By David Niose
The recent midterm elections reflect the increasing clout of secular voters, a group that has grown significantly in recent years, and at least one major party is starting to take note.
According to polling data released by Pew, 17 percent of voters in 2018 were religiously unaffiliated, up from only 11 percent in 2006 and 12 percent in both 2010 and 2014. While this unaffiliated bloc grew by about half, the “Protestant/other Christian” bloc was shrinking, down from 55 percent in 2006 and 2010, to 53 percent in 2014, to only 47 percent this year.
As impressive as these figures are for the religiously unaffiliated (also known as “Nones”), the numbers suggest that there is room for even more growth. The 17 percent figure, for example, still trails the overall size of the religiously unaffiliated demographic nationwide (24 percent of the United States population as a whole, according to PRRI data, and an even larger percentage of the younger population). The Nones were in single digits a generation ago, but now they are one of the largest and youngest religious demographics.
The growth of the influence of Nones would appear to be good news for Democrats, as recent history shows that the unaffiliated tend to lean heavily blue. In the 2010, 2014 and 2018 midterms, about seven in ten Nones voted Democratic. By comparison, 50 percent of Catholics votes for Democrats in 2018, and slightly fewer in 2010 and 2014. Protestants have favored Republicans in each of the last four midterm elections, according to the Pew data, with white evangelicals being the most solidly in the GOP corner (75 percent in 2018 and similar figures in previous years).
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