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Jan 24, 2012

New Research: Nearly 70% of American Voters Take Religion into Consideration When Voting for a Candidate

One of the underlying themes in the media coverage of the current race for the Republican Presidential nomination has been the religious beliefs of the candidates themselves. But should it be? Do Americans really take issue with a political candidates religious beliefs?

LifeWay Research has just released new findings in which nearly 70 percent of American adults say their votes are impacted, either positively or negatively, by the religious conviction of a candidate. In fact, the research shows that a candidates religion can be more of a detriment to their campaign than a benefit. Nearly twice as many (30%) voters are less likely to vote for a candidate because of the candidate's religion than they are to vote for them (16%). USA Today featured the research in the wake of Newt Gingrich's win in this weekend's South Carolina primary.

When asked, "When a candidate running for office regularly expresses religious conviction or activity, how does that impact your vote?", 16 percent are more likely to vote for a candidate who regularly shares their religious beliefs, 30 percent indicate they would be less likely to vote for a candidate expressing religious activity, and 21 percent of Americans say it would depend on the candidate's religion. 

In fact, just 28 percent say it would have no impact on their choice of candidate.

Some other highlights from the research include:

  • Younger Americans ages 18-29 (24 percent) and ages 30-49 (24 percent) are more likely to select "depends on the religion" of the candidate.
  • Those age 65 and over are the most likely (37 percent) to say a candidate's expression of religious conviction or activity would have no impact on their choice of candidate.
  • Americans who consider themselves to be a born-again, evangelical or fundamentalist Christian are more likely (28 percent vs. 11 percent) to select "more likely to vote for the candidate" expressing religious conviction compared to Americans who do not share their religious beliefs.
  • Similarly, these Christians are more likely to select "depends on the religion" compared to those who do not identify with these beliefs (36 percent vs. 20 percent). 
  • Americans who never attend a place of worship are most likely (67 percent) to say a candidate's expression of religious conviction or activity would make them "less likely to vote for a candidate." Only 3 percent would be more likely to vote for the candidate. 
  • African Americans are most likely to be put off by a candidate's religious expression - just 2 percent say they would be "more likely to vote for the candidate." 
  • Hispanic Americans (41 percent) and African Americans (43 percent) indicate they would be less likely to vote for a candidate expressing religious conviction or activity. 
  • Two-thirds of Americans who never attend a place of worship appear to flee from candidates who repeatedly put their religion in front of them and 4 in 10 Hispanic and African American adults take it as a cue that the candidate is not for them.
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Posted:January 24, 2012 at 12:00 am

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