In latest self-selected survey, Buddhists still love Bernie Sanders, favor Hillary Clinton even less than 3 months ago

In latest self-selected survey, Buddhists still love Bernie Sanders, favor Hillary Clinton even less than 3 months ago May 9, 2016

Bernie Sanders still lags behind Hillary Clinton in pledged delegates (1415 to 1705 according to google; 1420 for Sanders according to FiveThirtyEight). With less than 1000 delegates to go in the coming primaries, most pundits are calling the contest for Clinton. And while Buddhists don’t vote as a block or constitute a large population in coming state elections, it is worth watching continued developments in Buddhist presidential preference.

Buddhist influence in the elections will, for instance, vary by region. In Western States, where it is a more proportionally sizable religion, Buddhism may play a stronger role in close contests. And as we’ve seen so far (map below), Sanders has won all West coast states.  If that trend continues and New Mexico goes to Sanders, he will have won all states where Buddhism is the second largest religion except Nevada, where Clinton won by a slim margin (52.6 to 47.3%).


Largest non-Christian Religions in America by State
Second largest religion in states (via this 2014 blog post).
Democratic primary results as of May 9
Democratic primary results as of May 9

As we see from polling done here, support for Bernie Sanders has held steady since the first survey in late February. At that time 63.8% of respondents most supported Bernie Sanders, while 24.5% chose Hillary Clinton. In March poll, 68.5% selected Sanders while 18.6% selected Clinton. Clinton’s support remains steady this month, while Sanders has dropped slightly to 66.4%.

May Presidential Preference Poll shows increased support for Bernie Sanders, Donald Trump
April/May Presidential Preference Poll shows continued support for Bernie Sanders

Support for Donald Trump is at 4.3%, as is that of Jill Stein (Green Party), while Gary Johnson (the Libertarian candidate) is at 5%. Ted Cruz and John Kasich, both of whom have now dropped out, got less than 1% each.

Overall this month’s response rate was disappointing, with only 140 surveys completed (down from over 300 in the previous two polls). This month we also saw a major shift in ages, with the 45-59 year olds and 60+ age groups growing significantly:

May Presidential Preference Poll - age

Despite that shift, and previous data showing older voters skewing toward Clinton (which is corroborated by national polling), this month’s respondents still overwhelmingly chose Sanders.

May Presidential Preference Poll - -gender-income

The respondent gender-gap closed slightly compared to last month, though it is still overwhelmingly male-dominated. And income levels remain roughly consistent with past polls.

May Presidential Preference Poll - religion

May Presidential Preference Poll - buddhism

Notable this month was the drop in Jodo Shinshu respondents (from 41 to 3) and Soka Gakai (from 7 to 0). I was asked to add a Nichiren category here, which I will do, along with asking people to fill out their “Other” if they wish.

Similarly, we’ve lost nearly all of our “Cradle” Buddhist respondents, down to just 4 (2.9%) from 30 (10%) in last month’s poll, leaving 72% reporting as “Converts” and 25% as “Sympathizers.”

The racial breakdown of this month’s poll shows the lowest diversity yet with only 3 self-identified Asians (who support Bernie Sanders 2 to Hillary Clinton’s 1). The one Black respondent supported Sanders as did both Latino respondents and the one Native American respondent. The large contingent of people reporting mixed race/ethnicity supported Bernie Sanders over Hillary Clinton as well (9 votes to 2, and 1 vote for Gary Johnson).Over 10% of the respondents left that field blank.

Of the female respondents 30 out of 44 selected Sanders (68.2%), 13 selected Clinton (29.5%), and 1 selected Trump.

Keep an eye out late this month for the May/June poll, with data/analysis expected June 6, just ahead of the June 7 primaries.

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