If the White House still looks like it needs remedial training on social media, someone at Gallup apparently has a post-grad degree in clickbait. Based on a data dive on its daily tracking poll on presidential approval ratings, Gallup has produced trend lines on approval by religious identification — a handy way to look at Barack Obama’s relative strength among faith-based groups. The big news is the sharp decline across all religious demos over his presidency and even since the first of the year, but the headline is … well, let’s just say this caught some attention on Twitter:
U.S. Muslims Most Approving of Obama, Mormons Least
Relative rank order of religious groups stable throughout his presidency
That’s because Muslims have been a strong Democratic demo since at least early in the Bush administration. Almost two-thirds of Muslim voters identify as Democrats, according to a Pew poll in 2007. Most polls put Republican identification at nearly nil among Muslims in America. It’s not terribly surprising, then, that they tend to be very favorable to Obama:
Seventy-two percent of U.S. Muslims approved of the job President Barack Obama was doing as president during the first six months of 2014, higher than any other U.S. religious group Gallup tracks. Mormons were least approving, at 18%. In general, majorities of those in non-Christian religions — including those who do not affiliate with any religion — approved of Obama, while less than a majority of those in the three major Christian religious groups did.
By the way, this has been true all along, so it’s not exactly news:
The relative rank order of the religious groups on job approval has been consistent throughout Obama’s presidency. In fact, the current rank order, with Muslims most approving and Mormons least, exactly matches the order seen over the more than five years he has been in office since January 2009.
The next paragraph, though, is actually significant:
Moreover, current job approval among each religious subgroup is between five and seven percentage points lower than the full 2009-2014 average for each. Obama’s current 43% overall job approval average is five points lower than his 48% average so far in his presidency.
Gallup includes two charts, one for approval in Christian religion demos over Obama’s presidency, and the other for non-Christians, including unaffiliated voters. The trendlines in both charts are downward, although sharper among Christian religions than non-Christian. There isn’t a single demo where Obama hasn’t dropped in 2014 by a margin larger than the five-plus year average’s MOE. That’s true even among Mormons, where Obama’s average approval levels in his presidency were already atrocious.
Besides, the Muslim demo is tiny and not dispositive in elections at all. That’s very much not the case for the Christian demos, with tens of millions of voters in each, and the decline has been significant over the last five-plus years. In 2009, Obama got 67% approval among Catholics and 58% among Protestants, and his presidential averages among each are 50% and 43%. The 2014 averages are 44% and 37%. Jewish voters, another traditional Democratic demo, are a smaller group but the situation is worse there. Obama started off with a 77% approval rating among Jewish voters, and has a presidential average of 62% — but that’s dropped to 55% in 2014, an arguably dangerous nadir among a traditional voting bloc that Democrats will need in the midterms. Even atheists have fallen off the pace, dropping six points in 2014 from the overall presidential average, 54% from 60%.
Gallup buries the lede here. There’s no surprise in the ranking of religious demos when it comes to Obama approval ratings, but what is a surprise is how much approval has fallen off this year, and how it has done so almost identically in all religious demos.