Post-Election Pagan Poll Parsing

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  November 5, 2008 — 20 Comments

I don’t know if you heard, but Barack Obama won the race for president of the United States of America last night. Though “won” doesn’t quite express the historic margins of victory on display here. The Obama campaign won commanding majorities of several key demographics.

“Mr. Obama built a coalition that included majorities of women, independent voters, political moderates, Hispanics, African-Americans, people of most income groups and education levels and voters under age 45, according to nationwide surveys of voters leaving the polls on Tuesday and telephone interviews of some people who had voted early.”

So the pollsters, psychics, practitioners of divination, and other “spiritually advanced people” who predicted an Obama win can rest easy in the knowledge that they were correct. Which brings us to the Pagans. How did they vote this election? Thanks to The Witches’ Voice, we have a rough snapshot of who our community supported in 2008.


Witchvox 2008 Presidential Poll

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Pagans overall preferred Obama and the Democratic party, with nearly 3/4ths supporting Barack Obama. This is an improvement of almost 2 percentage points over Kerry in 2004. Republican-leaning Pagans on the other hand seemed deeply unhappy with their party’s nominee. While Bush garnered 17.7% of the Pagan vote in 2004, McCain dropped seven percentage points, with most of those voters migrating to the “None of the above” category. In contrast, only 1.5% of Pagans went with “other” in 2004. Could the appointment of Sarah Palin, with her ties to anti-Pagan “spiritual warfare” churches, have been a poison pill for conservative Pagans?

This election cycle also saw progressive Pagans vote for the Green party in larger numbers, 3.2% this year as opposed to 0.8% in 2004. Support for Ralph Nader, who ran as an independent in 2004 and 2008, remained stable with around 2.5% of the vote in both elections. Among the smaller political parties, the Libertarians were hardest hit this election. While 5.6% went for Michael Badnarik in ’04, only 2.3% voted for Bob Barr. I can only imagine that Barr’s anti-Pagan past came back to haunt him.

While Pagan Obama supporters must be very happy right now, it wasn’t all good news for us. Paganistan (aka Minnesota’s Twin Cities) saw the reelection of congresswoman Michele “investigate the liberals” Bachmann, a woman unafraid to dump money on anti-Pagan charities. It also isn’t looking very good for gay marriage in California (anti-gay marriage bans were also passed in Arizona and Florida). Earlier this year I explained how these marriage bans interfere with the religious liberties of Pagan clergy willing to perform ceremonies for gay couples.

Despite these political setbacks, I can say I’m truly happy that the age of George “I don’t think witchcraft is a religion” Bush is finally coming to an end. I’m also pleased to see the emergence of a more politically engaged Pagan movement. I look optimistically to the future of America, and the continuing growth and influence of modern Pagans in our world.

ADDENDUM: Nate Silver at the 538 blog has posted exit-polling data from the election and finds that the Witchvox poll numbers are pretty darn accurate (with 73% of religious “other” voters preferring Obama).

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Jason Pitzl-Waters

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  • nihilix

    I’d been unaware of the 2004 poll – or perhaps I did see it but forgot about it – and I was tickled pink to see what a large percentage Obama had.The Republican National Convention, which I do think assisted some Republican candidates (like Bachmann) also split our local community. Reclaiming witches were on the front lines of the protests, but others felt that the protests were bad, or that the protesters ‘got what they deserved’ (ie, beat up by the cops with thier pepperspray, etc.) Some heated discussions on some group lists. I wonder what the pagan support for Nader in 2000 would have been. I did some organizing within pagan communities there; for the left-leaning pagan I think the Green Party makes great sense. But the Nader/nongreen campaign undercuts. Thanks for helping/running the poll!

  • Lore

    Conservative views don’t have anything to do with religion per se. It’s more to do with your views on government spending, social programs, immigraton, so on and so forth. Christianity hi-jacked the Republican party.Surprisingly, most people who self-identify Liberal or Conservative actually fall closer to Moderate in their views. I myself am a left-leaning moderate with occasional right tendencies (I support the entire constitution, for example, including the fifth amendment). :)

    • Carol Maltby

      Might that 2% difference over the Kerry votes be within the margin of error?

