There are many factors influencing voting behaviour but in the US one of the most powerful is religious affiliation.
The 2023 PRRI American Values Survey (see the recent blog post on American fears about democracy being at stake for more PRRI findings) demonstrates dramatic differences in various religious groups intention to vote in a Presidential election between Trump and Biden. The survey sample size was 101,000 from all US states.
All Americans are pretty evenly split with 48% of registered voters supporting Biden and 46% Trump.
Yet 79% of Black Protestants support Joe Biden compared to 16% going for Trump. In contrast 76% of White evangelical Protestants support Trump and only 17% Biden.
59% of White Catholics support the oft-divorced, alleged rapist and sexual predator Trump while only 37% support Biden. 57% of White mainline/non-evangelical Protestants support Trump compared with 38% supporting Biden.
Non-Christian religions supported Biden by 63% compared with 28% Trump. PRRI defines this group as Jewish Americans who constitute 2% of the total US public while Muslims, Buddhists, and Hindus each constitute only 1% of the public. All other non-Christian religions constitute an additional 1%.
Biden is well in front among the religiously unaffiliated with 67% support compared with Trump 29%.
Big majorities of respondents Americans think the re-election of the candidate they oppose poses a threat to American democracy and way of life. For Democrats 91% rate Trump a threat to democracy and 86% of Republicans think Biden would be.
Overall, though, a majority of Americans (except White non-college graduates) believe Trump is a threat to democracy.
All these figures need, of course, to be put in some context.
White Christians now account for fewer than half of the public. Today, only 43% of Americans identify as white and Christian, and only 30% as white and Protestant. In 1976, roughly eight in ten (81%) Americans identified as white and identified with a Christian denomination, and a majority (55%) were white Protestants.
The report says “White evangelical Protestants are in decline—along with white mainline Protestants and white Catholics. White evangelical Protestants were once thought to be bucking a longer trend, but over the past decade their numbers have dropped substantially. Fewer than one in five (17%) Americans are white evangelical Protestant, but they accounted for nearly one-quarter (23%) in 2006. Over the same period, white Catholics dropped five percentage points from 16% to 11%, as have white mainline Protestants, from 18% to 13%.”
The report has lots of rich insights into the US. 72% of Republicans believe society is becoming “too soft and feminine” compared with 24% of Democrats. Republican culture wars are also unpopular – despite what you hear from Republicans in Congress and various States – with overwhelming majorities agreeing that “We should teach our children both the good and bad aspects of our history so that they can learn from the past” and “public school teachers and librarians are professionals whom we should trust to provide our kids with appropriate curium and bools that teach the good and bad of American history.”
Despite the culture wars both sides’ top critical issues are the increasing costs of housing and everyday expenses. There is, however, a huge gap of 54% points in Democrat and Republican attitudes to climate change although at least 12% of Republicans, unlike Tony Abbott and most Republicans, say climate change is a critical issue.
Perhaps, due to either Congressional results since the Supreme Court threw out Roe, or belief that they have now won, only 32% of Republicans see abortion as a critical issue. Confirming the surprise 2022 Congressional mid-term election results a very large combination of Democrats and Independents would only vote for a candidate who shares their views on abortion.
Non-Christian religious groups are growing, but they still represent less than one in ten Americans combined. Jewish Americans Muslims, Buddhists, and Hindus make up 5% of the population and other non-Christian religions are an additional 1%.
There is also an age gap between religious grouping and Muslims, Hindus, and Buddhists are all far younger than white Christian groups. At least one-third of Muslims (42%), Hindus (36%), and Buddhists (35%) are under the age of 30, the report finds.
In good news for rationalism and the US’ future “Roughly one-third (34%) of religiously unaffiliated Americans are also under 30. In contrast, white Christian groups are aging. Slightly more than one in ten white Catholics (11%), white evangelical Protestants (11%), and white mainline Protestants (14%) are under 30. Approximately six in ten white evangelical Protestants (62%), white Catholics (62%), and white mainline Protestants (59%) are at least 50 years old,” according to PRRI.
“The Catholic Church is experiencing an ethnic transformation. Twenty-five years ago, nearly nine in ten (87%) Catholics were white and non-Hispanic, compared to 55% today. Fewer than four in ten (36%) Catholics under the age of 30 are white and, non-Hispanic.
“Atheists and agnostics account for a minority of all religiously unaffiliated. Most are secular. Atheists and agnostics account for only about one-quarter (27%) of all religiously unaffiliated Americans. Nearly six in ten (58%) religiously unaffiliated Americans identify as secular, someone who is not religious; 16% of religiously unaffiliated Americans nonetheless report that they identify as a ‘religious person’.”
But despite the trends it is likely that nearly all US political candidates will keep pledging allegiances to the Flag and God – whatever they do when the voters aren’t watching.