The Corner

Clinton’s Evangelical Problem

Ruth Graham has a good article at Slate on how little effort Hillary Clinton put into courting evangelical Christians. She points out that Barack Obama, by contrast, did try to appeal to them in his 2008 campaign. I’d note that Bill Clinton did, too, during the 1990s. During the Obama years, however, Democrats came to believe that they no longer needed to woo non-progressive constituencies, including the overlapping ones of white voters without college degrees and white voters who consider themselves evangelical or born-again Christians. That decision cost them.

How much? Look at Michigan. In 2012, Obama won 24 percent of voters in the state who said they were evangelical or born-again Christians and white. Clinton got only 14 percent. They were 27 percent of the voters. If Clinton had replicated Obama’s performance among them, then, she would have gotten an extra 2.7 percent of all voters. She lost the state, and its 16 electoral votes, by 0.2 percent.

In Wisconsin, holding steady among white evangelicals would have given her another 1.1 percent of the vote; she lost by 0.7 percent. That’s ten more electoral votes.

In Florida, where Clinton lost by 1.2 percent, slippage in this group seems to have cost her more than 1.4 points. That’s 29 more votes.

Flip all three states, and Clinton wins the Electoral College 287-251.


Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.