And the religious impact was…

…not all that great.

green.jpgI just got off a conference call with the Pew Forum’s John Green, the man on the intersection of faith and politics. He spent the night poring through the exit polls.

Let’s just say that the ’08 race will not be remembered like the ’04 race, when evangelicals were credited with lifting George Bush on their shoulders and carrying him to victory.

This time around, there were no major religious swings. But most religious groups moved somewhat to the left.

Last time, Bush won Catholics 52% to 47%. This time, Obama took Catholics 54-45.

But McCain held white Catholics 52-47. Obama’s big gains were with Hispanic Catholics and black Catholics — whose votes may not have been driven by the faith factor.

Evangelicals held steady.

In 04, Bush won 78% of the white evangelical vote. This time, Obama pushed hard to make inroads among evangelicals. But he did only 4% better than John Kerry.

Ethnicity appears to have played a bigger role than religion, Green conceded (as a “religion guy,” he’s looking at things through a religion lens).

Black support for the Democrat went from 88% in 04 to 95% in 08. Hispanics went from 53% Dem in 04 to 66% Dem in 08.

Asians went from 56% Dem in 04 to 61% Dem on 08.

Religiously unaffiliated folks, who went 67% for Kerry, went 75% for Obama.

People who attend a house of worship weekly or more went 55% for McCain, down from 61% for Bush in 04.

So most groups, religious and otherwise, with liberal or moderate leanings increased their Democratic support.

And white evangelicals and Catholics — two large traditional groups — moved just a couple of tentative steps to the left.

The ’08 race was not about religion, it seems.

Relax, it’s almost over

Here’s an election round-up for you:

horseracelarge1.gif* The Pew Research Center says that support for Obama is rising fast among white (non-Hispanic) Catholics — “taking him from a 13-percentage-point deficit in late September to an 8-point lead in late October. ”

* The Pew folks also say that McCain continues to be far ahead with white evangelicals, Obama is soaring with black Protestants and doing well with the religiously unaffiliated, and that white mainline Protestants are just about split.

* The Pew Forum’s John Green, the man on religion and politics, will hold a conference call with reporters to analyze the election at MIDNIGHT on Tuesday (you know, 12 a.m. on Wednesday). That’s dedication.

* Warren Cole Smith, editor and publisher of Evangelical Press News Service, writes that he got an email from Mike Huckabee that asks for $10 for Huck’s PAC in exchange for a “HUCK” bumper sticker. Has ‘ol Huck started his campaign for 2012 because he believes McCain has lost, Smith wonders (Smith thinks that Huckabee has gotten ahead of himself, as McCain lives).

* Beliefnet’s Steven Waldman offers his “Ten Faith Factors for Election Night,” which I’ll list here (for his full analysis, go there):

How Many Obamagelicals Are There?

Will Palin Turn Out the “Religious Right”?

Do Midwestern Evangelicals Split With Their Brethren?

Will Catholics Ignore Their Bishops?

Can Obama Finally Bowl a Strike With Skeptical White Catholics?

Will Whitebread Protestants Back the Black Guy?

Will Latino Protestants Vote Their Values or the Pocketbook?

How Will the Kinda-Sorta Religious Vote?

Will Jews Schlep to Republican Side?

Will the GOP Become the ROP?

Religion getting squeezed out of the race

Isn’t it funny how religion kind of evaporated from the presidential race?

Obama and Clinton are both pretty devout mainline Protestants who don’t have many faith-based issues to tussle over.

tjndc5-5ixmz92nge01ka1765e0_layout.jpgAnd John McCain isn’t all that interested in talking about religion. He will, of course, as he tries to rev up the GOP’s evangelical base. But he’s not too good at it.

In fact, Columbia prof Randall Balmer has written an hysterical piece about McCain’s earlier confusion over whether he is an Episcopalian or a Baptist.

Balmer, an Episcopal priest (whose new book is God in the White House: A History) walks McCain through the differences. One example:

If the pews are filled, you’re probably in a Baptist church. Sadly, if there are a lot of empty seats and a lot of grey hair, it’s likely you stumbled into an Episcopal church.

I did come across an interesting interview with John Green, the maven of religion and politics, about why McCain may need to win over evangelicals. Among other things, he says:

White evangelicals have been a very strong Republican constituency – the exit polls in the 2004 general election showed that 78% of white, born-again Protestants voted for George W. Bush. Thus, in that very close election, evangelicals were quite important to Bush. And if the 2008 election is close, they would be as important to the Republican nominee. McCain may have some trouble achieving that level of support from white evangelicals given that a majority of them preferred other candidates in the primaries. In addition, many of the leaders of the Christian right have been hostile to McCain.

(Photo: AP/Gerald Herbert)