02/10/2009 - Some of the nation's leading journalists gathered in Key West, Fla., in December 2008 for the Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion and Public Life's biannual Faith Angle Conference to look at the impact of religious voters in the 2008 election.
John Green, a senior fellow in religion and American politics at the Pew Forum, discussed how a small change overall in voting behavior among religious groups had a big impact at the ballot box. Green said that the Democrats and Barack Obama made their largest gains among minority religious groups but that Obama made only modest gains among white Christian groups. Although these shifts were enough to put Obama in the White House, they did not change the overall structure of the faith-based vote compared with 2004.
Anna Greenberg, senior vice president for Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, said that Obama's faith was the main religious narrative of the campaign. But that debate wasn't necessarily about religion itself, she said, but a stand-in for a conversation about Obama—who he was, where he came from, what values he represented. Another ongoing theme was whether Obama could win votes among the more-conservative religious groups. Greenberg cited polling data showing that younger evangelicals were more likely to support Obama than older evangelicals and that the under-30 set was more progressive on the issues of climate change and gay marriage.
John Green, Senior Fellow in Religion and American Politics, Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life
Anna Greenberg, Senior Vice President, Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research
Michael Cromartie, Vice President, Ethics and Public Policy Center; Senior Advisor, Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life
Read the full transcript A Look at Religious Voters in the 2008 Election, including follow-up discussion, on the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life's Web site.