Religion and Political Party Preference
Political Identification By Religion
The Pew Center for People and the Press, in a study released November 5, 2003, sums up the political affiliations of Americans by religion as follows:
R D Protestants 33 32 White Evangelicals 44 23 White Mainline 35 26 Black 5 68 White Catholics 30 30 Regular Attendance 33 29 Rarely Attend 25 31 Jewish 17 54 No Religion 14 28 Total 29 30
In short, Black Protestants, and White Catholics who rarely attend church, as well as Jews and people with "No Religion" tend to vote Democratic. White Protestants and White Catholics who regularly attend church tend to vote Republican. White Evangelicals are more likely to vote Republican than White Mainline Protestants, but not by as big a margin as one might expect. Support for Republicans has long been characterized as the "Christian Right". Some call an important part of the Democratic Party's base the "Non-Christian Left".
The Democrats support among "mainline white Protestants" is far weaker than conventional wisdom would suppose it to be, and Democratic support among Catholics has declined greatly in the past generation. Catholics were once a reliable Democratic constituency and now, in part as a result of white Catholic assimiliation into U.S. society (white Catholics were once viewed mostly as an immigrant community in the U.S.) and in part as a result of the Abortion issue, Catholic support for Democrats has declined to the point where Catholics are now among the largest groups of swing voters in the United States.
Religious trends in political affiliation influenced the 2000 Presidential election. In the 2000 election, George W. Bush won every single state in which the largest religious denomination in the state was not Catholic. (The principal source of data on the geography of religious denominations in this diary entry is Glenmary (see the Statistics section of the main Religion and Politics page.
He won every single state in which the Southern Baptist Convention was the largest religious denomination (with percentage of Bush-Gore vote won by Bush divided by percentage of population that is white, shown after each one):
- Alabama (58%/71%)
- Arkansas (53%/80%)
- Georgia (56%/65%);
- Kentucky (58%/90%)
- Mississippi (59%/61%)
- North Carolina (56%/72%)
- Oklahoma (61%/76%)
- South Carolina (58%/67%)
- Tennessee (52%/80%)
- Virginia (54%/72%)
Given that blacks, who are largely members of black churches the define themselves as Baptist, African Methodist, or Pentecostal denominations voted 90% or more for Gore, the strength of the Bush vote among whites, in these states is pretty stunning.
George W. Bush also won every state in which the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormons) was the largest religious denomination (with % of Bush-Gore vote for Bush):
- Idaho (71%)
- Utah (66%)
George W. Bush won West Virginia (53%), in which the United Methodist Church is the largest religious denomination.
Al Gore didn't win electoral votes from every state in which Catholicism was the largest religious denomination (religion is not the sole explaination of the election). George W. Bush also won in:
Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Florida , Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri , Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Texas and Wyoming also went for Bush (in the case of Florida, only according to the U.S. Supreme Court). But religion is a good partial predictor of 2000 election results for the very obvious reasons shown by the Pew Study.