Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The God Gap

The Fix explores the work of the Eleison Group, a consulting group that seeks to bridge the gap between faith and values voters and the Democratic Party. One of its founders, former Hillary Clinton aide Burns Strider, explains: “By communicating shared values and delivering a message that resonated with people of faith, we help Democrats and people of goodwill frame and expand the national values debate and focus attention on the common good that are central to America's families ad communities.”

The formation of the Eleison Group comes on the heels of the release of interesting new polling from the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life that reveals not only the large numbers of Americans who believe in God but also the gap between the parties among these religious/values voters. "One of the realities in politics in the U.S. today is that people who regularly attend worship services and hold traditional religious views are much more likely to hold conservative political views while those who are less connected to religious institutions and more secular in their outlook are more likely to hold liberal political views," according to the Pew summary document on the poll.

A few questions in the Pew poll explain this supposition:

* Among those who attend religious services weekly or more, 50 percent call themselves conservative as compared to 31 percent who describe themselves as moderate and 20 percent who think of themselves as liberal.

* Forty six percent of those who consider religion "very important" identify as conservatives as opposed to 32 percent who call themselves moderates and 12 percent who say they are liberals.

* Those who pray daily also are far more likely to think of themselves as conservative (44 percent) than liberal (15 percent). One in three Americans who pray every day refer to themselves as moderates.

In 2004, the exit polling revealed that the God Gap was even wider than expected:

Among voters who attended church more than weekly (16 percent of the overall vote), President Bush beat Sen. John Kerry (Mass.) 64 percent to 35 percent. Bush carried a 17 point edge among the one in four voters who went to church once a week. Voters who attended church on a monthly basis split evenly between Bush and Kerry, while those who attended infrequently or not at all skewed toward the Democrat.

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