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Obama Attracting More Evangelical Voters

Anything can happen less than two weeks from today, when the American people head to the booths to elect their next president.

And the polls leading up to the historic election are giving no indication otherwise.

The latest survey by the Christian research firm The Barna Group showed Democrat Barack Obama is winning the favor of a larger segment of evangelicals. While the majority still support Republican John McCain (63 percent), 23 percent of evangelicals plan to cast a ballot for Obama – up from 9 percent in May.

Evangelicals are expected to represent 9 percent of voters this November. Born again Christians, however, will likely represent nearly one out of every two votes in the 2008 election.

Among born again Christians, it's a statistical dead-heat with 45 percent planning to vote for McCain and 43 percent, for Obama, the Barna survey released Wednesday found.

In more general national polls, Obama continues to lead among likely voters by a 51 to 44 percent margin, according to the Gallup Poll Daily tracking program.

David Kinnaman, who conducted the Barna Group survey, says that in recent months, Christian community has become more interested in this year's election and are willing to vote – but not necessarily for the Republican ticket.

"[T]he problem for the McCain campaign is that their increased enthusiasm for the election has not translated into support the way it did leading up to 2004. Even conservative evangelical voters – while still solidly in McCain's column – are surprisingly willing to consider Obama's candidacy," Kinnaman commented in the report.

"Anything can happen, but the election is clearly Obama's to lose," he added.

Compared to the last election in 2004, this year's Democratic candidate has sizeable support from faith voters, with 60 percent of monthly worship attendees saying they support Obama, according to The Faith and American Politics Survey. In 2004, less than half (49 percent) of the religious bloc supported Sen. John Kerry.

"If Obama goes on to win, one of the significant stories will be the profile of the faith vote," said Kinnaman. "People will wonder whether he won because of effective outreach by Democrats to the Christian community, ineffective efforts of Republicans, or shifts in the voting priorities of Christians, especially younger believers. Whatever the case, compared to when the names Kerry and Bush were on the ballot, the Democrats are poised to make up significant ground among born again and evangelical voters."

Results from the Barna Group survey are based on interviews conducted Oct. 11-15 with 1,005 adults from across the United States.

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