If you’ve picked up a newspaper anytime since the 2004 election, you’ve likely read some breathless write-up of this story: apparently, there are evangelical Christians in this country who aren’t theocratic, homophobic nuts. In fact there are a few who aren’t even conservatives—and the Democrats have noticed.
It being election season again, you’d think the mainstream media would be interested in seeing how this evangelicals-and-Democrats relationship is going. You’d be wrong. After the Iowa caucuses, the nonprofit resource center Faith in Public Life observed that CNN and NBC exit polls asked Republican voters whether they were evangelicals, but they didn’t ask Democrats. When it happened again in New Hampshire, a group of evangelical leaders protested in a letter to the networks.
A couple dozen state primaries later (having seen little improvement in this lopsided polling) Faith in Public Life, along with the Center for American Progress Action Fund, commissioned a post-election poll in Missouri and Tennessee. The poll, released yesterday, includes a variety of questions about religious affiliation, issue priorities, and candidate preferences. One in three white evangelical voters in the two states voted in Democratic primaries. Among all white evangelicals, jobs and the economy far outranked abortion and same-sex marriage as priority issues. And Hillary Clinton had far more support from this group than Barack Obama did.
These provocative findings could add nuance to the old Dems-and-evangelicals narrative—especially if the networks bother to get this sort of information from the rest of the country. Instead, after three years of the same persistent trend piece, they seem to have lost interest altogether.