Religious convictions have the greatest influence on a voter's decisions, according to a recently released study from the Ventura, California-based Barna Group.
In findings released last week, Barna found that of ten possible influences on a voter, the category of "Your Religious Beliefs" had the most respondents say that it influenced their views "A lot."
"The top-rated sources of influence are a person's religious beliefs (18% say that had 'a lot of influence') and family members (10%). The other eight sources examined fall within the five to eight percent range," noted Barna.
"When combining those who say a source exerted either 'a lot' or 'some' influence upon their choice of a presidential candidate, the rankings change only slightly. The top influence is still religious beliefs, listed by one-third of adults (33%). That was followed by family members and news media, each listed by 28 percent, then friends and television political commentators, each chosen by one-quarter (26%)."
The ten categories of influence that Barna asked respondents about were "Your Religious Beliefs," "Family Members," "News Media," "Friends," "Advertising by the Campaigns," "Political Commentators on Television," "Political Commentators on Radio," "Political Commentators on Websites/Social Media," "Political Commentators in Publications," and "Your Church's Pastor."
While the Barna study put religious views as the biggest influence on voting, the same study found that pastors were the smallest influence on voting.
"The only laggard among the 10 sources is the pastor of the respondent's church, listed as having at least some influence by just 14 percent of adults," continued Barna.
"However, when those people who do not have someone they consider to be their pastor were eliminated from consideration, then pastors were tied with the other four sources as the lowest-ranked influence, impacting one-fifth of adults (20%)."
The data came from a national sample of 1,023 United States adults who completed an online survey from Sept. 12-19, with a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percent.
The Barna Group's study was released not long after the conclusion of the Reverend Franklin Graham's "Decision America Tour."
Begun in February, the tour involved Graham holding prayer rallies at the capitals of all fifty states and the District of Columbia, often gathering thousands of attendees.
At these rallies, Graham encouraged people to vote on biblical principles, stressing that the nation cannot be saved by either major party, but only by God.
In an interview with The Christian Post on Oct. 12 in Richmond, Virginia, Graham reasoned that the major issue of the upcoming presidential election was the future composition of the United States Supreme Court.
"First of all, when it comes to the presidential election, it's not about emails that are lost, it's not about crude and vulgar language. That's not what this vote is about. It's about the Supreme Court," said Graham.
"You have to choose for yourself, I'm not going to tell you who to vote for. But you just have to look at the two candidates and what they stand for."