Discuss as:

The role of religion in politics

From NBC's Domenico Montanaro
There is clearly a split among how Democrats and Republicans view the role of religion in public service, according to a new poll made available to First Read that was sponsored by the Interfaith Alliance and conducted by the Democratic polling group, Greenberg Quinlan Rosner.

Three-quarters of Democrats believe a candidate should not use their religion or faith to influence voters to support them, but those numbers are much lower when it comes to Republicans. Only 58% of Republicans believe so. And nearly three in 10 Republicans "strongly disagree" with the statement. Religious conservatives have been the most reliable voters on the GOP side and their turnout is largely credited with helping elect President Bush.

The poll also found that more Republicans than Democrats attend religious services regularly. About 63% of Republicans said so as opposed to about half of Democrats and Independents.

On the influence that clergy and religious leaders should have on voters' decisions, a majority of Republicans believe that they should have at least some influence. Only 38% of Democrats say so.

And on picking Supreme Court justices, more Democrats (85%) than Republicans (68%) believe the next president should pick justices who will protect the separation of church and state.

It's worth noting that Independents had very similar breakouts to Democrats. That's something Democrats count on when it comes to the general election. Numbers of those who self identify as conservative versus liberal are generally higher, so Democrats have to have a broader Independent appeal when it comes to the general election. Kerry, for example, beat Bush when it came to Independents, but he didn't quite win enough of them.