Regardless of party affiliation, there are reasons for Charleston residents to fear Tea Party “values.”
A new post-election survey finds perceptions of President Obama’s religious beliefs;potential conflicts between those identifying with the Tea Party and white evangelicals, and attitudes about Islam are emerging religious issues that promise to shape the 2012 elections in new ways.
The 2010 post-election American Values Survey was conducted by Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) in cooperation with The Brookings Institution.
“While the old religious alignments we’ve seen in recent elections remained largely the same – with Republicans holding an advantage among white Christian voters and Democrats holding an advantage among minority Christian voters and the unaffiliated – we found several important emerging fault lines,” said Dr. Robert P. Jones, CEO of Public Religion Research Institute.
“Our new survey found that President Obama is facing a real perception problem about his religious beliefs. A majority of Americans say that President Obama’s religious beliefs are somewhat different (16 percent) or very different from their own (35 percent). Given that Americans generally want political leaders who share their values, this could be a serious problem for the President moving towards 2012.”
The survey also showed that views about President Obama’s faith have a significant impact on evaluations of him and his Presidency. Of those who say Obama’s religious beliefs are very similar to their own, 94 percent have a favorable view of him. Alternatively, among Americans who say Obama’s beliefs are very different from their own, nearly eight-in-ten say they have either a very unfavorable (51 percent) or mostly unfavorable (27 percent) view of him.
The survey also uncovered potential rifts in the Republican coalition between members of the Tea Party and white evangelicals:
Those identifying with the Tea Party are also more likely than white evangelicals to say discrimination against women is no longer a problem in the country, that blacks and other minorities have received too much government attention, and to say that it is not that big a problem if some have more chances in life than others.
Americans are essentially split over whether the values of Islam are at odds with American values and way of life. However, views of Islam are highly polarized by political and religious affiliation.
Approximately two-thirds of both Republicans and those identifying with the Tea Party say the values of Islam are at odds with American values, compared to only 3-in-10 Democrats. Nearly 6-in-10 (57 percent) white evangelicals say the values of Islam are at odds with American values, a view held by less than 3-in-10 (28 percent) Americans with no religious affiliation.
To read the full results and questionnaire, click here.
The Public Religion Research Institute is a non-profit, nonpartisan research and education organization specializing in work at the intersection of religion, values and public life.