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. Phillip

    Christians influence should only be so far anyway, because we're not all christians, people have different morals. Unfortunatly to Christians if everyones morals don't allign with theirs, it's "the end of a great america".

    November 7, 2012 at 10:37 am |
  2. NYKnows

    It is really bizarre that the GOP bellows about wanting "small" government and more "freedom" while at the same time working to destroy human rights and true ability to choose for oneself. The talk does not match the walk – and when we get a chance to vote against them, we do. The only surprise yesterday was the GOP strangehold over the House being held – so we'll have to step up the vote at the next election to free the House from the poison too. But the relief of REAL freedom and REAL choice inherent in the Obama and Senate wins is palpable, and we can also rest easy that the Supreme Court will not be filled up with more people-haters working against this country.

    November 7, 2012 at 10:36 am |
    • therealpeace2all


      Amen, brother...


      November 7, 2012 at 10:39 am |
  3. babooph

    All that delusion & no outlet?Uh Oh...

    November 7, 2012 at 10:36 am |
  4. Stefan

    I hope this is the case. I have nothing against religious people – but if you are regressive, and refuse to believe in science, you are a dead weight on our country holding us back from competing in the world.

    The sooner the republican party relieves themselves of fundamentalists, the sooner they can get a crack at my vote. But while I agree with them on many economic policies, I flatly refuse to vote for anyone in bed with the fundamentalists who are campaigning to take away the rights of their fellow citizens.

    November 7, 2012 at 10:36 am |
    • Smukers

      Absolutely on point!

      November 7, 2012 at 9:03 pm |
  5. jnpa

    Is the Christian right's influence over? Let's hope so!

    November 7, 2012 at 10:35 am |
    • tallulah13

      It's not. The election was too close for that to be the case.

      November 7, 2012 at 10:45 am |
    • Honey Badger Dont Care

      60/40, same as the previous election was too close? While I would rather it have been 80/20 it was still far from close.

      November 7, 2012 at 10:48 am |
  6. lindaluttrell

    I do not care about a candidate's religious beliefs. That SHOULD be personal! What I DO care about is the candidate's agenda and how it affects me!

    November 7, 2012 at 10:34 am |
    • gladiatorgrl

      "one cannot separate their faith from their work" Paul Ryan during VP debate


      They will not stop EVER until they can shove their ideology and religion down everyone's throat... heck they're pinning away for the days they could just burn at the stake anyone who disagrees.

      November 7, 2012 at 10:36 am |
  7. clarke

    i feel that ones religious beliefs should not be imposed on to others that do not believe as you do, and visa versa. I also feel that religion is personal between me and my God. How others live their life and what they do is none of my business, I wasn't put on this earth to judge others. IMHO

    November 7, 2012 at 10:34 am |
    • Tammy P

      well put clarke

      November 7, 2012 at 10:43 am |
  8. quackyduck

    I'll believe the Reconstrucionist/Dominionist Right has lost their power when we have an openly Atheist president and marriage equality in all 50 states.

    November 7, 2012 at 10:34 am |
  9. Honey Badger Dont Care

    Hey republitards, in the immortal words of Shawn Connery …… SUCK IT TREBECK!!!

    November 7, 2012 at 10:33 am |
    • chelle

      That's "SEAN"

      November 7, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
  10. albie

    it is time to tax churches to help pay for the two wars they sanctioned

    November 7, 2012 at 10:33 am |
    • Honey Badger Dont Care

      Right on!

      November 7, 2012 at 10:34 am |
    • gladiatorgrl


      November 7, 2012 at 10:35 am |
    • babooph

      Wow,are you allowed to post that-though it is VERY accurate...?

      November 7, 2012 at 10:37 am |
  11. Sly

    No, God did not make those huricanes to punish America. God is not powerful enough to do those things.

    President Obama created that hurricane, and it led Him to victory.

    Sorry religiocrats, President Obama is Much more powerful than your God.

    I cannot imagine how anyone really thinks there is some fat black woman sitting in the clouds running Earth (obviously if there was a god She would not be white, since that is such a minority in this world).

    Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha – finally we can tell the politico-God types to stick it up their arz. We are SICK of you.

    November 7, 2012 at 10:33 am |
    • Atheist Hunter

      Isaiah 5:20: Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!

      November 7, 2012 at 11:01 am |
  12. cc423

    Yup. And it's about time.

    November 7, 2012 at 10:32 am |
    • Robert

      More of the same old thing from the Republicans that got everyone in too deep before would be a disaster for America at this point in time. A good dose of religion is good for everyone,but,religious extremism from the religious extreme right is a very dangerous thing. It can destroy freedom from withinn making them a far more dangerous enemy than any overt attack from a hostile foreign nation. It's also a breeding ground for terrorism. Americans have made the right decision. Good job

      November 7, 2012 at 10:50 am |
  13. kd

    Let's hope that the Christian Right influence is over but something tells me we'll continue to have to combat their angry, anti-women/anti-gay/anti-minority/anti-ACTUAL Christian values for a long time to come. But we learned that money can't buy an election, as hard as the right wing billionaires tried. So maybe, just maybe, the Christian Right ugliness and hate will fade away, too.

