With the announcement that President Obama was giving his full support to gay marriage, there has been some speculation that he has damaged himself among black voters who oppose gay marriage (55 percent to 42). One Time contributor has said that Obama has made “a courageous bet that black voters won’t punish him.”
Except black voters have not been shown to vote on social issues, but rather on economic issues, particularly those related to poverty and low income.* As discussed previously on this blog when Gallup released their poll on religion and partisanship, the religiosity of black voters has little impact on their partisan voting behaviour, i.e., they will vote for the Democratic candidate regardless of whether they are very religious or non-religious. Indeed, black voters have voted in particularly high numbers for Democratic candidates since FDR, and exit polls in 2000, 2004 and 2008 showed black support for Gore at 90, Kerry at 88, and Obama at 95 percent.
On the other hand, evangelical voters are not wild about Romney - giving him less support (69 percent) than Bush (79) and McCain (73) - however, they support him more than Obama, and his support among evangelicals has increased from 40 percent in October 2011. You can read the results of that survey here.
Despite any distractions about religious voting demographics - whether it is black voters and gay marriage, or evangelicals and Romney - this election will turn on what is has turned since the Republican nomination began last year, and that is, the economy and the voter’s perception of it.
* I think some clarification is in order here. Voters at the lower end of the income spectrum make decisions based primarily on their economic situation. Since many black voters are unfortunately at the lower end of the income spectrum, their decisions, according to studies, are based on their situation, as with other low income voters.