We know evangelical Christians are predominantly conservative and support Republicans. The reason Donald Trump maintains his power is because the Christian Right refuses to waver in its support of him, no matter how obvious his incompetence is to everybody else. We also know roughly 81% of white evangelicals voted for Trump in 2016, helping him get the electoral votes he needed.
Here’s the flip side of that story.
For the past decade, religious “nones” have been the fastest growing religious demographic in the country. The percent of Americans with no religious affiliation has basically doubled since 2000. However, the percent of non-religious Americans who vote has not grown at the same rate. Simply put, we punch below our weight.
We’re roughly 25% of the American public, but only 15% of American voters.
Why would politicians pay attention to us when we can’t deliver votes for them?
Heading into the midterms, then, there were two looming questions: Would evangelical support for the GOP stay steady? And would non-religious Americans turn into a powerful bloc for Democrats by voting in greater numbers?
Well, thanks to NBC News exit polling, we know some of the answers.
They say 75% of white evangelicals supported Republican candidates for the House. (Look near the bottom of the graphic below.)
That’s slightly less Republican support than we saw with Trump in 2016, but it’s no serious movement for white evangelicals away from the GOP. And remember that this was a midterm, not a presidential election. There was lower turnout, and the ones who voted were presumably more hardcore voters. It’s not exactly an apples to apples comparison.
As for the Nones, you can see 70% of them voted for Democrats. Again, no big surprise there.
But what percentage of all voters are we talking here?
This is where we saw something incredible:
According to the Pew Research Center, while only 12% of the voters were religiously unaffiliated in 2014, that number went up to 17% of voters this year. A major jump after a decade of steadiness.
If we’re 17% of the voting population, and 70% of us vote for Democrats, it means candidates who want our support would be wise to play up their support for church/state separation, science education, comprehensive sex ed, reason-based legislation, etc. We’re not nearly as powerful as the white evangelical voting bloc — 26% of voters, 75% of whom go for Republicans — but we’re a constituency that Democrats shouldn’t ignore.
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