    November 7, 2012 at 10:31 am |
    • therealpeace2all


      You Said: " Let's hope that the Christian Right influence is over but something tells me we'll continue to have to combat their angry, anti-women/anti-gay/anti-minority/anti-ACTUAL Christian values for a long time to come. "

      That is certainly one big scenario. That the GOP/Christian Right will move even farther to the right... if that's possible.

      More likely, they will have to have a more moderate message and policy towards women, and minorities.

      I would look to see them bring in a younger non-white candidate... a Marco Rubio or something, since they got absolutely hammered on the Latino vote.

      But, we shall see.


      November 7, 2012 at 10:36 am |
  14. Michael

    Let's hope that it is. Far too long has the Christian right gotten away with destroying the freedoms of others in what is supposed to be the "land of the free." You can't FORCE people to be "good," especially your arbitrary definition of that word. Try to make all of the laws you want against it, but gay people are still going to fall in love and spend their lives with one another even as you use the law to try to make them second class citizens for doing so. I see nothing of Jesus in the Christian right, but here in the Bible belt, in many of the Sunday sermons, I've heard more judgment handed down in one hour than I'd hear in a whole week in a court of law.

    November 7, 2012 at 10:30 am |
    • Mormonism is a cult- FACT

      Christian Right are enemies of Freedom.

      November 7, 2012 at 10:38 am |
  15. DaveC

    Ted Cruz (just like Rubio) is going to be a one or two term wonder. Rubio is already softening his stance on so many issues he sounds like a moderate republican. The tea party and evangelical christian right wing nuts are done dictating to America. People like Palin, Bachmann and Santorum are history. They have no place in America today. They don't speak for Americans and need to crawl back into the hole they emerged from.

    Illinois just threw out three tea party representatives last night (including the ultimate stupid wing nut Joe Walsh). All of these guys and gals time is coming. Moderate republicans are on the rise and are ready to take over the republican party in the future and are ready to work with the other side of the aisle to achieve great things. Just wait and see. Five years from now you will not even recognize the republican party.

    November 7, 2012 at 10:29 am |
    • therealpeace2all

      @Dave C

      I hope that is the scenario.


      November 7, 2012 at 10:38 am |
    • babooph

      I hope it is not too little ,too late...

      November 7, 2012 at 10:39 am |
  16. gladiatorgrl


    The Christian Taliban needs to be kept in check and absolutely NO WHERE near power.

    November 7, 2012 at 10:29 am |
  17. Primewonk

    Have the fundiot nutter preachers – like Franklin Graham, put Mormons back in the cult category yet?

    November 7, 2012 at 10:27 am |
    • William Demuth


      Romney was a graven image!

      The reverends shall lead the faithfull back onto a path of righteousness (That also leads to misery and despair)

      Do NOT underestimate the ignorance of the Fundies.

      They will be agitating for war with Iran within a week.

      November 7, 2012 at 10:32 am |
  18. Randy

    These are sad times for America when perversion is legitimized and Marxism is embraced. The days of a great America are gone.

    November 7, 2012 at 10:27 am |
    • SnYGuY

      So accpetance and open mindedness are bad things?

      November 7, 2012 at 10:29 am |
    • albie

      you are clearly deluded – it is a great day in this country when we can minimize the negative effects of religion in any way, it has been a cancer in this country.

      November 7, 2012 at 10:31 am |
    • craig

      Just know that God is in control, he has a plan, and nothing will interrupt that plan. Our job is to carry the message of Hope that Jesus Saves to this dark , dark world we live in. Praise his name.

      November 7, 2012 at 10:33 am |
    • kd

      Oh, what a load. What's sad is that too many people actually believe this nonsense spouted by Randy.

      November 7, 2012 at 10:33 am |
    • Michael

      People like Randy were saying the same things about the Emancipation of the slaves and, later on, interracial marriage, etc. Things like social security and public parks were shrieked as being Communist.. the more things change, the more they stay the same.

      November 7, 2012 at 10:34 am |
    • Mike

      That Jet Blue offer is still out there. One way ticket out of the country waiting for you to claim it. Good luck finding a place to accept you.

      November 7, 2012 at 10:36 am |
    • Which God?

      Randy, who gave you the right to decide for others? Has your sky-fairy father given you such instructions? Have you heard those voices telling you that you need to preach the BS you do? There is medication for that you know. There is also something called education. You might try it. Works wonders against unfounded beliefs.

      November 7, 2012 at 10:36 am |
    • megan

      Is a truly sad day when the immorailty triumphs.

