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Polls: Bush states, Gore states divided over faith, key issues

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–A deep divide exists between states George Bush carried in the 2000 election and those Al Gore carried, according to an O’Leary Report/Zogby International poll released Jan. 6.

The 2004 president race promises to be “very contentious,” a Zogby news release noted, adding that “George W. Bush and his Democratic challenger will be campaigning in two different, yet parallel universes.”

The poll used a color-coded methodology identifying states that Bush carried as “Red States” and those Gore carried as “Blue States.”

On religion, for example, the Zogby news released reported:

“Fifty-seven percent of Red State voters are Protestants, 23% are Catholic, and 1% are Jewish. In Blue America, the religious demographics are vastly different: Protestant, 37%; Catholic, 33%; Jewish just 4%.

“When respondents were asked how they practiced their faith, just over half (51%) of Red State voters said that they attend their local church, synagogue, or mosque either once a week or more often, while a near-majority (46%) of those residing in the Blue States said they attend religious services only on holidays, rarely, or never.”

Meanwhile, a poll by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, also released Jan. 6, noted a divide in how the two political parties are viewed.

“The Republican Party is more widely viewed as being friendly toward religion than the Democrats, and the margin is much wider among whites,” a Pew news release carried over U.S. Newswire reported. “By more than two to one, white respondents view the Republican Party as friendly toward religion rather than neutral (58 percent vs. 26 percent), while just 7 percent think the GOP is unfriendly toward religion.

“Whites are divided in their perceptions of the Democratic Party’s attitudes toward religion (41 percent friendly, 37 percent neutral, 13 percent unfriendly),” the Pew news release continued. “By comparison, African Americans are nearly twice as likely to say that the Democratic Party is friendly toward religion as to say that about the Republicans (53 percent vs. 27 percent).”

The Zogby poll was commissioned by the O’Leary report published by political analyst Bradley S. O’Leary. Zogby International, based in Utica, N.Y., surveyed 1,200 likely voters from Dec. 15-19 on various issues, including abortion, same-sex “marriage,” religion, tax cuts, Social Security reform and gun rights.


The poll found that voter opinions “on the political, economic, and social values espoused by former president Bill Clinton and his wife, Senator Hillary Clinton further underscore the divisions between Red and Blue States. A solid majority of Red State voters reject the Clinton’s values (56%) while 34% agree. Blue State voters are split with 45% responding favorable to the Clinton’s values and 47% disagreeing.”

On the issue of civil unions and the definition of marriage, the Zogby news release reported:

“Seventy percent of Red State voters side with the proposition that marriage should be confined to a man and a woman. Only 25% support the idea of civil unions. Conversely, Blue State voters are much more divided, with 42% supporting civil unions, while 55% support marriage restrictions.”

On family life:

“Nearly two-thirds (64%) of those living in the Red States are married as opposed to 56% in the Blue States. Meanwhile, one in ten (10%) voters in the Red States are single; in the Blue States, one in five (20%).”

Describing the Red-Blue states, the Zogby news release noted:

“In general terms, Gore won the Pacific Coast states, New Mexico, the Great Lakes States, and all of the Northeast except New Hampshire. Bush won every other state.”

Bush carried 30 states in 2000: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming.

Gore’s 20 states were California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Delaware, Iowa, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington and Wisconsin. Gore also carried the District of Columbia.

The Zogby poll also reflected significant splits on such issues as the legitimacy of Bush’s election in 2000; voters’ political party preferences and self-perceptions such as “progressive” or “conservative”; and gun ownership. Also included in the survey were age, ethnicity, educational level and union membership.


John Zogby, president and CEO of Zogby International, said in an Internet chat hosted by The Washington Post, “I think that any Democrat starts the campaign with 45 percent of the vote. It is sort of like the SAT exams where you get 200 just for showing up on Saturday morning. Now obviously there will be a campaign and things that cannot be foreseen — issues of termperament, events not previously foreseen — but I think this is a 50/50 president in a 50/50 nation.”

Zogby likened the 2004 presidential race to the 1796 campaign between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, with “each side predicting the end of the world if the other side won. We are extremely and intensely polarized. … There is a cultural and ideological divide. There is a split on church attendance where the Red States differ from the Blue States [and on] gun ownership, with the Red States different from the Blue States, etc. What I don’t see is a Ronald Reagan, a Jack Kennedy an FDR or even a Bill Clinton who attempts to build bridges. I think it [is] troubling.”

On the value of such polling, Zogby stated that “even Americans who complain the loudest about the polls still want to have some idea where they themselves fit in. They want to have some idea if they are in the majority, where their candidate stands today. These have no value as predictive tools today, but they certainly give an idea of where the public and the candidate stand and I think more people want to see that than don’t want to see it.”

In a Washington Times article, Zogby said the poll’s methodology included a focus on groupings of voters who share the same social and economic interests and who “deliver money, votes and volunteers in the presidential election and live within the Blue and Red states.”

“The poll is an attempt to get at the core of this division” between the key groupings, Zogby told The Times. “We see significant demographic and ideological differences between … Blue and Red states. The Blue States have fewer Republicans, 55- to 69-year-olds (the most conservative age group), rural dwellers, conservatives, born-again Christians, daily or weekly attendees at a place of worship, local sports fans, gun owners, investors, military veterans and married voters.

“These differences portend a harder sell for Republican candidates [in Blue States],” Zogby said. “On the other hand, Red States have fewer younger voters, single voters, college graduates, liberals, Catholics and Jews, union members, and non-prayers.

“In short, the two regions think and vote differently because they are different,” Zogby said.


The poll by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, meanwhile, was based on a nationwide survey of 2,002 adults conducted from June 24-July 8 of last year.

“… [R]elatively few Americans express concern about the use of religious rhetoric by political leaders,” the Pew news release noted Jan. 6. “In fact, nearly twice as many say there has been too little reference to religious faith and prayer by politicians (41 percent) than say there has been too much (21 percent).”

Most Americans — 57 percent — see it as proper “for journalists to ask politicians how their religious beliefs affect their opinions on issues of the day,” the Pew news release noted. “Roughly four in ten (39 percent) disagree, but about half of those who object (20 percent of the overall sample) say it is okay for journalists to inquire about a politician’s religious beliefs if the politician raises the issue first.”

The Pew news released noted, however: “For the most part, people say religion does not frequently affect their voting decisions. Nearly six in ten (58 percent) say their religious beliefs seldom if ever affect their voting decisions, while 38 percent say their vote choices are at least occasionally affected by their beliefs. White evangelicals and African-American Protestants are most likely to report that their religion shapes their votes at least occasionally, while white mainline Protestants and Catholics mostly say that religion has little or no impact on their votes.”

Concerning President Bush in particular, the Pew news release noted that he “receives particularly positive ratings for speaking so openly about his faith. Most (62 percent) say the president mentions his religious faith the right amount with only a minority saying he does this too much (14 percent) or too little (11 percent).

“This same sentiment carries over to religion’s influence on the president’s policymaking as well. Overall, six in ten Americans say the president relies a great deal (20 percent) or a fair amount (40 percent) on his own religious beliefs in making policy decisions. Roughly three-quarters of those who believe this say the influence of religion on the president’s policy decisions is appropriate. Just 22 percent of those who see Bush influenced a great deal by his religion say it is inappropriate.

“If anything,” the Pew release stated, “there is more criticism of the president for taking his faith into account too little, rather than too much. While most (58 percent) say the president relies on his faith the right amount, twice as many (21 percent) would like to see religion play a larger role in the president’s policymaking as see it as excessive (10 percent).”