Midterms reinforce Christian voter trends on abortion, GOP

Nov 11, 2022, 9:53 AM | Updated: 10:18 am

FILE - People cast their ballots at Coit Arts Academy in Grand Rapids on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022. On ...

FILE - People cast their ballots at Coit Arts Academy in Grand Rapids on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022. On a successful, high-profile ballot measure in the battleground state of Michigan, proposing to enshrine abortion rights in the state constitution, Catholic voters split about evenly, according to AP VoteCast, an expansive survey of more than 94,000 voters across the country. (Joel Bissell/The Grand Rapids Press via AP, File)

(Joel Bissell/The Grand Rapids Press via AP, File)

In the midterm elections, evangelical Christians across the nation reconfirmed their allegiance to conservative candidates and causes, while Catholic voters once again showed how closely divided they are — even on abortion.

On a successful, high-profile ballot measure in the battleground state of Michigan, proposing to enshrine abortion rights in the state constitution, Catholic voters split about evenly, according to AP VoteCast, an expansive survey of more than 94,000 voters across the country.

In Kentucky, a reliably Republican state, voters rejected a GOP-backed ballot measure aimed at denying any state constitutional protections for abortion. Among those voting No were 60% of Catholic voters, according to VoteCast.

In contrast, about two-thirds of white evangelical voters in both Kentucky and Michigan voted against protecting abortion access.

Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, said rejection of that measure in his state was an “unmitigated disaster.”

He was less surprised by abortion-rights amendments passing in more liberal Vermont and California and centrist Michigan. But the Kentucky vote was the “hardest loss” and followed a similar vote in August in another red state, Kansas.

Mohler said it’s important for abortion opponents to be willing to enact their views into policy.

Voters “who voted for pro-life candidates turned around and voted against a pro-life constitutional amendment,” Mohler lamented.

On the opposite side of the fight, Catholics for Choice president Jamie Manson said abortion access protections are popular.

“In red states and blue states, with religious voters and secular voters, wherever abortion was on the ballot, abortion rights disproportionately won,” she said in a statement.

John Fea, a professor of American history at Messiah University in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, said the Kentucky vote signaled that many Americans seem to want the status quo provided under the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. It legalized abortion nationwide — with some limits — until it was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court in June.

“Most of the country wants some restrictions on abortion, but they don’t want bans,” Fea said. “The Christian right, despite the fact that they got what they wanted with the overturning of Roe, is not getting the extent of the victory they had hoped.”

Only about one in 10 voters nationwide and across most states say abortion should be illegal in all cases, according to AP VoteCast. Even among white evangelical voters, while most say abortion should generally be illegal, only about two in 10 say abortion should be illegal in all cases.

Despite setbacks on the ballot measures, abortion opponents took heart from some other election results. Michael New, who teaches social research at The Catholic University of America, cited the comfortable re-election victories for GOP Govs. Greg Abbott in Texas, Brian Kemp in Georgia, Ron DeSantis in Florida and Mike DeWine in Ohio.

“All these governors signed strong pro-life laws and did not hide from the abortion issue,” New said.

According to VoteCast, about 4 in 10 Catholics voting in the midterm elections identified as Democrats; about half as Republicans. A breakdown of some high-profile races for governor and for U.S. Senate illustrated how these voters are very much a swing constituency.

In Wisconsin, Catholic voters slightly favored Republicans in those two races.

In Pennsylvania, Catholics were slightly more likely to have voted for the Republican loser in the Senate race, Mehmet Oz, but more likely to vote for the Democratic winner in the governor’s race, Josh Shapiro. Oz is Muslim and Shapiro is Jewish.

In Arizona, Catholic voters were evenly divided between the Democratic and Republican candidates for governor, while about 60% backed Democrat Mark Kelly, seeking re-election to the Senate. The tight races in Arizona remain uncalled by The Associated Press.

In each of those three states, roughly two-thirds or more of white evangelical Christian voters backed the GOP candidates.

Another notable factor in these results: large majorities of voters who describe themselves as nonreligious voted for the Democrats and supported abortion rights in their decisions on the Michigan and Kentucky ballot measures.

