The religious pollsters, The Barna Group, have issued an analysis of their latest poll.
Barna Group surveys make a spiritual beliefs-based distinction between born again Christians and the subset of born agains who are Evangelical:
The survey explored two important slices of the Christian vote: born again Christians, a group of Americans who accounted for about half of all ballots cast in the 2004 election and the smaller, more socially conservative subset of born agains, labeled as evangelical voters. Evangelicals represent about one-fifth of all born again Christians [or about one out of every 11 voters]. Note that Barna surveys do not classify a person based upon a respondent’s use of the terms “born again” or “evangelical,” instead basing the classification on what a person believes about spiritual matters.
According to Barna, of the 68 registered voters who are born again, 15 million (22%) of those are evangelicals. Further, “Faith affiliation does not neatly follow party lines: about two out of every five registered Democrats are born again voters, while roughly three out of every five Republicans is classified by the Barna team as a born again.” As Revolution in Jesusland observed about the exit polls in Iowa – which did not ask Democrats about their religious affliliation:
The headlines after Iowa proclaimed, “Huckabee helped by Born Agains!” But should there also have been a headline, “Obama edges out Clinton thanks to Born Agains?” We’ll never know. And was Huckabee also helped by union voters? Again, no way to know.
And so the assumptions of the punditocracy go on fulfilling themselves. And we are presented with a picture of a more and more divided America.
David Kinnaman, president of The Barna Group, concludes:
One of the myths about the 2008 election is that the evangelical vote is splintering over issues such as abortion and homosexuality. In fact, when defined based upon a consistent set of theological perspectives, evangelicals remain very united on abortion and homosexuality…. However, concerns about same-sex relationships are less unifying and less troublesome to the broader born again constituency. Born agains are far less concerned about homosexuality than they are about abortion. Protestants and Catholics don’t agree on same-sex concerns. Evangelicals and non-evangelicals differ. Homosexuality remains important for 2008, but the debate is shifting and taking on new dimensions for many people.
Check out the evidence here.