News Column

Presidential Exit Polls Illustrate America's Religious, Cultural Divide

Nov. 11, 2012

Bill Sherman

Exit Polls, analysis

Nov. 11-- Exit polls in Tuesday's presidential election underscored, once again, that America remains sharply divided along religious and cultural lines.

Jews, Muslims, gays, Catholic Hispanics and Protestant blacks overwhelmingly voted for President Barack Obama.

Evangelicals strongly supported Mitt Romney.

Among regular church-goers, Romney won 59 to 39 percent. Among voters who never attend church, Obama won 62 to 34 percent, according to the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.

Those who call themselves religiously unaffiliated voted for Obama 70 percent to 26 percent.

"President Obama's victory has allowed me to be the proudest I've ever been to be an American," said Bill Dusenberry, president of the Tulsa chapter of the American Association of Secular Humanist Pantheists.

Dusenberry, who is vacationing in France, said the French were happy to see his Obama sticker.

"Europe is socialistic. These nations share their wealth rather than allow a small number of their residents to become fantastically wealthy," he said.

Among people who self-identify as born again or evangelical, Romney won 79 percent of the vote, to Obama's 20 percent.

Everett Piper, president of Oklahoma Wesleyan University in Bartlesville, said the election was clearly a contest between a Judeo-Christian worldview and a post-modern, secular worldview.

"I'm disappointed for our economy, for our culture, for our church and for our community," he said of the Obama win.

"I'm disappointed because our freedoms have been compromised.

"We've become a nation of children who prefer candy and cash to competency and character."

Piper said he didn't believe the culture war was over, or that the Judeo-Christian worldview and ethic has disappeared because of this election.

"I believe that the truth of Christ and the truth of scripture is the strongest idea and the best idea, the most true idea of all human history; and I believe that it is the solution to a broken economy, a bankrupt culture, and a loss of integrity and morality worldwide.

"The best cure for what ails us is to live biblically," he said.

Nonevangelical Protestants preferred Romney 54 to 44 percent, and white Catholics voted for Romney 59 to 40 percent, but Hispanic Catholics voted for Obama 75 to 21 percent.

The Jewish vote went to Obama 69 to 30 percent.

David Bernstein, community relations director for the Jewish Federation of Tulsa, said Jews vote for people they think will bring social justice.

"We always have, because we have been downtrodden ourselves," he said.

He said that explains Jews' support of Obama's health-care program and his position on Hispanics.

Obama is less supportive of Israel than Romney, he said, but Israel is a lower priority for American Jews than social justice.

A Council on American-Islamic Relations exit poll found that 86 percent of Muslims voted for Obama.

Ninety-five percent of black Protestants voted for Obama.

"I'm very happy about President Obama being re-elected, not because he's an African-descent president, but because I think this is a positive move for our nation," said the Rev. Marilyn Robinson, African-American pastor of Ascension Lutheran Church.

"I'm very proud of our nation, and I'm hoping that this means we will become more united and less polarized," she said.

According to the Williams Institute, a sexual orientation think tank at the UCLA School of Law, Obama received 76 percent of the LGBT vote (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender).

Nancy McDonald, president of the Tulsa chapter and past national president of Parents, Family and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, said she was "absolutely" happy to see Obama re-elected.

"When he came out in support of gay marriage, for many in the LGBT community, that validated their support for him," she said.

"Attitudes are changing," she said, noting that voters in Maine and Maryland on Tuesday approved same-sex marriage.

Ray Hickman, executive director of Tulsa Metropolitan Ministry, said that with the election now over, he hopes to see an end to partisan bickering, polarization and paralyzing fear, and a new season of prosperity, justice and restored confidence in national leadership.

Bill Sherman 918-581-8398 bill.sherman@tulsaworld.com

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(c)2012 Tulsa World (Tulsa, Okla.)

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