    • Anonymous

      Hey, THE Michael, If you equate “Pagan” with “Wiccan,” then I understand why you are confused about how a Pagan can be Conservative. But there are many other branches of Paganism, some very ancient. For myself, being Asatru, I tend to be quite conservative, and most of the Asatruar I know are also conservative. It is a totally different world-view and totally different set of ethics than Wicca or Neo-Paganism. Yet it is still very much Pagan. I know several CR’s who are also rather conservative, though not to the degree that most Asatruar are. So please, don’t make the mistake of thinking that all Pagan religions share the same values or the same world view that Wicca does.

  • And Little Fishes

    I’m guessing that Obama, regardless of the fact that the religious left fringes supported him in great measure, myself included, will be moderate on religion. Not what I would wish for in a perfect world, but worlds better than what we’ve had. The back-and-forth here about Conservative (gasp) Pagans is a good reminder. Yes, we are statistically very progressive, but that’s only statistics. And part of being progressive, in my opinion, is being respectful of differences.

  • Anonymous

    I used to be a conservative when conservative meant not being trigger happy and spending recklessly. The current Republican party is not conservative. They are a party of corporation boot polishers who allow horrible abuse to our planet in the name of greed. The Republican party that I used to support seems to have been taken over by the extremist Christian right and has driven me to become a Libertarian Anarchist.

    • urbanhellenistos

      RE: THE michaelConservatism comes in many shades and stripes. If your dictionary really does define “conservative” as “believer in the One Trust Christ”, then I suggest switching either to Webster’s or Oxford. (and just for the record, I’m so Liberal it makes your teeth hurt.)The biggest mistake that the Republican party ever made was appointing Reagan as their 1980 candidate to appeal to Evangelical Christians and paint Jimmy Carter as an “out of touch Intellectual”, before that, the primary goals of the Republican party were fiscal conservatism and states’ rights. I have no real issue with old-style Republicans, I just disagree with their political views. Hell, Bill Clinton was this country’s greatest Republican president since Eisenhower.RE: LoreI hear ya’. Comparitively speaking, Kucinich is considered the candidate for the “Looney Left” in the $tates, but his political views make him a dead moderate in European standards.

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  • Tomb

    Yes it is all over. With a sigh of relief and a thanks to the gods I went to bed last night (and still am) quite positive about the possible future of the US.

  • Anonymous

    I can only speak for myself, as a Conservative Pagan. McCain was not a choice I was very happy with. I commend him as a very honorable man, smart, honest, someone who works well across the aisle, and is a deficit hawk – but he is NOT a Conservative and that is why his base, as a whole, wasn’t very excited to vote for him.The choice of Palin for VP did not push me away from voting GOP in the least. For some RepubliPagans it might have, but not in the groups I chatted with. Cara

  • Anonymous

    Opps…I forgot to add…about the poll on WitchVox. I would suspect that not many people who are Recons of various flavors visit WitchVox – compared to Wiccans and Wiccan influenced Pagans. Some Recon relgious groups lean far more to the Right than others. But I agree that Conservative Pagans are very much in the minority.

  • THE Michael

    Explain to me how a pagan could possibly be a conservative? Is not the conservative status quo the worship of the One true Christ, in whatever flavor he is painted in? That’s like a black butler working proudly for the Grand Dragon of the KKK! Or a Jew getting out the vote for the American Nazi Party!I’m sorry, but some people really need to delve into the dictionary, as well as getting a better grasp on the concept of irony. We’ve had an eight year nightmare thanks to one particular idiot who never opened one.

  • Anonymous

    So, then, all of that talk about the choice of Sarah “Conquer America for Christ” Palin was made in order to energize the Republican base?Does that mean we must consider the Republican Party Base to be the religious extremists?

  • quirkyknitgirl

    Wow. I’m a liberal myself, but the idea of a conservative pagan isn’t that crazy. It’s easy to forget, given recent history, but the Republican party hasn’t always had social conservatism at it’s core. States rights and fiscal conservatism have payed much bigger roles in the party’s platform in the past, and those are platforms that people of many faiths can agree upon.

  • Mike

    I am genuinely surprised that any self-respecting Pagan would vote for Bob Barr. It’s most likely fundie xian trolls posting the link to the poll to get others to jokingly select him.For the record, I selected “none of the above.”