There is a lot of polling talk about the votes of Catholics, Jews, Evangelicals, Mormons, Protestants and just about any other religious affiliation. Polls have been testing the effect of one’s religion on their voting preference. And then there’s the always present conversation about President Obama being a Muslim. And let me set the record straight now for Madonna and the other 17% who think he’s Muslim, he is Christian. I assume just about everyone knows that Mitt Romney is a Mormon. And 18% of voters say they won’t vote for a Mormon for president. Polls attempt to find what effect the voter’s religion or faith has on his or her potential vote.
A recent article in Voices of Russia attempted to answer this question. Even journalists, as far away as Moscow, are curious about our presidential election and the impact of faith on it. In the Russian article for which I was interviewed, I refer readers to a September, 2012 Pew study on faith. For the first time since the question of faith has been polled dating back to 1957, American voters by 67% believe that faith has less of an impact on a voter’s decision. It’s not that religion is less important today.
Religion is just one small component to all the other variables facing voters today such as social issues, the economy, health care, education, jobs and a long host of others. The fact that a woman is Catholic does not mean that she will vote for a pro-life candidate. In fact, the opposite may be true. The fact that a voter is a white Evangelical does not mean that he or she is unlikely to vote for a candidate supporting gay marriage. Many southern Evangelicals in North Carolina state support for President Obama who supports gay marriage. Right now the presidential race in North Carolina is very close.
Religious views are very tricky when it comes to voter’s choices. Assuming that someone’s religion will be a deciding factor is at a minimum—complicated in the 21st century. For what others said about religion and voting and to read the complete article, see The Voice of Russia article on Religion and Politics.
Washington, DC based Debbie Hines is a former prosecutor and founder of LegalSpeaks, a progressive blog on women and race in law and politics. As a legal and political commentator she has appeared in national, international and local media including the Michael Eric Dyson Show, local NBC, ABC and CBS affiliates, RT TV, CBC- Canadian TV, NPR, XM Sirius radio, Washington Post, Washington Times and Black Enterprise among others. She also contributes articles to the Huffington Post and the Women’s Media Center.