2008 potential presidential candidates:
"Faithful America" complaints
concerning TV exit polls
Polling questions asked during exit interviews:
For decades, many media providers have been equating Christianity with
Evangelical Christianity. When reporters seek a controversial quotation on some
hot-button item, they almost inevitably ask a fundamentalist or other
conservative evangelical leader. Media personnel frequently do not seek comments
from mainline or liberal Christian leaders.
Faithful America (FA) believes that this same bias has extended
to exit polls conducted during the 2008 presidential primaries and caucuses.
Faithful America is a program of the
National Council of Churches,
USA, -- an umbrella group of mainline and liberal Protestant Christian
denominations. They describe themselves as a:
"... progressive, inclusive, and responsive interfaith electronic
advocacy community dedicated to providing a powerful collective voice to
help advance the cause of compassion and justice in public policy."
Faithful America is unlike the many conservative Christian groups that focus
on reducing abortion access, preserving
discrimination against gays, lesbians, bisexuals and
transsexuals, and prohibiting
same-sex marriage. Instead, FA tackles a broad range of topics like poverty,
global warming, other environmental concerns, human rights, etc. During
2008-FEB, they started collecting signatures on a petition to TV networks. FA
perceived a bias in the questions that ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, Fox and the
Associated Press have asked during exit polls. According to FA:
"The petition says: 'The presidential primary exit polls, sponsored by
ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, Fox and the AP, must stop stereotyping people of faith.
We call on the media pollsters to ask all voters -- Republicans and
Democrats -- the same religion questions on the exit poll surveys'."
Presumably, the request would also extend to political independents as well.
Faithful America notes that:
"The exit polls have asked Republican voters more religion questions than
Democratic voters in every single primary state. In Michigan and Iowa they
didn't ask Democratic voters any religion questions at all.
In every state, they have exhaustively analyzed Republican evangelicals and
completely ignored evangelical Democrats, even though our
own research says one-third of evangelical voters are voting in
"So far, the networks have dismissed polite inquiries from faith leaders,
and a growing drumbeat of media attention. The only response the pollsters
have given is that there is 'limited real estate' on their questionnaires,
and that they 'do not talk publicly about what questions are on our
"That's ridiculous. They've made plenty of room on their Republican
surveys for religion questions. They can do the same for their Democratic
surveys. All people of faith should have the same chance to be represented."
"It's time for thousands of us to call for balanced questioning in
presidential exit polls. Click here to sign your name:
Sign the petition."
"If we are silent, the media pollsters will continue to reinforce false
stereotypes about religious voters. The wedge-issue 'values voter' will be
the face of faith in politics AGAIN. We must refuse to be pigeonholed."
"The exit polls are especially egregious when it comes to polling about
evangelicals. The broadening of the evangelical issue agenda to include
issues like poverty and the environment has been a major news story all
year. But the exit polls have asked not asked Democratic voters in a single
state -- while asking Republicans in every state -- if they are
"Faith in Public Life and the Center for American Progress
Action Fund commissioned a poll in two Super Tuesday states, Missouri
and Tennessee, to demonstrate what the pollsters are missing. Their poll,
released last week, showed:
|One-third of all white evangelical voters in both states
participated in the Democratic primaries.|
|There were 160,000 evangelical Democratic voters in Missouri and
180,000 evangelical Democratic voters in Tennessee. In both states,
that's as many or more than all African-American voters, all voters over
65, or all voters who said the Iraq war is the most important issue
facing the country.|
|Majorities of evangelical voters in both states support a broader
issue agenda that goes beyond abortion and same-sex marriage to include
ending poverty, protecting the environment, and tackling HIV/AIDS."|
"If enough of us sign, we can make it plain to the networks' pollsters:
no party can own any faith."
(Bold characters by Faithful America)
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
- "God's Only Party?," Faithful America, 2008-FEB, at:
This is expected to be a temporary listing.
- "Sign the Petition," Faithful America, 2008-FEB, at:
Copyright © 2008 by Ontario Consultants on Religious
Originally written: 2008-FEB-20
Latest update: 2008-FEB-20
Author: B.A. Robinson