      November 7, 2012 at 10:38 am |
    • Mormonism is a cult- FACT


      Just know that God is in control, he has a plan, and nothing will interrupt that plan. Our job is to carry the message of Hope that Jesus Saves to this dark , dark world we live in. Praise his name.
      Your Santa died long ago a delusional and insane man.

      November 7, 2012 at 10:40 am |
    • TC

      Marriage isn't perversion, and Obama is a moderate, not a marxist.

      At least stick to the facts.

      November 7, 2012 at 10:41 am |
    • v_mag

      It's just one day after the election. These folks will re-group and tell themselves (and the rest of us) that the problem was that Mitt was too liberal. They'll point to Ted Cruz, the tea-wind-bagger in Texas and say that what needs to happen is to put more religious zealots on the ticket. It will be a long time before it hits them that the dinosaur is dying.

      I suppose we should have some sympathy. After all, they are Americans, too. But it's so difficult to feel warm and fuzzy about people who would like to force everybody to submit to their dreary religious dictates. But as Nebuchadnezzar saw, the writing is on the wall.

      November 7, 2012 at 10:45 am |
    • Really?

      Careful calling yourself America!

      November 7, 2012 at 10:46 am |
    • Bullethead

      They said the same thing when they freed the slaves. They said it again when Blacks got the vote and citizenship. Well the world didn't end, America became a greater nation, one closer to the ideals envisioned by the founders, and we pushed forward. Our country was certainly blessed since those days.

      November 7, 2012 at 10:48 am |
    • tallulah13

      Actually, Randy, it's scary that there are people like you who embrace lies and ignorance. Instead of trying to drag others down to your level, why not elevate yourself? I know it's hard work, but in the end it's healthier for the United States, and for you.

      November 7, 2012 at 10:52 am |
  19. Frederick1337

    And they wonder why the 5 year drought has come? Perhaps someones FATHER gave him power over storms, earthquakes, tidal waves, volcanos, droughts, and anything else he needs to see Justice finally served against these who try to murder him in america? This is not global warming, that I guarantee you. It is punishment for murder and attempted murder.

    November 7, 2012 at 10:26 am |
    • SnYGuY


      November 7, 2012 at 10:27 am |
    • William Demuth

      Must be a conspiracy of them Christ killin Jews, or maybe even the Bolsheviks, eh Freddy?

      Didn't mama tell ya'all to stay out the shine boy, or you was fixin to be dumber than a hitchin post?

      Mama is always right

      November 7, 2012 at 10:35 am |
    • UncleBenny


      November 7, 2012 at 10:39 am |
    • Rhonda Rahn

      Wow, I have to admit I am literally laughing. You are a perfect example of why Republicans have lost so badly.

      As a Democrat, I enourage you to continue to spout off your right wingnut beliefs. It is good for my party.

      November 7, 2012 at 10:39 am |
    • Which God?

      Well Freddy, I guess your cocoa-puffs rubbed off on you, you are coo-coo. Now I understand the "left beind" series (of books).You nuts are behind the 8 ball. You'll believe anything. Careful, the sky is gonna fall.

      November 7, 2012 at 10:40 am |
    • sarah

      Wow – lay off the bath salts.

      November 7, 2012 at 10:42 am |
    • KayMay

      No drought here!! It has rained pretty hard the last 2 days!! HAHA

      November 7, 2012 at 10:49 am |
    • RedskinsFan

      Wow... you must have some very nice medication.... can you send some of that to the scientists? With that kind of drug and their belief structure, we will have faster-than-light travel, cold fusion, a way to reverse global warming (caused by an overabundance of CO2 in our atmosphere, not god), and a real recipe for amrita, ambrosia, and a panacea by New Year's!

      Delusions and doomsaying do not become you. Learn scientific principles before you post another comment.

      November 7, 2012 at 10:58 am |
  20. tyler

    Cindy, blind faith and not thinking for yourself must be so comforting. And easy.

    November 7, 2012 at 10:25 am |
    • Frederick1337

      One need not faith. faith is a illusionment of man. ODIN needs not faith from his people to serve Justice. ODIN seeks not faith, HE seeks the brave and just man who champions the rights of the poor and oppressed. ODIN seeks the man who will arm his enemy in order to have a fair fight. It is he who would arm his enemy that is of the brave men and are worthy of Valhol. Whilst the coward plots in hiding, twisting the words of the brave man to try to make himself look powerful. ODIN looks upon the coward with hatred, seething hatred, and ODIN'S fury will be satiated with the blood of the coward. Storms and tidal waves and earthquakes and droughts and valcanos shall be the instruments of bloodshed against those who are cowardly and afraid, who do wicked deeds against the brave and disarm them to get their deeds done.

      November 7, 2012 at 10:32 am |
    • Rhonda Rahn

      For you who think that God is bringing bad weather to punish us Democrats, then please explain:

      ...why it was a hurricane that helped ruined Romney's chances?


      November 7, 2012 at 10:41 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.