Election 2008

Impact of Religion on Clinton's and Giuliani's Election Chances

Weekly churchgoers less likely than those who attend sometimes or never to support Giuliani for Republican nomination

GALLUP NEWS SERVICE

PRINCETON, NJ -- A Gallup analysis of the relationship between the religiosity of voters and support for nomination front-runners former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and current New York Senator Hillary Clinton finds that religion could play an important but varied role in the presidential primaries and elections. Giuliani's chances of receiving the Republican nomination may be hampered by his weaker performance among highly religious Republicans, who disproportionately say they don't have a candidate to support or swing toward candidates other than Giuliani. Clinton's chances of getting the Democratic nomination, however, are much less affected by religion; there is little relationship between how religious Democrats are and whom they support for their party's nomination.

In a hypothetical general election match-up between Giuliani and Clinton, Giuliani does much better among those who attend church at least monthly than those who do not -- a common pattern for Republican candidates. Among white voters who seldom or never attend church, Clinton defeats Giuliani, primarily the result of variation among independent voters who don't have strong attachments to either candidate. Among black voters, Clinton wins overwhelmingly against Giuliani regardless of the voters' church attendance.

Religion and the 2008 Republican Primaries

Republicans' choices for their party's nominee in the 2008 presidential election are related to how religious they are, operationalized here (and for the remainder of this article) by measuring the frequency of church attendance.

2008 Republican Nomination Ballot by Church Attendance
(Results among Republicans/Republican leaners)
June-July 2007 Aggregate


Total Republicans


Every
week

Almost weekly/ monthly


Seldom/ never

%

%

%

%

Rudy Giuliani

29

24

32

33

Fred Thompson

19

20

21

18

John McCain

17

16

15

18

Mitt Romney

8

8

8

8

Newt Gingrich

7

7

8

6

Mike Huckabee

2

3

2

2

Ron Paul

2

1

*

3

Duncan Hunter

2

1

1

2

Sam Brownback

2

3

2

*

Tommy Thompson

1

2

1

1

Chuck Hagel

1

1

2

*

Tom Tancredo

1

1

1

1

Jim Gilmore

*

*

1

*

 

 

 

 

Other/none/no opinion

10

13

6

9

 

 

 

 

N=

1,204

480

294

420

* Less than 0.5%

Although Giuliani is technically the leader among all groups of Republicans, he fares much better among those who attend church frequently than among those who attend less frequently.

Only 24% of weekly church attenders say they support Giuliani to win the party's nomination next year. This gives Giuliani a small, statistically insignificant lead over former Tennessee Senator Fred Thompson, who has the support of 20% of weekly Republican churchgoers. Sixteen percent of weekly churchgoers support Arizona Senator John McCain, 8% pick former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, and 7% support former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. No other Republican candidate garners more than 3% support among weekly Republican churchgoers.

Giuliani is much more likely to be first choice for the Republican nomination among those who attend church less often, with 32% support among those who attend services almost weekly or monthly and 33% among those who seldom or never go to church. Among both groups, Giuliani owns double-digit leads.

Who gains in lieu of Giuliani among weekly churchgoers? No one particular candidate. There is little difference by church-going in terms of support for the other leading candidates such as McCain, Thompson, and Romney. A slightly higher percentage of weekly Republican churchgoers say they have no preference at this point, and this group is slightly more likely to support various minor candidates.

(Previous Gallup analysis has shown that -- despite their first choice preferences -- a majority of Republican churchgoers say that Giuliani would be an acceptable nominee).

Religion and the 2008 Democratic Primaries

Church attendance does not appear to play nearly as significant a role in Democrats' preferences to win the Democratic nomination as is the case for Republicans.

2008 Democratic Nomination Ballot by Church Attendance
(Results among Democrats/Democratic leaners)
June-July 2007 Aggregate


Total Democrats


Every
week

Almost weekly/ monthly


Seldom/ never

%

%

%

%

Hillary Clinton

35

39

34

32

Barack Obama

22

24

26

20

Al Gore

17

13

13

20

John Edwards

11

10

14

11

Bill Richardson

4

2

3

5

Joe Biden

3

2

4

2

Dennis Kucinich

2

1

1

2

Mike Gravel

1

--

*

1

Christopher Dodd

1

--

1

1

 

 

 

 

Other/none/no opinion

6

8

5

6

 

 

 

 

N=

1,515

364

325

794

* Less than 0.5%

Clinton leads among all three groups of Democrats in the table above by margins of 15, 8, and 12 points. Former Vice President Al Gore does slightly better among those who seldom or never attend church, and Illinois Senator Barack Obama slightly less well -- resulting in Gore and Obama being rated evenly among the infrequent attenders, while Obama has a substantial lead over Gore among respondents who attend at least monthly.

