According to exit polls, evangelicals voted 4-to-1 for Mitt Romney over Barack Obama. That was one of the few religion stories coming out of election night. It was significant in that it was the strongest electoral unity among evangelicals on record.
But questions have remained: Did evangelicals really want to vote for Romney? Were they enthusiastic about the Republican candidate? Or did they vote reluctantly, concerned over Romney's Mormon faith and other issues? Were their votes for him mostly motivated by dislike for Obama?
A new analysis of exit poll data, released today by the Pew Research Center, suggests that not only were evangelicals enthusiastic about Romney, but they were as enthusiastic about his candidacy as they were about John McCain's run in 2008 and George W. Bush's reelection in 2004.
Meanwhile, another poll, released this week by The Barna Group, found slightly less evangelical support for Romney than for McCain or Bush—but found that Romney's Mormonism was not a significant issue for their vote.
They liked him. They really liked him.
According to the Pew Forum's exit poll analysis, 62 percent of evangelicals who voted for Romney said they did so because they strongly favored him. That's a slightly higher percentage than Romney voters overall (60%). And it's more than twice the number of evangelicals who said they voted for Romney "with reservations" (28%, same as Romney supporters overall). Only 9 percent of evangelicals said they voted for Romney as a vote against Obama—slightly lower than the 10 percent of Romney voters overall who said so, but well within the poll's margin of error.
Catholic Romney voters were slightly more enthusiastic ...