July 9, 2012

Atheism: On the Rise and We Vote


Staks Rosch ended a recent post on the drop in atheist support for President Obama since 2008 with a gem of a sentence:
Atheism is on the rise and we vote!
It seems that President Obama does indeed have an atheist problem, one that could cost him dearly. Polling data show that Obama is losing support among White atheists and non-Christians, a group roughly the same size as the number of African-Americans who voted in 2008.

Writing in The Hill, Mark S. Mellman notes:
Reclaiming the godless must be a priority. The campaign has a religious outreach coordinator, but who serves to rally the atheist community?
Mellman posed the above question as a rhetorical device. It seems that he does not really think that the Obama administration should attempt to court atheist voters. In fact, he characterizes such a suggestion as "absurd." He's making a mistake.

While it is entirely possible that Obama's loss of support among atheist voters has little to do with his policies and simply reflects economic dissatisfaction or some other factors, such a possibility would ignore much of the buzz in the atheist community. Based on anecdotal reports, it seems a bit more likely that President Obama's refusal to embrace the reality-based community is hurting him. As Rosch notes, "Atheists seem tired of being taken for granted by a party that doesn’t even pay lip-service to their values."

I do not anticipate large numbers of atheist voters shifting their support from Obama to Mitt Romney. Instead, I expect some will shift their support to third party candidates while others will not vote at all. Even those who will likely vote for Obama again seem like they are doing so with far less enthusiasm than was evident in 2008.