The Evangelical vote in the US midterm elections

Polls show that American Evangelicals support Republican candidates who will promote Israeli interests in the Capitol.

November 4, 2014 16:34
3 minute read.
United States Capitol building in Washington, DC

United States Capitol building in Washington, DC.. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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Religious influence on the American public sphere is steadily decreasing, but the vote of the Christian political right  is gaining momentum, according to polling. Traditionally, this active religious group has continually placed supporting Israel at the forefront of their political agenda.

Today, Americans head to the polls to cast their vote in the 2014 midterm elections. This year, it looks likely that the American Senate will gain a Republican majority, thus completely shifting the focus of the government and derailing much of the current Democratic agenda.
Evangelicals are more enthusiastic about midterm elections than the general population, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll. Forty-nine percent of Evangelicals say they are interested in news about the elections, compared to 38% of non-Evangelicals

American Evangelicals overwhelmingly support the Republican Party and their candidates (72%), whereas only 20% of Evangelicals lean Democratic. Furthermore, Evangelicals support candidates who support Israel. 

But Christian conservatives will probably vote in greater numbers on Nov. 4 than others, giving them an outsized say in who runs Congress. Forty-nine percent of evangelicals say they have a great deal of interest or quite a bit of interest in news about the elections, compared to 38 percent of non-evangelicals.

"Evangelicals have in fact become one of the core constituencies in the Republican Party,” Robert P. Jones of the Public Religion Research Institute polling group said. "Because they see themselves that way, we see their willingness to vote consistently Republican, even though you could point to a number of issues where the Republican-led House (of Representatives) really hasn’t moved much on their agenda.”

If Republicans capture the majority, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Republican, Kentucky), becomes the majority leader, he plans to present legislation that will challenge Obama, inviting Republican leadership to partake in foreign policy discussion concerning Iranian sanctions. 

This move led by McConnell would be a victory in the eyes of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has previously made efforts to impose stricter sanctions on Iran, against the presidential administration's will.

Additionally, if the chairmanship of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee switches over to Senator Bob Corker (Republican, Tennessee), a leader who has supported Israeli interests time and time again. Over the summer, Corker added to the US-Israeli strategic partnership, triggering Congressional hearings that could reject deals that did not support the Israeli government. He also attached a non-binding resolution vote on any future dealings with Iran, to the strategic partnership.

In order for Republicans to win control of the Senate this midterm election cycle, Republicans must gain a six seat lead in the Senate. This requires Republican victories in key swing states such as North Carolina, Iowa, Kentucky, Colorado, Georgia and Arkansas--- incidentally enough; each of these states has a strong Evangelical Christian presence.

Although it is unclear whether or not these potential Republican-led rulings and resolutions would actually be able to block a nuclear agreement with Iran, it is clear that Republican candidates have pledged to provide Israel with increased support in the US Capitol.

David Brog, the Executive Director for Christians United for Israel told The Jerusalem Post on Monday that he expected large evangelical support for the Republicans.

"I do expect evangelicals to vote Republican in large numbers today.  They will do so because they strongly disagree with this administration's treatment of Israel.  And they will do so because they strongly disagree with this Administration's approach to a number of domestic issues from life to religious freedom.  Simply put, this administration has broken to the left so dramatically on these issues that they have left even centrist evangelicals far behind," Brogsaid.
 Reuters contributed to this report.

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