WASHINGTON Religion could play an important role in Republican frontrunner Rudy Giuliani's presidential campaign while the chances of top Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton getting picked is much less affected by religion, according to the latest Gallup poll.
The results of the poll, which may not come as a surprise to some, revealed that former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani currently does much better among Americans who attend church at least monthly compared to New York senator Hillary Clinton.
According to the Gallup report, released Thursday, 53 percent of those who attend church weekly said they would prefer to vote for Giuliani over Clinton; 54 percent of those who attend nearly weekly or monthly said the same. Meanwhile, 42 percent of both weekly church attendants and nearly weekly/monthly attendants said they would vote for Clinton in the 2008 election.
Among Americans who seldom or never attend church, Clinton defeats Giuliani primarily the result of variation among independent voters who don't have strong attachments to either candidate, according to the Gallup analysis. Fifty-four percent said they would prefer voting for Clinton compared to 43 percent for Giuliani.
An aggregate of the more than 3,000 poll interviews collected during June and July 2007 reveal that the two candidates tied at 48 percent.
Among blacks, who are both highly religious and more likely to be Democrats, the latest Gallup poll found that support for Clinton over Giuliani is overwhelming regardless of the frequency of church attendance. Results show 85 percent of black prefer Clinton compared to 10 percent for Giuliani.
Among whites, 54 percent said they would vote for Giuliani if the election was being held today while 41 percent would vote for Clinton. Giuliani also fares well with the highly religious non-Hispanic white vote (61 percent) but still falls short among whites who seldom or never attend church (46 percent). Clinton has a slight 3-point advantage over Giuliani among whites in the latter group.
Gallup poll results suggest that if religion is a factor in a possible Clinton-Giuliani match-up, it would play itself out primarily among independents. Giuliani has the advantage among independents who attend church at least monthly while Clinton has the advantage among independents who seldom or never attend church.
Gallup's latest analysis comes as a recent Washington Post-ABC News poll conducted July 18-21 showed Giuliani as the top Republican contender with 37 percent support followed by 16 percent for Arizona Sen. John McCain and 15 percent for the still-undeclared Fred Thompson, former senator from Tennessee.
While nearly half of Republicans believe Giuliani is their party's best chance of winning in November 2008, his lead has shrunk in the presidential race. Moreover, only a third of his supporters said they are strongly behind his candidacy compared to Clinton who has a strong backing of nearly seven in 10 of those who support her, the Washington Post-ABC News poll revealed.
About a third of Republicans said they regard Giuliani's views on social issues as too liberal, including 51 percent of white evangelicals.