Big White Evangelical Turnout for Midterms

Last night’s results show that pollster Robert Jones was far, far too optimistic about the impact of declining numbers of white evangelicals on Senate races in the South. In an October 17 Atlantic piece, Jones identified five races—Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, and North Carolina—in which those demographic changes could help either keep Senate seats in Democratic hands, or tip Republican-held seats to the Democrats.

2014, Jones wrote,  may be the year that the underlying demographic trends finally exert enough force to make themselves felt.”

I was skeptical, pointing out that turnout and intensity matter more than these numbers. (Religion News Service’s Tobin Grant disputed Jones’ claim that white evangelicals are declining at all.)

Last night, the Republican Senate candidates won in Arkansas (Tom Cotton defeating Democratic incumbent Mark Pryor), Georgia (Republican David Perdue defeating Democrat Michelle Nunn), Kentucky (incumbent Mitch McConnell handily defeating Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes), and North Carolina (Republican challenger Thom Tillis defeating incumbent Democrat Kay Hagan). In Louisiana, Democratic incumbent Mary Landreiu is headed for a run-off.

Preliminary exit polling shows that if Jones is right about overall declining numbers of white Southern evangelicals, they nonetheless turned out in much higher percentages than in Jones’ data, exerting an opposite force from the one Jones predicted.

1. ARKANSAS. In his October 17 Atlantic piece, Jones wrote:

IArkansas, where Republican and freshman Representative Tom Cotton is locked in a tight race with two-term Democratic Senator Mark Pryor, the white evangelical Protestant proportion of the population has dropped from 43 percent to 36 percent.

But preliminary exit polling shows that in Arkansas51% of of the electorate was made up of white evangelicals or born-again Christians; 25% of them went for Pryor (who is himself evangelical) while 73% voted for Cotton.

2. GEORGIA. Jones wrote:

In Georgia, where Democratic candidate Michelle Nunn is battling Republican candidate David Perdue for retiring Senator Saxby Chambliss’s seat, white evangelical Protestants made up 30 percent of the population in 2007 but that number is currently down to 24 percent.

Again, preliminary exit polling from Georgia shows that white evangelicals were an outsized share of the electorate, making up 39% of voters. Just 12% of them went for Nunn, 61% for Perdue.

3. KENTUCKY. Jones:

The proportion of white evangelicals in Kentucky has plunged 11 points, from 43 percent to 32 percent; here Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell faces the Democratic Alison Grimes, the secretary of state.

But according to last night’s preliminary exit polls, in Kentucky52% of electorate were white evangelical or born again Christians. Just 30% of them voted for Grimes, and 68% for McConnell.

4. LOUISIANA. Jones:

In Louisiana, where Republican Representative Bill Cassidy is up against three-term Democrat Mary Landrieu, white evangelicals have slipped from being 24 percent of the population to 19 percent.

In exit polling for Louisiana, where the Senate race is headed for a run-off, pollsters did not ask the “evangelical or not” question. Instead, they categorized all white Protestants into a “white Protestant/other Christian” category; that group comprised 32% of the electorate. Just 14% of them voted for Mary Landreiu, while 21% of them voted for Tea Party favorite Rob Maness and 59% for Republican Bill Cassidy.


Likewise, North Carolina has seen a dip in the white evangelical proportion of its population, from 37 percent to 30 percent; here incumbent Democrat Kay Hagan battles Republican Speaker of the North Carolina House Thom Tillis.

Looking, again, at the preliminary exit poll results for North Carolina, 40% of voters identified as white evangelical or born again; only 16% of them voted for Hagan, and 78% for Tillis, the Republican winner.

As I noted last month, “The religious right spent decades building get-out-the-vote operations and candidate recruitment and training grounds. Those efforts do not vanish with demographic changes, particularly if evangelical turnout is outsized compared to other demographic groups.” That’s why white evangelicals may only make up 32% of the population, as in Kentucky, but make up 52% of the electorate. Turnout matters.



  •' Southwrite says:

    As always it’s not who is eligible to vote, but who actually goes to the polls. Ferguson is a good example of how a white minority can have outsized control of the political process. The south in general is another.

  •' NancyP says:

    Voter suppression also matters. The Republicans and the Supreme Court also have worked hard at increasing obstacles to voting.

  •' Frank6548 says:

    Seems Americans are smarter then we think. Well done country!

  •' phatkhat says:

    Nope. Means they are dumb as a box of rocks, as I have suspected for a long time.

