In previous posts, I summarized what conservatives believe in, and I discussed their perspective toward Republican Presidential Candidate John McCain. But, I still wanted to figure out, “How big is this group?” It’s not easy to find out.
According to Pew Research, about 10% of the population (12% of voters) are “staunch conservatives.” Another 9% (10% of registered voters) are also fairly conservative, especially in a religious or moral sense. This works out to about 19% of the U.S. population, or almost 60 million people.
Many of these are evangelical Christians. According to The Barna Group, who researches them,
“Evangelicals” meet the born again criteria plus seven other conditions. Those include saying their faith is very important in their life today; believing they have a personal responsibility to share their religious beliefs about Christ with non-Christians; believing that Satan exists; believing that eternal salvation is possible only through grace, not works; believing that Jesus Christ lived a sinless life on earth; asserting that the Bible is accurate in all that it teaches; and describing God as the all-knowing, all-powerful, perfect deity who created the universe and still rules it today. Being classified as an evangelical is not dependent upon church attendance or the denominational affiliation of the church they attend.
The Barna Group research indicates that there were 18 million evangelicals in 2007. This seems to correspond to numbers from the Pew Forum. According to a Pew Forum Report, “White evangelical Protestants make up 37% of all Republican voters but constitute a majority (55%) of Republican social-issue voters.” While a definitive answer to “how many Republican voters are there?” is elusive, USA Today founder Neuharth claims that in 2004 there were 55 million Republicans. So, 37% of 55 million Republicans is about 20 million—the numbers seem to roughly align up. This is about 10% of the number of adults in the U.S.
What has made evangelical Christians important to Republicans is that those evangelicals who attend church regularly tend to overwhelmingly vote for Republican presidential candidates. According to research by John Green of the Pew Forum, this trend is likely to continue. What complicates it is that disillusionment with President Bush seems to be turning a large number of young white evangelicals away from the Republican party altogether.