While it remains uncertain which party will control Congress, John Fea and other scholars said the election was a setback for at least some Christian nationalist candidates on the Republican side – those who fuse Christian and American identity, symbols and mission.

While some candidates associated with the view succeeded – such as U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Republican re-elected in her overwhelmingly red Georgia district – those facing a more mixed electorate struggled.

Republican Doug Mastriano — whose campaign rallies were infused with Christian music and symbols though he has rejected the “Christian nationalist” label — lost decisively in the race for governor in Pennsylvania. Republican U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert, also associated with the movement, faced a tighter-than-expected race for re-election in Colorado.

Fea said Mastriano may have alienated people with his Christian nationalism but also with other factors, such as his efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election results.

“I think it’s a vote against an extreme brand of Christian nationalism, combined with election denying,” said Fea, author of “Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump.”

Mastriano won about 6 in 10 of the votes of his fellow evangelical Christians, according to VoteCast, but that seemed to slightly lag behind the two-thirds who backed Mehmet Oz.

Overall, among voters nationwide, about 4 in 10 say they attend religious services at least monthly; about a third say they never attend. About a fifth say they go once a week or more.

Democrats largely attend religious services less frequently – about 7 in 10 go less than monthly. Among Republicans, 46% attend at least monthly, while 54% go less often.


Follow the AP’s coverage of the 2022 midterm elections at https://apnews.com/hub/2022-midterm-elections. And learn more about the issues and factors at play in the midterms at https://apnews.com/hub/explaining-the-elections.


Associated Press religion coverage receives support through the AP’s collaboration with The Conversation US, with funding from Lilly Endowment Inc. The AP is solely responsible for this content.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Republican presidential candidates, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, left, talking with forme...

Associated Press

The GOP debate field was asked about Trump. But most of the stage’s attacks focused on Nikki Haley

The four Republican presidential candidates debating Wednesday night mostly targeted each other instead of Donald Trump.

4 days ago

Law enforcement officers head into the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, campus after reports of an ...

Associated Press

Police say 3 dead, fourth wounded and shooter also dead in University of Nevada, Las Vegas attack

Police said a suspect was found dead Wednesday as officers responded to an active shooter and reports of multiple victims at UNLV.

4 days ago

President Joe Biden's son, Hunter Biden, leaves after a court appearance, July 26, 2023, in Wilming...

Associated Press

Republicans threaten contempt proceedings if Hunter Biden refuses to appear for deposition

House Republicans are threatening to hold Hunter Biden in contempt if he does not show up this month for a closed-door deposition.

5 days ago

Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., listens to a question during a news conference, March 30, 2022, in W...

Associated Press

Tuberville is ending blockade of most military nominees, clearing way for hundreds to be approved

Sen. Tommy Tuberville announced Tuesday that he's ending his blockade of hundreds of military promotions, following heavy criticism.

5 days ago

An employee works inside the Hanwha Qcells Solar plant on Oct. 16, 2023, in Dalton, Ga. On Tuesday,...

Associated Press

US job openings fall to lowest level since March 2021 as labor market cools

U.S. employers posted 8.7 million job openings in October, the fewest since March 2021, in a sign that hiring is cooling.

6 days ago

Megyn Kelly poses at The Hollywood Reporter's 25th annual Women in Entertainment Breakfast, Dec. 7,...

Associated Press

The fourth GOP debate will be a key moment for the young NewsNation cable network

By airing the fourth Republican presidential debate, NewsNation network will almost certainly reach the largest audience in its history.

6 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Follow @KTAR923...

Valley residents should be mindful of plumbing ahead of holidays

With Halloween in the rear-view and more holidays coming up, Day & Night recommends that Valley residents prepare accordingly.


Desert Institute for Spine Care

Desert Institute for Spine Care (DISC) wants to help Valley residents address back, neck issues through awake spine surgery

As the weather begins to change, those with back issues can no longer rely on the dry heat to aid their backs. That's where DISC comes in.


Midwestern University

Midwestern University: innovating Arizona health care education

Midwestern University’s Glendale Campus near Loop 101 and 59th Avenue is an established leader in health care education and one of Arizona’s largest and most valuable health care resources.

Midterms reinforce Christian voter trends on abortion, GOP