Neither presidential candidate seems anxious to discuss religion, but that doesn't mean religious voters are not making choices.
"It is a striking departure from the faith-based overtures heard in this year's Republican primary and in some past presidential campaigns," wrote Mitchell Landsberg for the LA Times, "and it serves to mask a central aspect of each man's life story, in which faith plays an important role. But analysts on both sides of the political spectrum say religion is perceived as a no-win subject by both campaigns, and it is not likely to play a prominent role in the 2012 election."
Meanwhile, a new Gallup survey notes that Jewish and Mormon voters tilt in opposite directions, with each group comprising a small 2 percent of the U.S. voting base. Mormons, not surprisingly, line up strongly behind Mitt Romney, while 64 percent of Jews prefer Barack Obama. That actually represents a 10-percent decline from 2008 for the incumbent.
An AP article earlier this week highlighted concerns among Obama's religious supporters that inroads he made into the faith vote in 2008 might be lost this time around. Polls generally show Obama running much stronger among secular voters than believers.
"The Democratic National Committee is promising a repeat performance in 2012," the AP article read. "But some religious leaders and scholars who backed Obama in 2008 are skeptical. They say the Democrats have, through neglect and lack of focus, squandered the substantial gains they made with religious moderates and worry it will hurt Obama in a tight race against Republican Mitt Romney."
"The DNC’s faith outreach director, the Rev. Derrick Harkins, said the party has strong relationships with religious groups. But as evidence of their concerns, critics point to the public debate that followed Obama’s endorsement of gay marriage, a decision the president said was based in part on his Christian faith."
Meanwhile, the Catholic vote is the key to the election, Salena Zito at the Pittsburgh Tribune Review argues: "A Gallup survey in early May found Catholic voters evenly split for Obama and Romney, though white Catholics who identified themselves as "mostly" or "moderately" religious favor Romney and the nonreligious support Obama."
"'That drop among Catholics is very concerning,' said Al Zangrilli, a member of Pittsburgh Catholics for Obama,'" according to Zito.
Eric Schulzke writes on national politics for the Deseret News. He can be contacted at [email protected].