VENTURA, Calif. (BP)–If the turnout for the 2008 presidential election is anything like that of 2000 and 2004, born again voters will cast roughly half of all ballots, The Barna Group predicts.
“Born again Christians should not be underestimated. They represent half of Republican voters, two-fifths of registered Democrats, and one-third of independent voters,” David Kinnaman, the researcher who directed the study for Barna, said in a March 5 news release. “As the presidential primaries gear up and both parties try to attract the broadest group of voters, it will be to their benefit not to alienate the diverse Christian segment.”
By examining 32 measures of religious commitment, belief and activity, Barna found that while Republicans continue to attract the most born-again Christian voters, Democrats are gaining ground. Republicans attract a disproportionate share of evangelicals, Barna found, and Democrats are much more likely to attract other religions.
“While one out of 14 Republicans is aligned with a religious belief system other than Christianity, the same is true for one out of every five Democrats,” Barna said. “Among the non-Christians within the Democratic Party, two-thirds are atheists and agnostics.”
But as presidential candidates pander to the evangelical voting bloc, Kinnaman warned that their attempts at appearing religious are easily identified.
“Keep in mind that many Christian voters are increasingly skeptical of being played for political purposes,” Kinnaman said. “Appealing to them must go beyond simply saying the right combination of messages or getting them to show up at the polls, but instead should genuinely connect with their perspectives and principles.”