(RNS) How religion played in the midterm elections

Simply put, the more things changed, the more they stayed the same. According to yesterday’s exit polls, the religious layout of the electorate looks almost identical to the last midterm election in 2010, and not much different from the 2012 presidential election.

In 2010, Protestants voted Republican 59 percent to 38 percent, this time it was 60-38. (White Protestants went from 69-28 to 71-27.) As for Catholics, it was 54-44 Republican in 2010, 53-45 this year, with white Catholics staying at exactly 59-39. For the Nones, it was 68-30 Democratic in 2010 and 69-29 this year. The only significant difference from 2012 came among Catholics, who that year voted narrowly Democratic, 50-48. At 57-42, Protestants were only marginally less Republican.

The one group that appears to have shifted significantly compared to the last midterm were members of “other religions” ”” Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, etc. In 2010, three out of four voted Democratic, while this time around it was two out of three. And given that their proportion of the vote increased from 8 percent to 11 percent, that was not a trivial number of votes.

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2 comments on “(RNS) How religion played in the midterm elections

  1. New Reformation Advocate says:

    So, no real surprises this time. But the huge gaps involved are highly important. Just think about it: among white Protestants, the vote broke overwhelmingly for Republicans, a whopping 71% to a mere 27% for Democrats. That makes the better known “gender gap” look small.

    In stark contrast, the growing number of “Nones” (No religious preference) in this country are virtually the inverse of white Protestants. The “Nones” voted overwhelmingly Democratic, by a comparable lop-sided margin, 69% Democratic versus only 29% Republican. IOW, there’s almost no “purple” when it comes to huge gulf between white Protestants who vote overwhelmingly Red, and their opposites, the Nones, who overwhlemingly Blue.

    One key weakness in this RNS report is that it fails to distinguish the very significant difference between the voting patterns of Roman Catholics who attend church regularly/weekly, versus those Catholics that don’t. The regular attenders at Mass vote far more Republican than those who don’t.

    The polarizations so evident in ths breakdown of the election is ominous, for lots of reasons.

    To paraphrase the Pledge of Allegiance, we seem to be “Two nations, divided by religion” (or the lack thereof).

    David Handy+

  2. Terry Tee says:

    David, I thought exactly the same, and similar patterns are emerging here in the UK with the exception that religion, being so marginal here, is not the prime indicator. Rather, the main predispositions are regional and social class.
    Scotland: Scottish National Party
    South of England with exception of much of London: Conservative
    Metropolitan cities and North of England: Labour
    Midlands: rural, Conservative, rest, Labour.
    The joker in the pack is the UK Independence Party, anti-EU and for immigration law reform.
    In short, our next election (May 2015) could be both polarised and fragmented, and very difficult to predict. I suspect the pollsters will be having many sleepless nights from now on.