw it. He's an idiot.

      November 7, 2012 at 1:19 pm |
  5. gladiatorgrl

    everyone over at Fox and Limbaugh are thrilled they got 4 more years to tell the dying breed of haters in this country what they want to hear and laugh all the way to the bank...

    November 7, 2012 at 12:56 pm |
    • Bet

      They're ecstatic! They've got another four years to preach to rich old white people about how persecuted they are.

      November 7, 2012 at 1:22 pm |
  6. I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

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

    Nixon started dating them

    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 they wear the pants in the GOP.

    The 'hot babe' is now the American Taliban. Look where this relationship got the GOP today.

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

    November 7, 2012 at 12:55 pm |
    • Andy

      So true. I'm a democrat, but I think it would be healthier for the country if we had two healthy parties. The Republicans have been ill with the religious-right nonsense for quite some time.

      November 7, 2012 at 12:58 pm |
  7. iceload9

    On the state level there is no indication the "religious right" is weakening at all. Maybe just the opposite. At the national level, the GOP needs to find a moderate, otherwise the zealots will continue to lose ground. McConnell, Boehner and Cantor wasted 4 years the US could have been rebuilding with one goal to unseat the president. Now that they failed that, do we have to waste another 4 years?

    November 7, 2012 at 12:54 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Let's hope not, though Mitch McConnell did not take a concillatory tone in a message last night.

      The GOP would be well served to replace McConnell, Boehner and Cantor to demonstrate that they are listening to the American people.

      November 7, 2012 at 12:57 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Meanwhile, Fox will scapegoat Mitt Rmoney.

      November 7, 2012 at 12:57 pm |
    • Primewonk

      " On the state level there is no indication the "religious right" is weakening at all. "

      Thompson, Walsh, Akin, Mourdock.

      It's small, but it's a start.

      November 7, 2012 at 1:14 pm |
  8. gladiatorgrl



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

      Here , here, no preferential treatment to any organization.

      November 7, 2012 at 1:03 pm |
  9. SurelyUjest

    Two things should have become very clear to the GOP/TeaParty folks after this election. 1. They need to change their platform to include more ethnic diversity in brown and browning states. This mostly means immigration but there are a host of other social issues this is tied to not just immigration. 2. They need to rethink tieing themselves to a minority of Christians while the evangelicals are a huge part of the GOP ground game it has been dwarfed by Obama community organizer type of ground game. By supporting more moderate voices inside their own party it will allow them to appeal to a wider religious demographic. Again the "not affiliated" and "athiest" groups are the largest growing religious groups along with Mormonism if they do not see where the future wind blows they will never win the WH again.

    November 7, 2012 at 12:52 pm |
    • chipndale


      As a proclaimed Libertarian, anytime a fringe group on eather side tries to force beliefs on the other, you will see the results like this. I would love to see moderates win back the majority.

      November 7, 2012 at 1:00 pm |
  10. Godcrusher Two Point Oh

    bye bye churchies!

    November 7, 2012 at 12:52 pm |
  11. God's Oldest Dreamer

    I just love the smells blatant mystic votes! It adds to the smell of urinals and the sh!tter-sitter!

    November 7, 2012 at 12:52 pm |
    • Andy

      True – the mystic votes of the myth-believers is pretty stinky. Thankfully they did not prevail.

      November 7, 2012 at 1:00 pm |
    • Bet

      Maybe it's just time to change your underwear.

      November 7, 2012 at 1:24 pm |
  12. caralee2010

    No. The "Christian Right" did not really play in this election as they have in times passed, because they were sharply divided themselves. About half of conservative evangelicals were able to overcome their thoughts that Mormonism is a cult, and voted for Romney. But a huge portion of the people I spoke with – people who have never voted for a democrat or anything other than the republican candidate – either did not cast a ballot for president, or voted for Pres. Obama, feeling it would be a terrifically negative thing to have Romney as president simply because it would create a national soapbox for his faith. I don't agree – I'm just reporting. As a member of what is often broad-brushed as the "Christian Right" – I know we didn't congeal around Romney.

    November 7, 2012 at 12:52 pm |
    • Ben

      You'll never again have the demographic strength to make a meaningful difference in any election. Your demographic and worldview are dying. Sorry, just reporting.

      November 7, 2012 at 12:53 pm |
    • SurelyUjest

      This is part of the point I made but I am glad you brought it up. Not all Christians are created equal in the world of politics. If the GOP just lets God do what God is going to do and NOT dictate a mandate that one branch of Christians believe over other branches I think they will be better off by just accepting and including more. Yes this will disenfranchise some hard core activists but looking in to the future pretty much spells it out for where the GOP platform needs to shift. Because of hard core evanagelical thinking the GOP lost two solid GOP seats in the Senate and everytime a religious person spouts off how faith HAS to be supported in extreme terms they will keep some but push others away.

