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Churchgoers less likely to support Giuliani

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Republican voters who attend church weekly are significantly less likely to support Rudy Giuliani for president than are non-churchgoers, according to an aggregate of USA Today/Gallup polls.

Although the former New York mayor leads U.S. Sen. John McCain among all categories, his lead is only seven points (31-24) among weekly churchgoers, compared to 28 points (47-19) among those who attend church nearly weekly or monthly, and 27 points (49-22) among those who seldom or never attend church. Weekly churchgoers also are more likely to support other candidates considered more conservative than Giuliani.

The data, released March 15, combined two polls of Republican voters and Republican-leaning independents — one conducted Feb. 9-11, the other March 2-4. Both were conducted before the media began focusing on comments from Southern Baptist ethicist Richard Land and other evangelical leaders about Giuliani’s personal life and social positions. Giuliani is on his third marriage and supports both abortion rights and homosexual civil unions.

“It is clear that Rudy Giuliani in fact does receive a lower percentage of the vote from highly religious Republicans than he does among those who attend church less frequently,” Gallup’s Frank Newport wrote in an online analysis.

Four candidates who are considered more conservative than Giuliani — McCain (24 percent), Newt Gingrich (13), Mitt Romney (7) and Sam Brownback (4) — receive a combined 48 percent support from weekly churchgoers. By contrast, those four receive a combined 32 percent support from Republicans who attend church nearly weekly or monthly, and 35 percent from those who seldom or never attend church.

“The relationship between religious intensity and support for presidential candidates has been a significant factor in recent elections, mainly among Republicans,” Newport wrote. “John McCain’s poor showing among religious voters contributed to his defeat in the 2000 South Carolina Republican primary, and ultimately derailed his chances of winning the GOP nomination. George W. Bush’s success in winning the presidency in 2000 and 2004 was in part predicated on a campaign strategy of increasing turnout among the religious Republican right.”

Gallup also looked at the relationship between church attendance among Democratic voters and support for various candidates but found little difference.

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  • Michael Foust