Poll: Evangelicals and Mass-Attending Catholics Helped Sweep Democrats from Office

By Penny Starr | November 4, 2010 | 4:17 AM EDT

Ralph Reed, founder and chairman of the Faith and Freedom Coalition, said conservatives of faith were in a large part responsible for the large number of Republicans who were swept into power on Tuesday in the midterm elections. (CNSNew.com/Penny Starr)

(CNSNews.com) – A post-election survey commissioned by the pro-family Faith and Freedom Coalition showed that the largest voting constituency in the midterm elections was conservative Christians.

Their votes helped Republicans gained 61 seats in the House of Representatives on Tuesday.

The poll of 1,000 voters interviewed by telephone on Nov. 2, 2010 showed that white evangelicals, who comprise nearly 30 percent of all voters, voted 78 percent for GOP candidates in the election.

The poll conducted by Public Opinion Strategies and unveiled at the National Press Club on Wednesday also showed that 52 percent of Tea Party supporters describe themselves as born-again evangelical Christians.

Adding to the tide of what coalition founder and Chairman Ralph Reed described as “conservative people of faith” were Mass-attending Catholics, who made up 12 percent of the vote and cast 58 percent of their ballots for Republicans.

According to a CNN exit poll, 40 percent of Catholics cast their vote for Democrats.

Reed noted that the still-evolving pro-life, pro-family movement, which he said includes many Tea Party activists, reflects voters whose world view is guided by their Christian faith.

“They’re believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, and that faith covers every area of their lives – cultural, moral, fiscal, business,” Reed said. “They don’t disaggregate like that. Their worldview is the prism through which they view every issue.”

Reed said that includes decisions made at the ballot box: “They’re concerned about values, and they’re concerned about the economic issues,” Reed said. “They’re pro-life, and they’re for lower taxes, and they’re for limited government, and they’re for individual freedom.

“So, I think to try to disaggregate these voters’ concerns shows a lack of understanding of how comprehensive their worldview is,” Reed said.

When CNSNews.com asked what the priorities should be for the Republicans, Reed said they should cut federal spending and repeal the Obama health care law “because that’s not just a fiscal issue, it’s also a moral issue.” He said the Obama health care plan, if it is not repealed, "will lead to unrestrained taxpayer funding of abortion.”

Reed also said the poll should send a signal to the GOP that it should not distance itself from those voters who helped elect party members across the country.

The survey showed that among voters who care about the issue of abortion, 77 percent voted for Republicans, while only 20 percent voted against them.

“This is a huge asset to the party,” Reed said. “And my advice to the Republican Party, hopefully not totally unsolicited, would be stop apologizing for being pro-life and pro-family.”

“This is helping you at the ballot box, not hurting you,” Reed said. “And you should speak proudly of your pro-life and pro-family convictions.”

"One thing is clear from this election: the Tea Party movement was a mixed blessing for the Republican Party,” Robert Jones, CEO of the Public Religion Research Center, said in an election analysis posted on Faith in Public Life’s Web site.

“This group, which represents about 1-in-10 Americans in the general population, has captured some of the enthusiasm, and part of the membership, of one of the key groups typically rallying the Republican base, the Christian Right," he added.

"The Tea Party was especially effective in low-turnout primaries and elections where the electorate more closely reflected their own demographics – older, more white, more conservative,” Jones said. “Their enthusiasm certainly helped with turnout on the Republican side and in picking up seats in the House.”

“On the other hand, the Tea Party hurt GOP chances in the Senate by backing several candidates who faced an uphill climb appealing to mainstream voters in state-wide elections,” Jones said.

The Faith and Freedom Coalition poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.