Obama expands religious support

Campaign 2008

It's a campaign in which pastors cause controversy and Democrats compete for religious votes. The latest exit polls from North Carolina and Indiana's primaries yesterday show where religiously-minded voters cast their vote.

CATHOLICS: Obama made gains among Catholics, a group he's struggled to win and heavily lost in past primaries. According to First Read, he went from losing 70-30% in Pennsylvania and 63%-36% in Ohio, to finally narrowing it to 59%-41% in Indiana. The campaign boasts, "Barack Obama is building one of the largest grassroots campaigns of people of faith in history." Doug Kmiec, who stirred the Catholic community with his endorsement of Obama, reiterated and explained his support:

I believe that my faith calls upon me at this time to focus on new efforts and untried paths to reduce abortion practice in America. Senator Obama's emphasis on personal responsibility, rather than legal bickering over potential Supreme Court nominations in my judgment, best moves this issue forward.

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WRIGHT: Rev. Jeremiah Wright had a mixed effect. Nearly half the voters in both primaries said the issue was important to their vote. In Indiana, 71% of the voters who said the issue was important went for Clinton, and 67% of the voters who said it wasn't important went for Obama. In North Carolina, however, Obama won more votes from people who said the issue wasn't important (72%) than Clinton did among those who considered it important (57%), the Associated Press reports. There was some speculation that Obama's renunciation of Wright would dent his monolithic support from black voters, but 9 in 10 black voters cast their vote for him.

RELIGIOUS VOTERS: When it came to the religious vote, Obama branched out a bit from his secular base. Among religious voters in Indiana, Obama won both the voters who attend church more than weekly (55-45%) and the voters who never attend church (52-48%), while Clinton won overall occasional attenders (54%-46%) and Protestant voters. In North Carolina, Obama won both weekly attenders (55-43%) and occasional attenders (59-39%), along with his usual secular voters.


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