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Behind the Numbers
Posted at 02:48 PM ET, 03/22/2012

Poll watcher: More Americans spurn faith talk by politicians

Nearly four in 10 Americans say politicians talk too much about religious faith, a sentiment that has spiked in recent years among Democrats and independents, according to a new survey by the Pew Research Center. Republicans also are more apt to say politicians talk too much about faith than in the past, though just one in four feel that way.

In general, Americans continue to think the nation has gone too far in keeping religion and government separate than mixing them together (36 vs. 25 percent), according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll released last week. Those results are comparable to an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll in 1994, though fewer expressed concern that religion and politics were mixing too much. Americans are more wary of religion’s influence on politicians themselves: 63 percent continue to say political leaders should not rely on their religious beliefs in making policy decisions.

Supporters of Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum take a very different view on religion’s role in politics in both polls. Nearly six in 10 said the country has gone too far in keeping church and state separate in the Post-ABC poll, while fewer than four in 10 of Mitt Romney’s supporters or the overall public says this. And while 30 percent of all Americans and 24 percent of Romney backers say there’s been “too little” talk of faith and politics in the Pew survey, that surges to 55 percent among Santorum’s supporters.

Is Obama alienating white Catholics?

Nearly twice as many white Catholics say the Obama administration is unfriendly toward religion as said this two years ago, up from 17 to 31 percent and possibly a result of a heated controversy over requiring religiously affiliated employers to cover birth control in their health plans.

Still, more white Catholics continue to say Obama is friendly than unfriendly, and Post-ABC polls find Obama’s approval rating among white Catholics has changed little since the controversy gained steam.

Both the Post-ABC and Pew polls were conducted among random national samples of adults using landline and cell phones. Information about Pew’s methodology can be found here.

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By  |  02:48 PM ET, 03/22/2012

Categories:  Barack Obama, 2012 polls, GOP nomination, Presidential Approval

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