More on Exit Polls & Religion

April 05, 2016

As voters head to the polls in Wisconsin today, attention will likely again be given to the questions exit pollsters ask - and do not ask - about religion. In February I wrote a Washington Post column critiquing the dearth of religion questions in exit polls. Several newspapers reran that column and others cited it in the first couple weeks after it ran.

Over the past couple weeks the piece has continued to spark discussion. My arguments were mentioned in a Christian Post article and in an editorial by FRC Action (a conservative Christian political group). I also did a radio interview on religion in exit polls (and other issues related to the campaign) with Deal Hudson for his show "Church and Culture" on Ave Maria Radio. You can listen to the hour conversation online. Hudson led Catholic outreach for both of George W. Bush's presidential campaigns.

If the past two months of exit polling continues, we'll definitely see Republicans - but not Democrats - asked if they are "evangelical." We might see another religion question like religious service attendance or religious affiliation. But the evangelical one will likely dominate media attention, as it has throughout the campaign.

Although much has been made of Republican frontrunner Donald Trump doing well with evangelicals, he's not actually done as well as media coverage often suggests. As I noted in a couple of articles, he does poorly among evangelicals (and others) who actually attend church regularly and he does poorly among Midwestern evangelicals. Regarding the latter point, I've even made a map that shows where Trump does (red) and does not (blue) win evangelical voters. I'll have to shade Wisconsin in tonight, but I suspect it will also go blue.