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« on: January 04, 2005, 01:11:45 AM »

Post-Election 2004 Survey Shows Christians' Major Impact

by Jenni Parker
January 3, 2005

(AgapePress) - A new nationwide survey by a Christian cultural research firm suggests that the results of the 2004 presidential election might have been very different had it not been for the huge "values voter" turnout.

According to the Barna Research Group, most of George W. Bush's supporters did at least two things during the first week of November: they voted to re-elect the president and they went to church. The much touted "values voters," those driven by moral or religious convictions, are being cited as a big part of the reason the 2004 race did not result in a cliffhanger similar to the teasingly gradual end of the 2000 presidential election.

The Barna Group's post-election surveys show that adults who have an "active faith" -- that is, those survey respondents who had in the past week attended a church service, prayed to God, and read the Bible outside of church -- also provided President Bush with a two-to-one margin of preference in the 2004 vote.

Indicators of religious conviction in the Barna survey gave President Bush a virtual clean sweep among voters who put faith and values first. Self-described "committed Christians" cast their ballots for the incumbent by a 60% to 39% margin; those voters who said they were deeply spiritual preferred him by a 58% to 41% divide; and those who asserted they were "concerned about the moral condition of the nation" registered a 55% majority for Bush.

Election 2004 Confirms Barna's Faith Factor Predictions
This outcome cannot come as much of a surprise to Christian pollster George Barna, whose research group predicted several months ago that values would be a crucial factor in this fall's election.

During the last week of May, the Barna Group surveyed more than 1,600 randomly selected adults, asking them about their intentions and preferences for the upcoming vote. Barna's analysts found that, although registered voters' responses suggested the presidential race would be a virtual "dead heat" with only a slim lead for Bush, their survey also revealed that, overall, people's choice of a presidential candidate was more likely to be influenced by their faith than by their party preference or demographic background.

Ultimately, Barna's findings proved to be far more reliable even than the early exit polls on November 2. Born-again Christians supported Bush by a 62% to 38% margin. By comparison, non-born again voters supported John Kerry by almost the same margin (59% to 39%). The difference that made all the difference was each segment's rate of voter turnout.

A Barna report notes that, although the born-again population makes up about 38% of the U.S. population, it represented 53% of the vote in the 2004 election. Had born-again Christians shown up in numbers proportional to their population share, Kerry would have won the election by the very same margin of victory with which Bush carried the day.

And while evangelical Christians make up only 7 percent of America's voting-aged population, they constituted 11 percent of the voters and supported Bush by an 85% to 15% margin. Non-evangelical born-again believers, who cast 42% of all the votes, chose Bush by a 56% to 44% ratio. Combining these two voting blocs yields a 62% majority among all born-again voters.

Also, while slightly more Catholics sided with the Democrat candidate in the 2000 race (going for Al Gore by a ratio of 49% to 44%), in 2004 the Catholic vote was divided evenly. Therefore, although Bush did not retain all the Catholic support he generated during his campaign, he did manage to increase his Catholic constituency enough to secure a victory.

At the same time, the president's support among Protestant voters increased from the 2000 margin (51% to 47%) to a significantly healthier share of the November 2004 vote (57% to 42%) Here again, turnout was a major factor. Protestant voters went from being 56% of the total vote in 2000 to comprising 62% of the overall voter turnout in 2004.

Values Was THE Issue
George Barna points out that this year's election reflects the most cohesive outpouring of support from the born-again community in a long time. He says born-again Christians gave Bush a 15-point margin of preference in the 2000 election, and upped the ante in 2004, awarding him a 24-point margin.

"Upon examining their reasons for doing so," the Christian researcher notes, "it is clear that they were more interested in the character of the candidate and the worldview that forms the basis of his decision-making than they were in specific issues."

In fact, the researcher says relatively few voters seemed to be driven by issues in this election, regardless of which candidate they supported. Barna says the 2004 presidential election was ultimately more a statement about people's feelings toward Bush as a leader and a person than it was about any particular issue.

As America's "values voters" become increasingly aware of the significant role they played in the 2004 election outcome, pro-family leaders are making an effort to mobilize them for a sustained effort. Don Wildmon, chairman of the American Family Association, has established a website, ValuesVoters.com, to bring together those U.S. citizens who believe traditional values matter and want to be involved in restoring those values across their nation.

"We need to be aware, prepared and involved," Wildmon says, "because the 30 million values voters who supported President Bush are already being told we must abandon the values we voted to protect in order to reach out to them and unite our country."

Values voters must continue to play an active role, the pro-family leader says, particularly in resisting the efforts of secularists who would legalize same-sex marriage, promote the safe-sex myth to school children, enact laws giving special rights to homosexuals, and oppose the sanctity of life and the protection of the unborn in America.

Wildmon is urging pro-family individuals to "come together, stay informed, and be involved," starting out by signing up as a "Values Voter" on the new Christian activism website.


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