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Barna Survey's Significance

Where will undecided evangelicals turn?

The most recent Barna survey reveals some crucial insights for understanding the born-again/evangelical electorate. Among born-again Christians, a large swath of the American population, Barna found that 40 percent would support the Democratic candidate in November, with only 29 percent backing the Republican. Another 28 percent are undecided. Clearly these numbers indicate a dramatic departure from the 2000 and 2004 victories for President Bush. It appears many of these evangelicals vote candidate-first, not the party platform, and the President has left a bad taste in their mouth regarding fellow Republicans.

Barna defines evangelicals as a subset of born-again Christians. They hold more strictly to historic evangelical doctrines. They may also hew more closely to platform issues. Evangelical support for the Republican candidate has dropped off (now 45 percent), but they have not yet swung to the Democrat (11 percent).

These trends will be fascinating to watch. Born-again Christians may flock to a candidate such as Obama who speaks openly and eloquently about his faith. And evangelicals may shrink from a candidate such as McCain who isn't so strong on conservative social issues. Keep an eye on these trends, even as the primary tonight sorts things out.

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