  •' phatkhat says:

    Yes. There was a lot of it here in Arkansas yesterday. Our Supreme Court threw out the voter ID rules as unconstitutional, but the Republican SOS told counties to go ahead and enforce it if they wished. Guess what? They did. This country soooo wants to disenfranchise minority voters. Sigh.

    We now have not one – yes that means ZERO – dems in any state level or higher office in Arkansas. I fear greatly for women’s rights now. Or any rights, for that matter. We are seriously looking to move north, but where can we go that is both secular and affordable? Suggestions, anyone?

  •' phatkhat says:

    Our new state senator touted on her last mailer “Proven Conservative Leader”, “Christian Faith”, “Family Focus”, “Common Sense Solutions”. Of course she has been indicted for tax fraud, and she voted against any measures that would help the working people, but, hey!, she’s “Christian” and for “traditional marriage” and “unborn children”. That’s all it takes to get the inbred hicks here to vote for ya.

    I am no longer proud to be Arkansan. I am deeply ashamed, and it’s time to go.

  •' Frank6548 says:

    I thought so too. Afterall they elected Obama twice.

  •' Frank6548 says:


  •' phatkhat says:

    I wish. Unfortunately, Canada doesn’t have a resident visa for retirees.

  •' Judith Maxfield says:

    Belief may be declining, but we can’t mistake that culture is the lens by which we “see” our particular beliefs. I would guess this more about cultural attitudes, which get confused with religion no matter what. If we bring our cultural attitudes into church, we’re already in trouble. If the clergy is indoctrinated in the same, its even worse. How sad.

  •' Judith Maxfield says:

    Like what you said. However, don’t bother to fight with someone who wants the last word. A quote of POTUS T. Roosevelt is, ” Don’t fight with pigs. You’ll roll in the mud, get dirty, and besides they like it.” BTW: Come and join us on the central coast of CA. Its been called “Middle Earth”. Apparently our percentage of educated residents is off the charts when compared to the national average. The state is totally run by the Demos, not that they are saints, but at least very live and let live.

  •' phatkhat says:

    LOL, Frankie is so predictable!

    I’m sure central coastal California is wonderful. Haven’t been there in about 40 years. Unfortunately, we couldn’t afford to live there. :o( The only place in Cali we can afford is the red part, and that’s no better than Arkansas!

  •' Aravis Tarkheena says:

    Portland Maine.

  •' Andre M says:

    And George W. Bush twice. What’s your point, Frank.

  •' phatkhat says:

    Well, Mainers fell for the same scheme as last time, allowing the Aroostook madmen to re-elect LePage. Though I know along the coast is bluer. Looking at Vermont, too. I do really like Bernie, and supposedly Vermont is the least religious state.

  •' Judith Maxfield says:

    Good Luck. The Maine coast is beautiful. I only mention coastlines because I need to near water. Is a mental thing around seeing an escape route.

  •' Judith Maxfield says:

    Why isn’t ACLA tackling the voter suppression issue? Does anyone here know?

  •' phatkhat says:

    DH is leaning towards Washington, since his kids are there. I love Seattle, so it wouldn’t break my heart, either! There are affordable properties on Zillow, but there is a lot of info to gather – like taxes and so on.

    LOL, I went to a convention in Seattle, and came home raving about it. My secretary, who was a fundy said, “Seattle is a lost city! That’s why you like it!” I couldn’t disagree… except I would call it secular, rather than lost. Didn’t seem lost in any other sense of the word. ;o)

  •' phatkhat says:

    Some of it didn’t surface until election day. Happened here in Arkansas. And they DID call the ACLU hotline. I think ACLU was involved in several lawsuits, including getting the photo ID thing overturned here – even if the SOS didn’t honor the ruling.

  •' phatkhat says:

    Religion and culture are like Ourobouros – always linked in a circular path, head to tail. Religion springs from culture, then influences the culture it sprang from. Wash, rinse, repeat. It’s why deeply cultural practices get intertwined with religion until people think it IS part of religion, even if the scriptures (any brand) never mention it. FGM is a good example of that.

