So, how did believers vote in Alabama? Only white evangelicals were tagged in exit polls

So, how did the believers vote in Alabama?

Did the much-maligned evangelical Protestants, who’ve been criticized by lots of folks for helping elect President Donald Trump a year ago, vote in similarly large numbers for Judge Moore?

The short answer is yes. Journalists were all over that question.

As for other religious groups (Catholics, non-evangelical Protestants, Jews, etc.), no one seemed to be asking them how they voted, although they do exist in the Deep South. And what about African-American and Latino evangelicals?, also known as The Birmingham News, didn’t split up the results as far as I could find. But it did run the full Scripture-laden quote that Moore gave late Tuesday evening:

"We also know God is always in control," Moore said. "One of the problems with this campaign is we've been painted in an unfavorable and unfaithful light. We've been in a hole, if you will. It reminds me of a passage in Psalm 40."
Moore then quoted the Scripture.
"'I waited patiently for the Lord' -- and that's what we've got to do," Moore said before resuming, "he climbed to me and heard my cry and brought us up also out of the horrible pit, out of the miry clay and set my feet on the rock and established my goings. And put a new song in our mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it and fear it and be moved by that.
"That's what we've got to do is wait on God and let this process play out. The votes are still coming in. We're looking at that."

As it turned out, even the Bible section of that speech was a bit off, as one outspoken evangelical noted:



Meanwhile, the only outlet that showed the faith of Tuesday’s voters was the Washington Post, which released a detailed exit poll.

There were some interesting factors here, one being that fewer white evangelical voters (the only religious group separately polled by the Post) showed up for this election. Last night, 44 percent of the voters said they were evangelicals. In 2012 and 2008, 47 percent said they were. (It's unclear why the Post didn't include 2016 figures).


Screenshot 2017-12-12 23.27.28.png

Still, 80 percent of the evangelicals said they voted for Moore. Elsewhere, 83 percent of those who identified themselves as conservative supported Moore, which shows that a small percentage of evangelicals went for Jones.

Of course, pollsters could have dug deeper to find out how many white evangelicals were biting their lips when voting for Moore, because they were actually voting against Jones. It's also crucial to note that the number of write-in votes was small -- but large enough to swing the election to Jones.

The big evangelical-voter question on this night? That would be this: How many white evangelicals simply stayed home? Moore's total vote count on this night was about half of what Trump received in Alabama in 2016.

On Dec. 9, Post columnist Dan Balz phrased religious voters’ motives as follows: 

Moore has a following that is unshakable, especially among evangelical Christians. In a recent Washington Post-Schar School poll that showed the overall race neck and neck, 78 percent of evangelical Christian voters in Alabama said they backed Moore’s candidacy. Among other white Christians in the state, his support was at 41 percent.

Moore's opponent, by the way, is a United Methodist but I saw no Methodists interviewed anywhere as to what they thought of the race. I wish the journalists on the ground could have selected a wider sample of clergy and laity to interview last night, as they might have gotten some interesting observations on the religious vote that went to Jones.

Hopefully, we'll find out in the coming days as to whether evangelicals were truly monolithic in support of Moore.

Such subtleties are tough to discern on election night, but the truth is surely out there. Of course, journalists and pollsters will need to ask the right questions.

FIRST IMAGE: Screenshot from C-SPAN coverage.

Please respect our Commenting Policy