The Public Religion Research Service has created a graph that shows the religious makeup of the groups that voted for Obama and Romney in the recent election. What it shows is that the “nones” — those who don’t affiliate with any religion, though not necessarily atheist — are an important demographic, especially among younger voters, and that Obama unsurprisingly got the overwhelming majority of them.
Mark Silk discusses those numbers:
White Christians–evangelicals, mainliners, and Catholics–made up fully seventy-five of Romney’s coalition but only 38 percent of Obama’s. It’s the age distribution, however, that tells the deeper story.
Romney’s coalition most closely matches the over-65 crowd, only older. It’s whiter and less religiously diverse than seniors are. Call it your great-grandfather’s Oldsmobile…What’s most striking is how evangelicals and Nones change places through the four age cohorts. From old to young, the evangelicals go 30-25-18-9, while the Nones go 9-14-19-32. Romney’s coalition was composed of 37 percent evangelicals and eight percent Nones. Obama’s coalition had 9 percent evangelicals and 23 percent Nones.
All of the attention has gone to demographic groups like Hispanic voters, but with the number of nones growing rapidly, especially among younger voters, secular-minded Americans should soon be an electoral force to be reckoned with. That is likely to create a powerful incentive for politicians who, up to this point, have entirely ignored us. Even those allegedly anti-religious Democrats generally go way out of their way to pander to religious voters, treating Christianity as a de facto national religion. But there is a tipping point, and it’s probably not more than a couple election cycles away, when that will no longer be a viable strategy.