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The Stunningly Static White Evangelical Vote

Reed, right, speaks with Rep. Pete Sessions at the 2010 CPAC Conference held by the American Conservative Union in Washington. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

There’s plenty of discussion about the difference between midterm and presidential electorates, but there is one emerging constant: the white evangelical vote.  

At least one interest group, Ralph Reed’s Faith & Freedom Coalition, claimed that conservative Christians played a “decisive role” in the recent midterm elections. But according to the exit polls, white evangelicals made up the same percentage of the electorate and voted nearly the exact same way this year as they did in the two previous elections. In the recent midterm elections, white evangelicals or born-again Christians made up 26 percent of the electorate and voted for Republican candidates 78 percent to 20 percent, according to the National Exit Poll .  

Two years before in the 2012 presidential election , white evangelicals made up 26 percent of the electorate and voted for Republican Mitt Romney 78 percent to 21 percent over President Barack Obama. And in 2010 , white evangelicals made up 25 percent of the electorate and voted for Republican candidates 77 percent to 19 percent.  

Reed’s analysis comes from a post-election survey conducted by Public Opinion Strategies. According to that poll, white evangelicals made up 23 percent of the 2014 electorate, which would actually be a decline of a couple of points, compared to the exit poll. But when comparing exit polls to exit polls, the white evangelical vote has been stunningly static.  

Going further back to 2008, white evangelicals made up 26 percent of the electorate once again, but Obama creeped up to 24 percent of their vote compared to 74 percent for Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.  

The 2006 elections appear to be the outlier for Democrats and white evangelical voters. In those midterms, white evangelicals made up 24 percent of the electorate but voted for GOP candidates by only a 58 percent to 41 percent margin.  

In 2000 and 2004, white evangelicals made up 23 percent of the electorate and voted for George W. Bush with 68 percent and 78 percent . The 2002 exit polls were never released because of fundamental sampling problems.  

Strong base turnout was a key component for Republican candidates nationwide earlier this month, but the exit poll data runs contra to Reed’s narrative that conservative Christians played an oversized role in this year’s midterms.  

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