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Obama's White Evangelical Outreaching

4:49 PM, Nov 6, 2008 • By TERRY EASTLAND
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From what's known so far, the Obama campaign's outreach to white evangelicals appears to have helped. Obama strategists never thought that Obama would win a majority of evangelical voters in any state, and he didn't. But Obama aides had their eyes on certain states they aimed to contest, and they hoped to reduce McCain's margin of victory among evangelicals in those states by enough percentage points as to boost Obama's chances of winning them. And there's evidence they had some success.

Colorado evangelical voters went 76-to-23 for McCain; in 2004 they went 86-to-13 for Bush. There's a swing of 10 points in a state Obama won and John Kerry lost. I'll not go through all the detail, but (using MSNBC data for the most part) here are some ot her notable bottom lines: In Ohio, McCain won five percentage points fewer than did Bush; in Indiana, it was eight points; and in North Carolina, it was nine. Those, of course, were Bush states in 2004, and Obama won all of them. In Missouri, a Bush state that went for McCain, Obama did six percentage points better than Kerry. That helps explain why he almost did win the Show-Me state.

There's not yet comparable data for Florida and Virginia, two states Bush won four years ago but which went for Obama.

It's worth bearing in mind that there are many reasons that people vote, and it would be silly to suppose that large numbers of evangelicals or of any other religious cohort simply vote their religion. On the other hand, it would be odd to think that the Democratic strategy of running a faith-friendly candidate willing to show up in places like Rick Warren's Saddleback Church had no impact on at least some evangelical voters. Expect Obama to keep up this outreaching as he organizes his administration. 2012 will arrive soon.