Young Evangelical Christians and the 2008 Election


Greenberg Quinlan Rosner
Religion and Ethics News Weekly

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Executive Summary

A recent survey conducted for Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner finds that young white evangelical Christians are less supportive of John McCain for president than their older counterparts. Although McCain maintains a solid winning margin among white evangelical Christians on the ballot, white evangelicals ages 18-29 are less supportive of his candidacy and express less favorable impressions of McCain than older white evangelical Christians.

Key Findings

John McCain is solidly winning white evangelical Christians on the ballot. White evangelical Christians support John McCain 71 percent to 23 percent over Barack Obama, and two-thirds (66 percent) have favorable impressions of McCain.

Young evangelical Christians are less likely to support McCain’s candidacy. McCain still wins young evangelicals overall, but the margin closes to 62-30 McCain among white evangelicals under age 30 compared to 73-22 McCain among those over the age of 30.

Young white evangelical Christians also are less likely to give McCain a positive favorability rating than white evangelicals over age 30. Young white evangelical women are less positive about Sarah Palin. White evangelical women under age 30 give Sarah Palin surprisingly low favorability ratings. This dissent contrasts sharply with white evangelical women over age 30 who are among her most ardent supporters.

Young evangelical Christians display generational differences on some key social issues. A majority of younger white evangelicals support some form of legal recognition for civil unions or marriage for same-sex couples. Older evangelicals remain strongly opposed. At the same time, young evangelicals are as solidly pro-life on abortion as older evangelicals.

Methodology

Greenberg Quinlan Rosner designed and administered this survey, reaching a total of 1400 adults, 18 years or older, including an oversample of 400 evangelical Christians ages 18-29. The survey was conducted September 4-21, 2008. Evangelical Christians are defined as Protestants or members of another Christian religion, and who identify as fundamentalist, evangelical, charismatic, or Pentecostal or who indicated they are born-again Christians.