In recent presidential history, Republicans have swamped Democrats among voters who regularly attend worship services -- and in the last two nail-biters they provided more than the margin of victory.
But a new poll out is the latest to suggest that this November won't be a repeat.
The Barna Group, which tracks different faith groups, says Democrat Barack Obama is leading Republican John McCain 43 percent to 34 percent.
Obama's campaign today highlighted the findings that of the 19 faith groups tracked in the poll, McCain is only leading among evangelicals. Obama leads among Protestants, Catholics, and even among born-again but non-evangelical Christians. If he were to win that group, it would be the first time in two decades, the Barna Group said. And among evangelicals, McCain's majority has shrunk from 78 percent to 61 percent.
Still, like other national polls, it shows the race appears to be tightening. Obama led 50 percent to 35 percent in the same poll in early June. The Barna Group noted that Obama is losing ground among several "key faith communities," and the number of undecideds is growing.
McCain has long been viewed with some suspicion by the Christian right, and he has not solidified support among those leaders and voters. He badly needs to do so to win in November.
The Pew Research Center for the People & the Press compiled exit poll data showing that in 2004, Republican George W. Bush beat Democrat John F. Kerry 58 percent to 41 percent among voters who said they attended services once a week -- and 64 percent to 35 percent among those worshipping more than once a week.
Bush won 78 percent of the white evangelical Christian vote, up 10 percentage points from 2000.
In 2000, Bush defeated Democrat Al Gore 57 percent to 40 percent among those worshipping once a week and 63 percent to 36 percent among more frequent worshippers.
In both elections, those attending services at least once a week made up about 43 percent of all voters.
About Political Intelligence
Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.