Clinton vs. Giuliani in the 2008 General Election

In a hypothetical general election match-up between Clinton and Giuliani in which voters are asked which of these two they would prefer to vote for in November 2008, an aggregate of more than 3,000 Gallup poll interviews collected during June and July 2007 shows the two candidates tied, 48% to 48%.

Since highly religious Americans today are significantly more likely to be Republicans than Democrats, it is no surprise to find that Americans who attend church at least monthly are much more likely to vote for Giuliani than Clinton. Clinton fares much better among those who seldom or never attend religious services.

It is well-established that blacks in America are both highly religious and highly likely to be Democrats, thus going against the overall trend in the data. Separate analysis shows that within the subgroup of blacks in the aggregate sample, support for Clinton over Giuliani is overwhelming regardless of the frequency of church attendance. Overall, 85% of blacks prefer Clinton, compared with just 10% for Giuliani.

This means that the main source of variation in the relationship between religion and general election candidate choice is among whites. Overall, 54% of whites say they would vote for Giuliani if the election was being held today, while 41% would vote for Clinton. This is testimony in and of itself to the dependence Democrats have on ethnic, non-white voters to win elections.

But white voters are by no means monolithic in their support for Giuliani. White frequent churchgoers are particularly likely to support Giuliani over Clinton. Six in 10 whites who attend church at least monthly pick Giuliani, while only about one-third pick Clinton.

But among that group of whites who seldom or never attend church, it's a different story. Clinton has a slight 3-point advantage over Giuliani among whites who seldom or never go to church, 49% to 46%.

This relationship between religion and choice of candidate occurs for the most part among whites who classify themselves as independents -- who are by definition less likely to be firmly attached to one party or the other's candidate. Among voters who identify as Republicans or Democrats, however, there is substantial party loyalty; the strong majority of both white Republicans and white Democrats -- regardless of how frequently they attend church services -- say they would vote for their party's candidate.

As can be seen in the following table, Clinton does much better among independents who seldom or never go to church than she does among those who attend services at least monthly.

Hypothetical General Election Match-up by Church Attendance and Party ID
(Results among non-Hispanic whites)
June-July 2007 Aggregate

Every
week

Almost weekly/ monthly


Seldom/ never

%

%

%

Republicans

 

 

 

Clinton

7

6

10

Giuliani

91

91

89

N=

380

221

307

 

 

 

Independents

 

 

 

Clinton

34

33

47

Giuliani

56

60

46

N=

281

255

565

 

 

 

Democrats

 

 

 

Clinton

83

69

85

Giuliani

14

26

13

N=

269

209

465

These results suggest that to the extent that religion is a factor in a possible Clinton-Giuliani match-up on Election Day 2008, it would play itself out primarily among independents. Clinton's chances in a close race (and the aggregate being used in this article shows that she and Giuliani at this point would run a very close race) could at least partially be related to her ability to make inroads into the Giuliani-leaning propensities of religious white independents.

Survey Methods

For the results of the aggregate based on the Republican and Democratic nomination trial heats, the results are based on telephone interviews with 3,006 national adults, aged 18 and older, conducted June 11-14, 2007, July 6-8, 2007, and July 12-15, 2007. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ¬Ī2 percentage points.

For results based on the sample of 1,204 Republicans or Republican leaners in this sample, the maximum margin of sampling error is ¬Ī3 percentage points.

For results based on the sample of 1,515 Democrats or Democratic leaners in this sample, the maximum margin of sampling error is ¬Ī3 percentage points.

For the results of the aggregate based on hypothetical general election match-up between Rudy Giuliani and Hillary Clinton, the results are based on telephone interviews with 2,999 national adults, aged 18 and older, conducted June 1-3, 2007, June 11-14, 2007, and July 12-15, 2007. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ¬Ī2 percentage points.

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/28225/Impact-Religion-Clintons-Giulianis-Election-Chances.aspx Gallup World Headquarters, 901 F Street, Washington, D.C., 20001, U.S.A +1 202.715.3030