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Poll: People Care More About Policies than Candidates' Religion

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By Simon Brown

During this election cycle, a lot of candidates have been pandering incessantly to the Religious Right under the assumption that wearing one’s religion on one’s sleeve will mean more votes.

Turns out they’re wrong.

survey conducted by LifeWay Research, which is the research arm of the Southern Baptist Convention, found that just 16 percent of Americans are more likely to vote for a candidate who speaks regularly about his or her religious beliefs.

In fact, religious discussion is a turnoff for many voters. Thirty percent of poll respondents said they were less likely to vote for candidates who flaunt their religious commitments.

This just goes to show how out of touch some politicians really are.  

"Different people get a different picture in their mind when a political candidate shares or shows their religious convictions," said Scott McConnell, director of LifeWay Research. "While some Americans warm up to this, many don't see it as a positive."

The survey also revealed some interesting trends about voting preferences by age and race.

Thirty-seven percent of Americans age 65 and over were the most likely to say a candidate's expressed religious views would have zero influence on their choice of a candidate.

African Americans are the most likely to dislike religious expression by office seekers, with a mere 2 percent saying they would be "more likely to vote for the candidate" who expresses his or her beliefs regularly. Forty-three percent of African Americans said they would be less likely to vote for an outspoken religious candidate, followed by 41 percent of Hispanic Americans who said the same thing.

Respondents who identified as born-again, evangelical or fundamentalist Christian are only 17 percent "more likely to vote for the candidate" espousing religious convictions compared to voters who do not share their beliefs. Similarly, these self-identified conservative Christians are only 16 percent more likely to choose "depends on the religion" when picking a candidate compared to those who do not identify with these beliefs.

The least surprising finding was that nonreligious Americans don’t like overly religious candidates. Sixty-seven percent of respondents who do not attend worship services said a candidate's repeated religious rhetoric would make them "less likely to vote for a candidate." Just 3 percent would be more likely to vote for the candidate.

Every candidate for public office should take a look at this survey because it shows that most Americans, including most conservative Christians, don’t want to be beaten over the head with religious rants from politicians.

Americans definitely favor office seekers who have moral grounding, they just want to get beyond theological discussion and hear what these folks have to say about other matters, like, you know, how they would govern. 


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