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While evangelical leaders have long protested that evangelicalism is politically diverse and is a theological identifier rather than a political one, it appears that evangelicals are more politically unified than ever before. But in most results from last night's elections: where evangelicals were largely unified, they also lost.

We know less about evangelical voters this year than we did four years ago because exit polls did not ask as many voters about being a "born again or evangelical" Christian. According to pre-election polls, white evangelicals backed Romney by nearly a four-to-one margin. Romney received a larger slice of the evangelical vote than any previous Republican presidential candidate. At nearly 80 percent, evangelical support for Romney was as strong—and perhaps even stronger—than the support Romney received from Mormons.

If further analysis bears such a figure out, it will be a dramatic benchmark in conservative Protestant voting trends. In 1982, exit polls showed an even 50-50 split of self-identified "born again" voters between Republican and Democratic candidates. That shifted to a 2-to-1 split favoring Republicans in the later '80s and throughout the 1990s. Even when some exit polls shifted the question to ask whether voters were "members of the religious right," two-thirds of such respondents supported Republican candidates. In 2004, "born again or evangelical" voters voted 3-to-1 for Bob Dole. In 2008, Democrats rebounded somewhat, with Obama receiving 29 percent of "born again/evangelical" support to John McCain's 71 percent. To put a four-to-one margin in perspective: It's the same percentage of self-identified ...

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November 2012

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