Conservative Christians are taking credit for the Republican sweep of the U.S. Senate and GOP victories farther down the ticket in Tuesday’s midterm elections, and they predict they will prevail again in 2016.
“This is not only the largest single constituency in the electorate, but it is larger than the African-American vote, the Hispanic vote, the union vote and the gay vote combined,” Ralph Reed, one of the most recognized figures in conservative Christian politics, said Wednesday (Nov. 5) in a celebratory post-election press conference.
Reed, who chairs the Faith & Freedom Coalition, which mobilizes conservative Christian voters across the nation, said politicians in both parties ignore this constituency “at their own peril.”
Reed pointed to a poll commissioned by his group that shows that conservative Christians — Protestants and Catholics — made up 32 percent of the Republican electorate, and that they overwhelmingly voted (86 percent) for Republicans Tuesday. These voters contributed 52 percent of the total votes received by Republicans, according to the Public Opinion Strategies survey, which had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percent.
But some experts pointed out that little has changed in the religious electoral landscape.
Protestant and Catholic voters made up about the same proportion of voters as they did in the last two national elections, and they split their votes between Republicans and Democrats much as they did in 2010 and 2012, said Mark Silk, a professor of religion in public life at Trinity College in Hartford, Conn.
“Simply put, the more things changed, the more they stayed the same,” wrote Silk, who relied on CNN polling, in his post-election blogpost.
In 2010, Protestants voted Republican 59 to 38 percent, and on Tuesday by 60 to 38 percent. Similarly, Catholics went for Republicans 54 to 44 percent in 2010, and 53 to 45 percent this election.
So why did the conservative Christian vote hold so much sway this year?
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SOURCE: Religion News Service