WASHINGTON (BP) — Republican nominee Mitt Romney won a larger percentage of the evangelical vote than did John McCain in 2008 and even equaled that of George W. Bush’s 2004 percentage, according to an exit poll data analysis by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life.
Romney received 79 percent of the white born-again/evangelical vote to McCain’s 73 percent. President Obama, meanwhile, won 20 percent of that group this year compared to 26 percent in 2008. President Bush received 79 percent of support from white born-again/evangelical voters in 2004. The public exit poll data does not list how evangelicals of all races voted.
All total, whites who identify as born-again/evangelical comprised 26 percent of all voters — the same as 2008.
It is not yet known, though, if the same number of evangelicals, in raw numbers, voted for Romney as they did for McCain, as has been discussed on social media. As of Thursday, Romney received about 2.1 million fewer votes than did McCain, but an unknown number of votes have yet to be counted. For instance, in 2008, McCain gained 4 million votes in his total after Election Day. Still, voter turnout across the board appeared to be down this year compared to 2008.
But when looking at the contest state by state, the percentage of white evangelicals — who propelled Bush to victories in 2000 and 2004 — was down in some swing states and up in others, according to exit polling data by the Washington Post. For instance:
— Virginia: 23 percent of voters there this year were white evangelicals, compared to 28 percent in 2008.
— Ohio: 31 percent this year, 30 percent in 2008.
— North Carolina: 35 percent this year, 44 percent in 2008.
— Florida: 24 percent this year and in 2008.
— Iowa: 38 percent this year, 31 percent in 2008.
Of those states, Romney won the electoral votes only in North Carolina even though he won the evangelical vote handily in all five.
Pew’s analysis also found that:
— 95 percent of black Protestants supported Obama, compared to 94 percent in 2008.
— Obama edged Romney among Catholics, 50-48 percent, although there was a big divide among racial groups. Obama won Hispanic Catholics, 75-21 percent, while Romney won white Catholics, 59-40 percent.
— Jewish voters supported Obama, 69-30 percent.
Michael Foust is associate editor of Baptist Press. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress ) and in your email ( baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).