Talking to the New Evangelical Voters

By Jeannie Choi 09-26-2008

During the final week of the 2000 presidential election, I was in the fall semester of my freshman year in college, feeling incredibly hungry-hungrier than I had ever been before. Compelled by a mobilization of young Christians to fast and pray for the election, I committed to fast for the three days leading up to Election Day. Sitting hunched over in lecture halls to muffle the sounds gurgling from my stomach, I sent out single sentence prayers for my candidate of choice to be elected to office.

Eight years later, my prayers are just as earnest, but not as pointed. The truth is, the confidence I had as a freshman in one party and one candidate is just not there anymore, and I find myself frustratingly ambivalent.

The research I've done the past few months at Sojourners shows that as a young evangelical voter, I am not alone. A September 2007 study from the Pew Research Center shows that Republican affiliation among younger evangelicals dropped by 15 percentage points from 2001 to 2005, many citing their opposition to the Iraq war as a major reason for the change. Interestingly enough, however, there has not been a correlating increase in young evangelical affiliation with the Democratic Party, making the evangelical voting base much less predictable in the 2008 presidential election.

To get a better picture of how evangelical views are changing, Sojourners decided to interview 21 people from nine cities-including Seattle; Columbus, Ohio; Boston; Leawood, Kansas; Atlanta; Houston; Pittsburgh; and Boise, Idaho-representing six different ethnicities and ranging from ages 26 to 66. I invite you to read what your fellow voters had to say about which issues are most important to them in the upcoming election, whether or not their perspectives have changed in the last four or eight years, and how biblical truths inform the way they vote. Also, hear from some of the interviewees in their own words, as they share how circumstances in their own lives have motivated shifts in thought.

The conversations I had with many earnest and informed evangelicals suggested a significant shift in their viewpoint-a transformation that I believe has the potential to shake up not only political assumptions, but the very face of evangelicalism in the years to come.

Jeannie ChoiJeannie Choi is assistant editor at Sojourners.

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