First up from the God Machine this week is a look at the 2012 presidential election, and the differences along religious lines. The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life published a report this week based on exit polling data, and I put together a chart based on its findings.
There's a fair amount of interesting data here, though the results among Roman Catholic voters are arguably the most electorally significant. In every recent cycle, Catholics have been considered a key swing constituency, particularly throughout Midwest battleground states, and President Obama narrowly won their support, 50% to 48%. It suggests Republicans' efforts to focus on contraception and reproductive rights had limited success, and the Bishops' lobbying largely fell on deaf ears.
Also note, while many on the right hoped 2012 would be the year that Jewish voters abandoned Democrats, that didn't come close to happening. Though Obama fared slightly worse among Jewish voters as compared to 2008, he still enjoyed overwhelming support.
For the purposes of classification, "Other faiths" became a catch-all for a variety of minority religious traditions -- Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, and others -- which on their own represent a very small percentage of the voting population. Their support for the GOP remains dismal.
And continue to keep an eye on the religiously unaffiliated -- one of the fastest growing segments of the faith population -- which includes atheists, agnostics, and theists who choose not to associate with any specific tradition. Their lopsided support for Obama reinforces yet another demographic problem for Republicans in the coming years.
As for members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons), it's not surprising that they would strongly support Mitt Romney -- he was the first Mormon ever to appear on a national ticket -- but there was one curiosity in the results: Romney did slightly worse among Mormon voters this year than George W. Bush did in 2004.
Also from the God Machine this week:
* Congress only had one openly atheist member, Rep. Pete Stark (D-Calif.), who lost his re-election bid this week. However, Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), who describes herself as a "non-theist," appears likely to prevail in her congressional bid (thanks to reader R.P. for the tip).
* Hawaii elected Congress' first-ever Hindu American, Tulsi Gabbard, a 31-year-old Iraq war veteran, a woman widely seen as a rising star in Democratic politics. Hawaii also elected Mazie Hirono (D) to the U.S. Senate, where she will be the chamber's first-ever Buddhist senator.
* And I'd be remiss if I failed to mention this jarring video of radical TV preacher Pat Robertson, reflecting on "Fifty Shades of Grey" and the fact that he finds porn "boring."