The religion and politics "Gang of Four"--John C. Green, Corwin Smidt, James Guth, and Lyman Kellstedt--has produced another report of the American religious landscape, post-2004 election. There are no huge surprises here, though the report will gratify those who like to see the electorate sliced and diced (demographically, not the way one of Zarqawis thugs would do it).
There remains ample evidence of a split across the board between religious traditionalists and modernists, a split that has pushed the mainline Protestant center of gravity in the direction of the Kerry camp (mainline Protestants, now only 16% of the population, split 50/50 in the survey). Non-Latino Catholics went for Bush, largely on the strength of 72% traditionalist and 55% centrist support. Evangelicals went for GWB over JFK 78-22, with 88% of traditionalists and 64% of centrists supporting the President. Latino Protestants, a small (2.8%) but growing portion of the electorate, supported Bush by a 63-37% margin.
Social issues loomed relatively large for all traditionalists, but not so much for others. Economic issues loomed largest for Latinos (Catholic and Protestant) and African-Americans. Others either responded most emphatically to foreign policy concerns or split pretty evenly between foreign and economic policy concerns (centrist evangelicals and Catholics, modernist mainline Protestants).
According to the survey, fully 27% of Bushs overall support came from traditionalist evangelicals. By contrast, African-American Protestants comprised 13% of the Kerry coalition. Both numbers strike me as high water marks for the parties. Its hard to imagine the 2008 Republican nominee getting more than 88% of the traditionalist evangelical vote, and I suspect that were seeing the beginning of an African-American migration away from total fealty to the Democrats.
I am nonetheless hopeful about the Republican future (though my crystal ball is famously cloudy). In 2004, things were exploitably bad for Bush on both foreign policy and economic fronts, and are likely to be better down the road (Im an Iraq optimist). Bushs future accomplishments in both arenas will be rewarded by constituencies who care about them. And his allies in the culture war wont be swayed by the ritual and meaningless religious invocations, such as those offered last night by Reid and Pelosi, nor by HRCs efforts at triangulation.