A new Pew Research Center poll shows for the first time that non-religious people are now the largest faith-related voting bloc in the United States.
“Nones,” or the religious unaffiliated, are among the fastest growing demographic in the nation, outnumbering Catholics, white mainline Protestants and white evangelical Protestants. According to Pew, religious “Nones” constitute one-fifth of all registered voters and more than a quarter of Democratic and Democratic-leaning registered voters.
Roughly 54 percent of the non-religious consider themselves as Democrats or lean Democratic, while only 23 percent at least are Republican leaning. The Washington Post says the Democratic “Nones” will provide a counterweight to white evangelical Protestants, a historically powerful voting bloc for Republicans.
The rise of the religiously unaffiliated, which is making up a larger share of American voters, has not translated into actual votes. Exit polls of those who actually cast votes, as opposed to pre-election polls of registered voters, have traditionally shown that the unaffiliated under perform at the ballot box.
“While the group is growing rapidly in the general public, its growth has been much less dramatic in the electorate,” the Pew study said. “It could be the ‘nones’ are not connected, almost by definition, to religious institutions, which can play an important role in spurring turnout and interest in politics.”The study also points out younger voters are leading the way for the non-religious and they also vote historically less. The Washington Post states that in 2008, 72 percent of voters said it was important for a president to have strong religious beliefs. That number is down to 62 percent today.
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