Not only did African-American and Hispanic voters vote overwhelmingly for now president-elect Barack Obama, but they did so with nearly no discrepancy between born-again and non-born again voters, a new survey shows.
There was no statistically significant difference between black born again voters and black non-born again voters, according to the Barna report titled “How People of Faith Voted in the 2008 Presidential Race,” which was released Monday.
Similarly, there was no noteworthy distinction in candidate preference between Hispanic born agains and Hispanic non-born again voters.
Obama received more than 90 percent of the African-American vote and three-quarters of the Hispanic vote.
“[E]thnic voters flexed their muscle and came away with a win. Who would have suspected that African-Americans and Hispanics would have forged a bulletproof alliance?” commented George Barna, who directed the election research.
“But they did this time around, and if Senator Obama fulfills his promise and his promises, then 2008 might have birthed a very significant new voting bloc for the future - one that is already 30 percent of the population and growing."
In terms of the white vote, Obama won slightly more than four out of ten voters in this demographic.
There was a significant difference between born-again voters and those not born again among whites.
White born-again voters chose Republican rival Sen. John McCain by a 73 to 26 percent margin. In comparison, non-born again voters chose Sen. Obama by a 56 to 39 percent margin.
White voters were more likely to say that their voting decision was influenced by candidates’ moral positions and political experiences than other voters.
The Barna Group distinguishes between the term “born again Christians” and “evangelicals.”
A born-again Christian is defined as someone who said they have made a personal commitment to Jesus Christ that is still important in their life today and also believes that when they die they will go to Heaven because they had confessed their sins and had accepted Jesus Christ as their savior.
To qualify to be an evangelical, the Barna survey requires someone to fulfill the born again criteria plus seven other conditions including asserting that the Bible is accurate in all its teachings; believing that salvation is only through grace, not works; and believing that they have a personal responsibility to share their faith about Christ with non-Christians.
Evangelicals, according to the strict Barna definition, only make up seven percent of all American adults.
Looking at the evangelical vote, not much changed between the 2008 election and the 2004 election, according to the Barna survey.
In total, 88 percent of registered evangelicals voted for Republican candidate John McCain, compared to just 11 percent for Sen. Obama. The 88 percent is statistically identical to the 85 percent of evangelicals who backed George W. Bush in 2004.
The primary reason evangelicals cited for supporting their candidate was moral issues (40 percent), then political experience (23 percent), and next, character (15 percent).
Overall, born-again adults were relatively closely split between the two candidates, with 57 percent favoring McCain and 42 percent casting their ballot for Obama.
The 2008 election witnessed a significant decrease in the Republican-Democrat preference gap among born agains compared to 2004. The gap in 2008 was 15 points in favor of Republican McCain while in 2004, there was a 24-point lead in favor of George W. Bush.
Compared to evangelicals, born-again Christians chose their candidate based on different set of criteria. This group was influenced mainly by the candidate’s political experience (20 percent), ideas about the country’s future (18 percent), character (17 percent), and economic policies (17 percent).
Also unlike evangelicals, born-again Christians were surprisingly as likely to be registered Democrats as they were Republicans.
"The born again body continues to lean Republican, but there are warning signs that the cozy relationship has been seriously damaged. Because they are almost half of the voting population, neither party can take the born again universe for granted - or write it off,” Barna commented.
“Both parties are likely to court the born again faithful in hopes of gaining their allegiance next time out. The moderate wing of that body is especially vulnerable,” he said. “Once the Party’s strategists have digested the significance of their losses among the born again contingent, the romancing will begin in earnest."
George Barna observed that Republican rival Sen. John McCain’s strong support among evangelicals was not enough in this election, where voters in general were fatigued about moral issues that in the past were “deal breaks.”
“[T]he election clearly showed that a winning coalition requires more than just evangelical voters,” Barna noted. “George W. Bush rode to victory twice on the backs of the born again population. But Sen. McCain fared relatively poorly among the non-evangelical born again segment and was unable to compensate by replacing them with a large enough group of ideological moderates.”
Obama won McCain 53 to 46 percent to become the president-elect.
The report is based on telephone interviews with a random sample of 1,203 adults across the United States, age 18 and older, Nov. 1-5, 2008.