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 “The American religious and ethnic landscape is becoming increasingly diverse, and any campaigns relying on outdated maps are destined to lose their way.”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. Reality

    The topic is about who propelled BO to the White (Blood Red) House. And the answer is once again, the Immoral/Stupid Majority did (just like they did in 2008:->>>>

    Some added details about the Stupid Majority:

    The reality of se-x, abortion, contraception and STD/HIV control: – from an agnostic 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.

    November 17, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
    • Tony from Oakland Ca.

      Stop making excuses. Voters rallied against GOP policies to denounce Grover Norquist. Not religion. Democrats never rallied on t heBirth Control issue. It is the GOP who rallied on the Birth Control issue after ACA's passage because womens health treatment is entailed within the laws coverage. And the GOP mistakenly made Birth control an issue to their political detriment. A Party believing in smaller Goverment but sanctioning power to a Government to impose Birth decisions on it's women voters only made the GOP look politically im-potent.

      November 17, 2012 at 6:10 pm |
    • Reality

      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 18, 2012 at 12:04 am |
  2. John the Historian

    So the God of rapist, murderer, polygamist, and bank fraud con man Joseph Smith was a false God. A mormon will never be president. The cult of mormonism is pure americana folklore, ripoffs of Christian religions, and takeovers of freemasonry. When do mormons realize their cult should disband. Their 12 prophets want only money from the collection plate. There is no planet kolob. Jesus Christ was not a polygamist. Jesus Christ did not preach to the American-Indians. Indians are not descendants from any Jewish group. DNA testing has proved that. Mormons please disband now. Display your gold tablets if you can.

    November 17, 2012 at 2:38 pm |
    • True 'dat

      Yes, and we also anxiously await the display of those tablets of Moses, Noah's ark, and remnants of those 5000 magic fish bones.

      November 17, 2012 at 2:46 pm |
    • mama k

      Mormonism is a myth built on top of Gullible's Travels, Part 2 (NT), built on top of Gullible's Travels, Part 1 (OT), dear. Did you miss the memo?

      November 17, 2012 at 2:49 pm |
    • Howard


      November 17, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
    • Athy

      Turn off caps lock, please.

      November 17, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
  3. Free Man in the Republic of Texas

    Religiously unaffiliated, minority Christians propelled Obama’s victory

    "I" will use anyone... As long as "I" win !!!

    FORWARD -> -> ->
    To TOTAL depravity !!!

    November 17, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
    • End Religion

      depravity, coming soon to a State near you. How are you feeling about becoming a blue State in next election?

      November 17, 2012 at 3:04 pm |
    • Howard


      November 17, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
    • Veritas

      Howard, If god existed and was as powerful as you say and your views represent his/hers/its, I'm pretty sure he/she/it would have. So in conclusion, a god as you believe it does not exist, or your view is not compatible with its. Either way you're in for a big disappointment.

      November 17, 2012 at 7:46 pm |

    What did Iranian President hint to Piers Morgan would happen if Israel attcked the Palistinians? Syria, Egpt, Iran then China and Russia? What can the U.S. do now? What would an evil "narcissistic sociopathic" POTUS do or care about? Inquiring Bible believers want to know.

    November 17, 2012 at 11:27 am |

      don't forget turkey

      November 17, 2012 at 2:43 pm |

    CNN MANAGEMENT - "Truth about Benghazi" - all those prisoners were released and spent hours with the Americans before killing them - Congress knows the truth and feel sick, right? - CNN, MSNBC and FOX know or at least suspect - Chris Matthews and Rachel Maddow no doubt suspect and imagine as I do imagine. Congress needs help to do the right thing -all need strength to fight the evil tide as amply exemplified in CNN blog streams - no need to ask why, you already know the scriptures. No one would be shocked or even care -they would probably laugh like they did for Obama at college campuses over "romnesia." No more social conscience left except in media and true believing minority - sorry to have to know it. You cannot turn back hands of time - what must occur has already occured and more will occur before it gets better. You already know this. Would a pagan tell you about this? No, and you know it.

    November 17, 2012 at 11:10 am |
  6. Obama

    I threw a cigarette out the window of Air Force one when I was flying over that platform in the Gulf of Mexico, I feel really bad but CNN won't report it cause I'm a democrat that's addicted to nicotine

    November 17, 2012 at 10:43 am |
    • Paul D Larson

      Your Bain job killer boy Rmoney lost the election. Ha Ha HA.

      November 17, 2012 at 10:45 am |
    • Joefrombflo

      Based on your message, I'd say the cigarette you had was a substance othre than tobacco.

      November 17, 2012 at 10:49 am |

    Many things are yet to occur - there will be an anti-Christ. There will be a period of "great tribulation" - one that no man has ever experienced before "nor will he ever experience again." Jesus said, "pray it does not occur in the wintertime nor while you are pregnant." Great Tribulation? Imagine - no money, homeless, incurable sickness, starvation, etc. among everyone -everyone on the earth. CNN, MSNBC and FOX know the signs right?

    November 17, 2012 at 10:41 am |
    • End Religion

      is the same apocalypse you've been promising for 2000 years? Can you just get it underway, please, so we can be done with it?

      November 17, 2012 at 3:07 pm |

    Jesus said, "You will hear of wars and RUMORS of wars (via the Media?), but see that you are not terrified for the end is not yet."