  •' Rev. Dr. Harvey Carr says:

    As someone raised in Mississippi, in college during the Civil Rights battles, I am so shocked at lack on involvement by people of all races. I remember in the 1960’s and 1970’s black churches and organizations organized carpools and rented buses if necessary to make sure nobody had an excuse for not voting. Why is this no longer happening, not only for the people of color, but also for senior citizens who may no longer be able to vote. I now live in Florida and constantly reminded people about early voting which they were able to do even on Saturdays and Sundays, yet yesterday I had someone complain to me that the polls were not open at a time when he could vote (he does not work on weekends and I had specifically told him where to go vote early the week before). 5 or 6 years ago I worked with a health fair at Edward Waters College, a black Methodist college here. As a State of Florida certified person to educate and test for HIV/AIDS, I was assisting with testing. Black students made comments about it being a “queer disease.” While trying to explain it being rampant in the black straight community in Jacksonville, one noticed some cards that had a rainbow in the design and began to argue that represented the LGBT people. The cards had nothing to do with LGBT. I asked a group of black college students, probably ages 18 – 21, if they knew about the Rainbow Coalition and they had never heard of it. They had no idea who I was referring to when I asked if they knew Jesse Jackson. The only thing they knew about the Civil Rights movement that helped assure them they could even be on that campus was Martin Luther King. The local JTA terminal is named for Rosa Parks and when I asked what they knew about her, they did not even know her story. I located the Dean of Students and expressed my alarm, that I – a white minister who had marched for their rights, who had fought for their equality, who had actually fled the Deep South at the age of 19 because of racism – had witnessed a generation of black people who knew nothing of their history or the battles fought for them. She shook her head and said that sadly it was true and most of them had been taught nothing about it by their families. So, why should they go vote if they have no idea the struggles, the history, the battles fought to grant them the rights to vote, hold jobs they may want, or even attend the college or university they select?

  •' RepublicRAT says:

    An Oregon federal judge ( appointed by Bill Clinton) just ruled that Secular Humanism is a religion for Establishment Clause purposes ruling that a Secular Humanist in prison can have all the religious rights of all OTHER religions. Case No.: 3:14-cv-00565-HA, American Humanist Association v U.S.

    So all you religion haters must realize that what happened was that the Secular Religion voters didn’t show up and the Christians did. The Secular Religion lost and the Fascist Religion (Republicans) won, as duped Christians voted for their own enslavement by multi-national corporations.

    What fun to watch. I do so hope for gridlock with Obama using his veto pen. Political war will be fun to watch. I am really enjoying this. The Secularists are squirming like rats in a trap with the Hobby Lobby ruling followed by this Democrat blood bath as these two religions remain at war. I wonder when it will come to real physical conflict?

    And now with the Courts saying Secularism is a religion will it not be fun when Christians with money start suing to get the Religion of Secularism out of the government and schools like the Secularists got the Christians out?

    I wonder what will fill the void since there is now no difference between secularism and any other religion that must be kept out of government and schools? What fun. So exciting.

    Watching these Democrats on Tuesday night was like looking at the fans in a football game that just watched their team lose when the opposing team scored 21 points in the final 5 minutes to pull of the upset.

    I mean does it get much more fun than this? Watching these people suffer. These people that have worked actively to steal the liberty of my children and grandchildren and enslave them in Socialism? Now if I can just watch the Republicans’ demise. God is great! He is answering my prayers. At least that is how I see it. What fun!

  •' Jim Reed says:

    It is depressing. Now we have to spend the next 2 years surrounded by all these Republicans in government. Hopefully they only ruin our lives and don’t start any wars. Then what happens in 2 years? Maybe when things get bad enough people of all races will start to wake up.

  •' George M Melby says:

    Stay the hell away from Kansas as long as we have Governor Brownsh… I mean, Borwnback, AG Krissy Kobitch, oops, Kobach, and Patricia Roberts in power! The again, c’mon up. We need to beat these Teapublican bastards really bad!

  •' George M Melby says:

    MAINE is a beautiful State also! But they need help to rid the State of river rat Teapublicans, like other backward States!

  •' George M Melby says:

    I don’t know if Vermonters are less religious, but they tend to walk the talk quietly, than to parade their prayers and religious verbal vomit so all can get sick!

  •' George M Melby says:

    Canada would be great, but they are already ‘with the program.’ They’ve had marriage equality and huge church support for years! Better not do that, Franky. You’ll have a lot of work ahead of you, lolol. And it’s better to stay here and fix the broken pogrom of the Teapublicans… we have to clean up the mierda messes they leave behind in two years anyway!

  •' George M Melby says:

    If only you could join the smart ones, SFBs!

  •' George M Melby says:

    The only point Franksome has is the top of his head wrapped in tin foil. Ohhh, for a lightning storm!!!

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