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The 2020 election’s most crucial faith group is one you’ve never heard of

Oct 16, 2020

By Ryan Burge

There’s been a lot of discussion about the role of religion in the current presidential election, with pundits prognosticating whether President Donald Trump can still count on 80% of white evangelicals to vote for him as they did in 2016, or whether Joe Biden, an old-school Northeastern white Catholic, can erode his fellow religionists’ support for Trump, whom they backed by a 20 point margin over Hillary Clinton.

However, the most important religious group to the 2020 presidential election is not really a religious group at all.

When asked to state their religious preference on a survey, a growing share of Americans shy away from picking a specific flavor of Christianity, and don’t affiliate with other, smaller religious groups like Hindus or Mormons. They are also uncomfortable describing their views as atheist or agnostic.

Instead, when they are faced with a question about religious preference by a pollster, they check the box next to the words, “nothing in particular.”

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9 comments on “The 2020 election’s most crucial faith group is one you’ve never heard of

  • How do the “nothing in particulars” constitute a faith group? Oh that’s right, the guy who wrote this piece is a “pastor” (read: not a real job), so he thinks that everything has be a faith of some sort.

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  • Once again, an article that focuses on Democrat vs Republican. Democrats and Republicans each make up about 30% of registered voters, and can be counted on to vote along party lines.

    The real deal breaker is the demographic that accounts for the bulk (about 40%) of voters: Independents.

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  • I don’t know about anyone else, but I just feel to be holding my breath at the moment … just waiting to see what the next 2-3 weeks will bring. Either way, it’s going to be so momentous and have such far-reaching consequences (for better or for worse, including for those of us thousands of miles away), yet right now I’m only seeing question marks. Someone reminded me this morning that at this point in the 2016 election, the NY Times were giving Hillary Clinton a 91% chance of winning. The election is close enough now that it’s hard to really focus on anything else … yet the situation is so unlike any previous election that it feels impossible to read the runes. It’s part of the madness that’s taken hold of politics in the US and UK these last 4 years: there’s no rhyme or reason, no government for the public good, so it has become impossible to predict what will happen next. Everything’s become so random. It’s a deeply uncomfortable, helpless feeling – like a kind of mental paralysis. Anyone else feeling the same way, or is it just me?

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  • Marco

    Your comment describes a feeling of time suspended, moving in slow motion. I immediately remembered a passage from the book Tuck Everlasting 

    “The first week of August hangs at the very top of the summer, the top of the live-long year, like the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning. The weeks that come before are only a climb from balmy spring, and those that follow a drop to the chill of autumn, but the first week of August is motionless, and hot. It is curiously silent, too, with blank white dawns and glaring noons, and sunsets smeared with too much color. Often at night there is lightning, but it quivers all alone. There is no thunder, no relieving rain. These are strange and breathless days, the dog days, when people are led to do things they are sure to be sorry for after.”― Natalie Babbitt, Tuck Everlasting

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  • Marco

    Yes, definitely! But it seems to be some small amount of relief that there are massive crowds here voting early and voting by mail. This lowers the suspense and stress that I would have been feeling if we were to have an election day where everyone showed up all together at the same time. If that were the case I’d be sweating it out and sinking even deeper into doom and gloom. Of course I can’t guarantee that all of those people cramming ballots into street ballot boxes are voting for Biden and not all of those tenacious citizens waiting in line for four hours are voting my own personal preference but I’m quite relieved to be well underway.

    The present time is, as I feel it, the top of that Ferris wheel. We’ve inched up the incline of the past four years, now as we pause in our turning I’m just getting a view of the steep decline that we will soon be rocketing down. I just hope all the mechanisms hold together. Like in a Ferris wheel, I feel we are crammed into a rickety little metal basket and at the mercy of the crew who assembled the mechanical beast the night before. I always hope they weren’t partying too hard the night before and after I get off the wheel I always make a solemn vow that I’ll never get back on it again! But here we are rounding the zenith once again.

    In the distance I see that you are all riding the Brexit wheel and I wonder if you are about to go flying off your wheel in a catastrophic free fall.

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  • Laurie,

    If only it were just the voters we needed to worry about … I suspect that (as last time) the voters will come through. But after that it’s all down to those mechanisms, isn’t it. And they’ve been deliberately tampered with of late.

    And yes, you’re absolutely right about the Brexit wheel. It’s a very similar situation, actually: anyone who still places any trust whatsoever in what the UK government says really hasn’t been paying attention. Right now it’s making No Deal noises (handily rechristened “Australian Deal” because it sounds better, but Australia only has the odd agreement here and there with the EU, certainly nothing approaching a Free Trade Agreement) … but this is a government that says whatever it wants people to believe at any given moment and sees Truth as an outdated inconvenience. We’ll know what kind of agreement we get with the EU, if any, when it happens and not a minute before. That said, it IS clear now that even if we get a deal at all, it will be wholly inadequate and inflict a vast amount of chaos and pain on a country that, like most of the rest of the world, is still in the grip of pandemic. But that’s actually a plus for this couldn’t-give-a-shit government, because when all that Brexit pain starts to hit they’ll just blame covid and keep talking about the Great British Blitz spirit …

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  • Marco

    Right now it’s making No Deal noises

    Yes, we’re getting a few mentions of that here on the news.

    this is a government that says whatever it wants people to believe at any given moment and sees Truth as an outdated inconvenience

    Well, that’s familiar. 🙁

    all that Brexit pain starts to hit they’ll just blame covid and keep talking about the Great British Blitz spirit …

    Actually, that’s familiar too but our version is the old American exceptionalism and pull yourself up by our bootstraps cuz we’re the BEST.

    USA! USA!

    I’m pretty sure we’re all up shit’s creek without a paddle.

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  • Laurie

    We are indeed. Over there you at least have the chance to elect a paddle in a couple of weeks’ time, though. And if you do, you’ll also be throwing a lifeline to us over here, as there’s no doubt a Trump victory would lead to our Johnson/Cummings combo becoming even more dangerous as well. So I’m fervently hoping for a Biden victory for our sakes over here, as well as yours over there. The thought of 4 more years of THIS is just too horrific.

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