    November 17, 2012 at 10:37 am |

    As Jesus said to Judas Iscariot, Jehovah's holy spirit says to the media - "Do what you must and be quick about it"

    November 17, 2012 at 10:35 am |

    CNN, MSNBC and FOX might be tools used by Jehovah to promote the inevitable - to help show the signs. Pagans are too blinded to know. The Media can help you see –maybe?

    November 17, 2012 at 10:32 am |

    CNN MANAGEMENT: Read Matthew 24 and 1 Timothy 3- In the "last days" - wars, earthquakes, floods, disobedient to parents, blasphers, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, pestilence, food shortage, ungodly pride, etc. You are reporting all the signs - you are in best position to see what is about to come as foretold in the scriptures - think about it.

    November 17, 2012 at 10:25 am |
    • Huebert

      CNN is a news network. They don't report on faerie tales.

      November 17, 2012 at 10:27 am |
  12. Obama

    I smoke every day because I want to get cancer

    November 17, 2012 at 10:14 am |
  13. ElmerGantry

    I'm gay, I came out of the closet a couple of years ago

    November 17, 2012 at 10:10 am |
  14. Clarke

    Most atheist pray to Darwin, and he tells us we can do whatever we want. We can be gay, we can kill, whatever we want cause we're not accountable to the magic man in the sky.

    November 17, 2012 at 8:16 am |
  15. Clarke

    I'm gay and proud of it, who cares. But the election is OVER, just move on!!

    November 17, 2012 at 8:02 am |
    • Leopold Stotch

      Nobody cares that your gay. Keep it to yourself. No need to advertise your gayness.

      November 17, 2012 at 8:15 am |
    • ElmerGantry

      Remembering this quote from Jim Inhoffe when he said to Nancy Pelosi,

      " We Won, You Lost, Now Get a Life "

      November 17, 2012 at 8:15 am |
  16. Tom, Tom the Piper's son

    I'm gay and don't appreciate people making fun of my life style. I am also an atheist because they accept me for who I am.

    November 17, 2012 at 7:57 am |
    • Leopold Stotch

      Well good for you.

      November 17, 2012 at 8:16 am |
  17. Clarke

    Can we move on, the election is over and Obama won because Mitt lost. Can we just leave religion where it belongs. Just accept the fact that there is a winner and a loser. Let it go, don't try to make something out of nothing, just for a headline.

    November 17, 2012 at 7:19 am |
  18. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    November 17, 2012 at 7:03 am |
    • Athiesm....not cool

      Prayer be da bomb and bible thumpas rule! We Catholics support the priests...even if they drool....on da alta boyz petas...and schlob dat daily knobb....its time to say they beat us...then nibble on dat corn cobb!!! Boyeeee

      November 17, 2012 at 7:17 am |
    • ElmerGantry

      Repeat troll Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things stated once again and again and again over and over; Ad Nauseum,
      "Prayer changes things"

      Earlier I challenged you to do something positive for humanity by praying to stop the international forced sëx trafficking of an estimatated 800,000 people.

      To wit,

      I see your prayers to stop the estimated 800,000 people who are forced into sëx traficking across international borders have not worked.
      Wait since prayer changes things that means you have not been praying to stop this scourge on humanity.

      Why won't you pray to stop this repulsive human abuse?

      Matthew 21:21:
      I tell you the truth, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, 'Go, throw yourself into the sea,' and it will be done. If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.
      [A true believer can ask a mountain to throw itself into the sea, and it will be done. LOL!]

      Mark 9:23
      All things are possible to him who believes.

      Luke 1:37:
      For with God nothing will be impossible.

      John 14:12 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.

      John 14:13 And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.

      John 14:14 If ye shall ask anything in my name, I will do it.

      Nothing could be simpler or clearer than Jesus' promises about prayer in the Bible.
      So there you have it, straight from Jesus in the New Testament in clear, simple, and unequivocal terms.

      You are a sincere believer are you not?

      So go ahead and do it. Pray to god to eliminate forced international sëx traficking, bacterial disease, genetic disorders, war, famine, etc.

      In Matthew 21:21 Jesus states; I tell you the truth, if you have faith and do not doubt you can do anything including making a mountain throw itself into the sea. You do have faith and do not doubt, RIGHT? So do it.

      Or perhaps your faith is not really up to snuff and you know that so you do not pray to end these human scourges but instead only come up with your usual wimpy statements and name calling.

      November 17, 2012 at 8:00 am |
    • 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:
      "pervert alert" is the degenerate.

      This troll is not a christian. ..

      November 17, 2012 at 8:17 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 17, 2012 at 8:18 am |

    The voter suppression efforts of the unhinged GOBP tea potty backfired. They poked the sleeping bear. 3 million republicans stayed home to punish Mitt the twit.

    November 17, 2012 at 6:50 am |
    • Leopold Stotch

      And the rest of America re-elected the commie.

      November 17, 2012 at 8:18 am |
  20. W.G.

    The Conservative So-called christians are todays Pharasees . They backed
    a Mormon whose faith is based on Blasphemy . That´s why they the republicans
    lost . The mormons believe that satan was Jesus´s brother and that black
    people are angels that refused to take sides in the battle for earth .
    that´s why they lost . Mr. Obama says he´s a Christian I take him at his word . I can pray that GOD Directs and Guides Him . Romney is just a Blasphemer .

    November 17, 2012 at 6:26 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.