Religion in the 2010 Elections: A Preliminary Look

Two of the largest religious groups in the electorate followed the same basic voting patterns in the 2010 elections for the U.S. House of Representatives as they have in prior elections: white Protestants voted overwhelmingly Republican and religiously unaffiliated voters cast their ballots overwhelmingly for Democrats. But Catholic voters, who had favored Democratic over Republican candidates by double-digit margins in the last two congressional elections, swung to the GOP in 2010. And within all three of these major religious groups, support for the Republican Party rose this year compared with 2006, matching or exceeding their levels of support for the GOP in any recent election. Republican gains among religious groups parallel the party's broad-based gains among the overall electorate and white voters in particular.

Analysis by the Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion & Public Life of National Election Pool (NEP) exit poll data reported by CNN shows that white Protestants,1 a group that has long been one of the key components of the GOP coalition, voted for Republicans over Democrats in their congressional districts by a 69%-29% margin. This marks an increase of 6 points in Republicans' share of the white Protestant vote compared with 2008, and an 8-point gain for Republicans compared with the last midterm election in 2006.

Read the full report Religion in the 2010 Elections: A Preliminary Look on the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life's Web site.

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