Politics

Hispanic Voters Divided by Religion

Catholics and those who attend church less often are most supportive of Obama

PRINCETON, NJ -- Taken as a group, Hispanic voters solidly support Barack Obama over John McCain for president, but there is a significant difference in the Hispanic vote by religion. Catholic Hispanics support Obama by a 39-point margin, while Hispanics who are Protestant or who identify with some other non-Catholic Christian faith support Obama by a much smaller 10-point margin.

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An examination of interviews with registered voters conducted between Oct. 1 and Oct. 19 shows Obama leading among all Hispanic registered voters by a 62% to 30% margin. (For purposes of this analysis, Hispanics are those who say "yes" when asked "Are you, yourself, of Hispanic origin or descent such as Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, or some other Spanish background?")

Catholic Hispanics, who make up 50% of all Hispanic registered voters in this October sample, support Obama by a substantial 65% to 26% margin. But the one-third of Hispanics who identify their religion as Protestant or another non-Catholic Christian faith support Obama by only 51% to 41%.

There is also a significant difference in presidential candidate choice among Hispanics by religiosity. Hispanic voters who attend church weekly support Obama by a 51% to 40% margin, compared to a 57% to 33% margin among those who attend nearly every week or monthly, and an overwhelming 72% to 21% margin among those who seldom or never attend church.

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These patterns of candidate support by religious identity and religious service attendance reflect the same patterns evident in the general population. Among all voters, Protestants and non-Catholic Christians are more likely than Catholics to support McCain over Obama, as are voters who attend church most frequently.

Bottom Line

Hispanic voters in the United States today represent a diverse group of individuals who share a common, although in some instances distant, Spanish heritage. Not only are there geographic differences and distinctions based on country of origin within the Hispanic electorate, but there are differences based on religion as well. Among Hispanic registered voters Gallup has interviewed in October, about half are Catholic, with a third being some other non-Catholic Christian religion (and the rest either having no religious identity or identifying with a non-Christian religion). This religious identity makes a difference. Catholic Hispanics are more supportive of Obama, while non-Catholic Christians are much more symmetrical in their support patterns, although still tilting toward Obama. Additionally, as is true in the general population, Hispanics who are most religious are most supportive of McCain, while Obama garners his greatest support among Hispanics who attend church services least often.

Survey Methods

Results are based on telephone interviews with 836 Hispanic registered voters, aged 18 and older, conducted Oct. 1-19, 2008. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points.

Interviews are conducted with respondents on land-line telephones (for respondents with a land-line telephone) and cellular phones (for respondents who are cell-phone only).

In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

Gallup http://www.gallup.com/poll/111301/Hispanic-Voters-Divided-Religion.aspx)Looks Gallup World Headquarters, 901 F Street, Washington, D.C., 20001, U.S.A +1 202.715.3030