Barack Obama has courted white weekly churchgoers as avidly as any Republican-leaning bloc of voters, though it now appears his efforts may fall flat on Election Day.
The Gallup Poll now shows Obama backed by 28 percent of white voters who attend church at least once a week — a group that makes up a roughly a third of all voters — which would be no improvement from the 29 percent of these voters who, according to exit polls, backed Democrats John Kerry and Al Gore in the previous two presidential election.
“There has been remarkably little change among whites in the religion gap,” said John Green, of the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life and a top specialist on the convergence of religion and politics.
No Democratic nominee in the modern day has made more of an effort to court religious voters than Obama. Jimmy Carter, a Southern evangelical, was the last Democrat to narrowly contest weekly church-going voters in a two-man race. But where Carter attempted to deemphasize his faith in the 1976 campaign, Obama has repeatedly returned to his faith to narrow the so-called God gap that has dogged Democrats for decades.
What I suspect–although I can’t prove it–is that although he hasn’t made any dent in those Caucasians whose commitment level to Christianity is substantial, he’s probably made some headway with those who are best characterised as “Cultural Christians.” This shrinking group of people probably derive some comfort from Obama’s religiosity. So his appeal, from the standpoint of his campaign, isn’t entirely a waste.
As the article points out, however, Obama’s problem with committed Christians is that he is not in sync with them on the issues that matter to them, specifically abortion. That’s a good sign that some of us at least are still paying attention to the issues rather than the hype.
And, I suspect, that these statistics would not be lost on an Obama administration, which would probably not treat committed Christians any better than it did the three reporters it booted off of its campaign plane because their employers had the bad taste to endorse John McCain.