May 31, 2019

We Need to Increase Voter Turnout Among the Religiously Unaffiliated

how different religious groups voted in 2018 midterm election

Ted McLaughlin (jobsanger) recently shared this graph from the Pew Research Center showing how various religious groups voted in the 2018 U.S. midterm election. He was right to think at least some of us would find it interesting.

There are a few things that stand out to me about the graph. First, look at the "no religion" category after reminding yourself that most of those in this category do not identify themselves as atheists. Some do but many more belong to the "spiritual but not religious" group. Now note that while this group voted for Democratic candidates by a wide margin, 28% voted for Republicans in 2018. 28% is far smaller than 70%, but we should remember that there is some political diversity among the religiously unaffiliated.

Now turn your attention to the Jewish and "other faiths" groups. You still see some diversity here but a bit less. On the other hand, Catholics are almost evenly split. Imagine all those Catholics voting for candidates who might actually support reproductive rights! Protestants leaned Republican but also show quite a bit of diversity.

Finally, consider the evangelicals. To nobody's surprise, they lean strongly Republican. Still, the 22% should remind us that there is an evangelical left even though we don't hear much about them these days.

The Pew report, which was released toward the end of 2018, points out that these numbers were very similar to the 2014 numbers except that Catholics were much more even this time. They also mention on piece of good news:

Analysis of the religious composition of the 2018 midterm electorate shows that 17% of voters were religiously unaffiliated, up from 12% in 2014 and 2010.
That's progress, but we still have a long way to go. Why? Roughly 26% of the 2018 voters identified as "White evangelical/born-again Christian." Clearly, we need to do a better job of getting religiously unaffiliated voters to the polls. If we want to slow the church-state violations and put the theocratic ambitions to rest, we need to beat the religious right at voter turnout.