      November 7, 2012 at 12:58 pm |
    • GardenGrl

      ...no doubt the rise of the evil zero-sumgame–Libertarian/Republicans also contributed. Not exactly about loaves and fishes, that bunch!

      November 7, 2012 at 1:02 pm |
  13. Sane Person

    Christianity is a glorified fairy tale, start using your brains.

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

      have you read the bible?

      November 7, 2012 at 12:56 pm |
    • Sane Person

      Yes, and it is completely ridiculous nonsense.

      November 7, 2012 at 12:58 pm |
    • fintastic

      The bible = The fairy tale book of pick-n-choose folklore, and mythology.

      November 7, 2012 at 1:01 pm |
    • Sandy

      Read by an intelligent mind, the bible represents a very strong case that the Christian god does not exist.

      November 7, 2012 at 1:03 pm |
    • God's Oldest Dreamer


      Do you understand such literal bible fancies such as,,,

      1. John 18:36 Jesus answered, "My kingdom is not of this world" or
      2. Luke 17:21 Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is INSIDE you.
      3. 1Corinthians 3:9 For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, [ye are] God's building.

      Do you say these words are not Truth?

      November 7, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
    • SurelyUjest

      I have also read the Bible many times, it is ONE source only not THE ONLY ONE source to wisdom and spiritual growth. The Bible is filled with so much garbage that to accept it in its totality today would require I ignore facts which I will never do. That said the Bible does have some very meaningful information and can help everyone but it is probably best put along side multiple sources and then used. Either way I dont support your arguement based on ONE source.

      November 7, 2012 at 1:08 pm |
  14. GRK

    I voted for Romney and was sorry he lost. I more often vote Republican but always feel like I have to turn my nose up at the "values" position that the evangelical base requires for candidates to be nominated. Time to drop this religious idiocy my republican friends. Don't quote us the bible please. No one cares.

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

      Economically, I'm conservative. But I will put as many democrats as possible between me and the religious zealots disguised as politicians until they are banished from the electorate. Separation of church and state, people! Our government was not founded to legislate morality and the democracy will be endangered until this is widely appreciated.

      November 7, 2012 at 1:03 pm |
  15. Jerry Tom

    Isn't it wonderful? Jesus gets slammed yesterday in the polls, and all then cross-suckers and Bible-howlers are out today saying "God MEANT to do that, really" or "You're gonna burn in hell!!!"

    November 7, 2012 at 12:51 pm |
  16. Reality

    Leaving the gods and souls out of the discussion:

    Only for the new members of this blog:-->>>>>>>>>>>>

    The reality of se-x, abortion, contraception and STD/HIV control: – from a guy who enjoys intelligent se-x-
    Note: Some words hyphenated to defeat an obvious word filter. ...

    The Brutal Effects of Stupidity:

    : The failures of the widely used birth "control" methods i.e. the Pill (8.7% actual failure rate) and male con-dom (17.4% actual failure rate) have led to the large rate of abortions and S-TDs in the USA. Men and women must either recognize their responsibilities by using the Pill or co-ndoms properly and/or use safer methods in order to reduce the epidemics of abortion and S-TDs.- Failure rate statistics provided by the Gut-tmacher Inst-itute. Unfortunately they do not give the statistics for doubling up i.e. using a combination of the Pill and a condom.

    Added information before making your next move:

    from the CDC-2006

    "Se-xually transmitted diseases (STDs) remain a major public health challenge in the United States. While substantial progress has been made in preventing, diagnosing, and treating certain S-TDs in recent years, CDC estimates that approximately 19 million new infections occur each year, almost half of them among young people ages 15 to 24.1 In addition to the physical and psy-ch-ological consequences of S-TDs, these diseases also exact a tremendous economic toll. Direct medical costs as-sociated with STDs in the United States are estimated at up to $14.7 billion annually in 2006 dollars."

    And from:

    Consumer Reports, January, 2012

    "Yes, or-al se-x is se-x, and it can boost cancer risk-

    Here's a crucial message for teens (and all se-xually active "post-teeners": Or-al se-x carries many of the same risks as va-ginal se-x, including human papilloma virus, or HPV. And HPV may now be overtaking tobacco as the leading cause of or-al cancers in America in people under age 50.

    "Adolescents don’t think or-al se-x is something to worry about," said Bonnie Halpern-Felsher professor of pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco. "They view it as a way to have intimacy without having 's-ex.'" (It should be called the Bill Clinton Syndrome !!)

