Since the election of Barack Obama in 2008, and continuing through the presidency of Donald Trump, how have different religious and non-religious groups changed their political leanings? Are atheists more or less Democratic today? Are evangelicals more or less Republican?
Using 2018 data from the Cooperative Congressional Election Study, Professor Ryan P. Burge of Eastern Illinois University looked at those changes and produced this really interesting chart:
The red dots represent 2008 data while yellow is 2018. You can see that atheists have shifted to the left (i.e. more Democratic), as have Mormons, but most of those other groups have moved to the right.
There are 34 traditions listed in the graph above. Of those thirty-four, just seven moved leftward on the partisanship spectrum, while 27 moved to the right. Recall that anything more than +.13 difference is greater than the shift overall among Americans. There are many religious traditions that moved much more than this. Many small traditions like “other Pentecostal”, “independent Baptist”, “other Lutheran,” and “Other Baptist” fit the bill here and all moved to the right.
For atheists that entire shift occurred within the past two years — for obvious reasons, I would say. It’s something every Democratic candidate should keep in mind as they look to rally their voters over the next year. Speaking only in religious terms is a lost opportunity to connect with the ever-growing number of Americans who have no religious affiliation. They need our votes, and they ignore us at their peril.
Meanwhile, religion is becoming increasingly synonymous with the GOP, something that ought to be bad news for both groups. White evangelicals, for example, will have the stain of this administration’s policies for decades to come while the GOP will be stuck with conservative religious dogma even as voters shift their views in a more socially progressive direction.
American religion is becoming more and more synonymous with the Republican Party while those who have no religious affiliation tend to be the (weak) base for the Democrats. If one wants to be an active Christian but disagrees with Republican politics, where do they go? Despite the fact that most Democrats do currently claim a religious affiliation, it seems that the places of refuge are dwindling every year.
Liberals have long said church/state separation is good for both sides. The 2016 election effectively merged those worlds on the Right. It’s a mistake both sides will hopefully be paying for in the future.
(Featured image via Shutterstock. Thanks to Kim for the link)