So what's the current state of the God Gap? A good deal less robust than it was in 2008.
Just in is a new Hartford Courant/UConn poll that tabulates presidential preference by frequency of (reported) worship attendence. And what we find is that frequent attenders prefer the GOP ticket (Romney/Ryan) by 51 percent to 43 percent. That's down by one-third from the 55-43 margin for the GOP (McCain/Pain) in 2008.
Then there are the occasional attenders, who in 2008 preferred Obama/Biden 57-42. That margin has now been cut by nearly two-thirds, to 49-43. Finally. we have those who never darken the door of a house of worship. They strongly prefer Obama/Biden, but by a modestly smaller margin than in 2008: 61-31 compared to 67-30.
The religious demographic that's most up for grabs this year are the truly lukewarm--those who report going to services once or twice a month. Ten percent of them are undecided--twice the proportion of the rest of the attendence cohorts. But at 14 percent of the voting population, they're also the smallest.
What's most striking about the God Gap this year is that for the first time since 1960 (!) it's smaller than the Gender Gap. In 2008, women preferred the Democratic ticket to the Republican one by 13 points; the Courant/UConn poll show that gap now running at 17 points. In 2008, men preferred the Democratic ticket by a single point; they are now going Republican by 12 points. The differential between the two gaps was 12 points in 2008; it's now running at 29 points.
It seems, in short, that gender is now trumping religious identity. That is, women who are more religious are finding themselves pushed away from the GOP by the Party's libertarian economics and stricter-than-ever social conservatism. Meanwhile, less religious men are moving strongly towards the GOP because they like the tough economics and think Obama's going to take away their guns.
The trouble for the Republicans is that there are more women than men in the electorate.