WASHINGTON, July 28 (Xinhua) -- Very religious Americans are more likely to identify with the Republican Party, a trend that remains consistent despite changes in recent years regarding which parties Americans identify with, according to a Gallup poll released Monday.
Despite a shift in Americans' political identifications over the last six years, the relationship between Americans' religiousness and their party preference is a persistent and well-documented social pattern that has remained extraordinarily stable over the last six-and-a-half years, Gallup found.
About half of "very religious" Americans are Republicans, with 49 percent calling themselves Republican or leaning toward the GOP, and 38 percent of those who are "moderately religious" calling themselves Republicans or leaning toward that party.
The underlying explanations for the relationship are complex, and have to do with the historical development of partisan politics in the decades since former Presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan sat in the White House; differing positions of the parties on moral and values issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage; and geographic patterns of residency that are simultaneously related to religiousness and partisanship.
The poll comes just four months ahead of the mid-term elections, and at a time when the GOP is trying to change its image to a more modern, more inclusive party that welcomes minorities, especially Hispanics.
Indeed, with rapidly shifting demographics in which white Americans will no longer comprise a majority in decades to come, experts said it is crucial to GOP success to get more minorities on board.
Currently, many of the GOP's rising stars are not white Americans, from Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, whose parents are immigrants from India, to Mexican-American Governor of the U.S. state of New Mexico Susanna Martinez.
At the same time, Democrats face the challenge of attempting to broaden their party's appeal beyond the base of those who are moderately or non-religious, a tactic that most likely will require effort to frame the party's positions on social justice and equality issues in a way that is compatible with a high degree of religiousness, Gallup found.