WASHINGTON – Young white evangelicals are less likely to be Republican compared to previous years but still maintain conservative views, according to a recent analysis.
The younger generation of white evangelicals (ages 18-29) have undergone a significant drop in their support of Bush as well as their identification as Republicans, reported The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life this past Friday.
Analysis of surveys conducted between 2001 and 2007 by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press suggests that this constituency which was once among Bush's strongest supporters has increasingly become dissatisfied with him and is moving away from the GOP.
In 2002, 87 percent of young white evangelicals approved of Bush's job performance, according to Pew. However, Bush's approval plummeted by 42 percentage points by August 2007, leaving only 45 percent of this voting block maintaining a positive response to his job in office.
The older white evangelical generation (ages 30 and above), in comparison, has also dropped in its approval of Bush but in a much more gradual decline – falling only 28 points between 2002 and August 2007 instead of the 42 points seen in the younger generation.
However, Pew pointed out the drop in Bush support by younger white evangelicals still left this group with a significantly higher approval of the president than the overall population of this age group (45 percent vs. 28 percent).
In addition to dropping allegiance to Bush, younger white evangelicals are also dropping their Republican Party identity as evident in the 15 percentage point drop between 2001 and August 2007.
There was nearly a four-to-one edge in the number of younger white evangelicals who identified themselves as Republicans compared to those that said they were Democrats in 2005. Now, in 2007, Republicans have only a two-to-one edge over Democrats among younger white evangelicals.
However, the Republican's loss is not necessary the Democrat's gain, the Pew Forum pointed out.
This former Republican voting base mostly identifies itself as independents and politically unaffiliated Americans which have seen a ten point increase. Meanwhile, Democrats have only seen a five-point increase derived from this group.
Despite the drop in Republican affiliation, young white evangelicals in 2007 still identify their political views as conservative (44 percent) in roughly the same percentage as in 2001.
Conservative opinions among this constituency include a solid majority of this group (60 percent) believing the use of military force in Iraq was the right decision, favoring the death penalty (72 percent) for convicted murderers and supporting stricter laws to make it more difficult for a woman to get an abortion (70 percent).
"This strong allegiance to conservatism and conservative positions suggests that young white evangelicals' turn away from the president and his party may be the product of dissatisfaction with this particular administration rather than the result of an underlying shift in this group's political values and policy views," concluded Pew.