    Obviously, political leaders in both parties, Planned Parenthood, parents, the "stupid part of the USA" and the educational system have failed miserably on many fronts.

    The most effective forms of contraception, ranked by "Perfect use":

    – (Abstinence, 0% failure rate)
    – (Masturbation, mono or mutual, 0% failure rate)

    Followed by:

    One-month injectable and Implant (both at 0.05 percent)
    Vasectomy and IUD (Mirena) (both at 0.1 percent)
    The Pill, Three-month injectable, and the Patch (all at 0.3 percent)
    Tubal sterilization (at 0.5 percent)
    IUD (Copper-T) (0.6 percent)
    Periodic abstinence (Post-ovulation) (1.0 percent)
    Periodic abstinence (Symptothermal) and Male condom (both at 2.0 percent)
    Periodic abstinence (Ovulation method) (3.0 percent)

    Every other method ranks below these, including Withdrawal (4.0), Female condom (5.0), Diaphragm (6.0), Periodic abstinence (calendar) (9.0), the Sponge (9.0-20.0, depending on whether the woman using it has had a child in the past), Cervical cap (9.0-26.0, with the same caveat as the Sponge), and Spermicides (18.0).

    November 7, 2012 at 12:51 pm |
  17. Wysteria Bloom

    I would hope that the influence of true Christian values would never be "over" - loving thy neighbor, judge not lest ye be judged, remembering that it is easier for a rich man to pass through the eye of needle than to get into heaven and that when you show kindness to "the least of these" that you have shown it to Christ himself. And above all else HUMILITY in all things. By the way, you don't have to be Christian to believe these things. I believe them simply because they are the right way to be. I don't have to go to church to know that, but this is the message that Christianity and most other religions seek to spread. The only time it becomes a problem is when humans muddle things up (as humans tend to do).

    November 7, 2012 at 12:50 pm |
    • Jerry Tom


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

      Treat others as you expect to be treated yourself.

      The golden rule was around long before Christianity and provides a very sound basis for social contract, irrespective of any religion.

      November 7, 2012 at 1:00 pm |
    • kt

      love thy neighbor, that's why the repubs want to end fema, welfare, medicare, medicaid, social security, gay marriage, women's right to life. Hmm, seems like someone needs to get their house in order before trying to impose their religious views on people who do not participate in your religion what so ever. Separation of church and state, people!

      November 7, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
    • chipndale

      Well put. This happens when human ambition and fear overtake reason and humility.

      November 7, 2012 at 1:07 pm |
  18. gladiatorgrl

    Atheist Hunter

    gladiatorgrl........maybe not now, but soon
    we're ALL worm food in the end Bucky.....

    November 7, 2012 at 12:50 pm |
  19. JesusIsTheWay

    Luke 12:8-9 Also I say unto you, Whosoever shall confess me before men, him shall the Son of man also confess before the angels of God: But he that denieth me before men shall be denied before the angels of God. And whosoever shall speak a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him; but unot him that blasphemeth against the Holy Ghost it shall not be forgiven.

    November 7, 2012 at 12:50 pm |
    • gladiatorgrl

      Are there no workhouses, are there no prisons? (GOP and religious rights mantra)

      Ebeneezer Scrooge – A Christmas Carol

      see we can all quote from books.. you should remember the lesson taught in this one...

      "MANKIND should have been my business"... Jacob Marley

      November 7, 2012 at 12:53 pm |
    • God's Oldest Dreamer

      Holy Ghost? Do you mean the Nothingness that stretches from the far reaches of outerspace and is intertwined into the very depths of Innerspace places?

      November 7, 2012 at 12:56 pm |
    • Reality

      Not so fast:

      Luke 12: 8-9 has been thoroughly analyzed by many contemporary NT scholars. And many of these experts have concluded that the passage is historically nil.

      e.g. See http://www.faithfutures.org/JDB/jdb028.html and Professor Gerd Luedemann [Jesus After 2000 Years, p. 344] states " this is a prophetic admonition from the post-Easter community and therefore inauthentic."

      November 7, 2012 at 1:07 pm |
  20. palintwit

    So did Sarah Palin's head explode yet ? Bwawahahahahahahah !!

    November 7, 2012 at 12:50 pm |
    • BD

      I hope not, I was hoping to see that live.

      November 7, 2012 at 12:53 pm |
    • Jerry Tom

      No. Sadly, she continues to make a lot of money as a professional media whore. It's actually more lucrative for them when they are the opposition, just like the gun industry has much higher sales and profits under Democratic governments.

      November 7, 2012 at 12:53 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 with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.