How The Tribes Were Discovered

Methodology for deciding the categories of the Twelve Tribes of American politics.

BY: John Green and Steven Waldman

 

To us, the most interesting findings were:



The "Religious Right" and their opposite, the "Religious Left" are almost exactly the same size.



Mainline Protestants and Catholics are in the midst of a massive re-sorting. Formerly Republican mainline Protestants have shifted to the Democratic Party. Heretofore conservative Catholics have become Republicans in roughly equal numbers.

Democratic Party tends to do well with Seculars and "spiritual but not religious" types - but they just don't show up on election day as much as the folks who go to church.

Despite intense courtship by the Republicans, Latino Catholic remain steadfastly Democratic. Despite surprisingly conservative views on social issues, Black Protestants do, too.

Centrist Catholics are torn between both parties - and also happen to be highly concentrated in key battleground states. If you want to influence the election results, find a "convertible Catholic" in Ohio or Pennsylvania and arrange for Oprah to give him a car if he votes your way.

The definitions of our categories are:

Religious right = Traditionalist Evangelicals

Heartland Culture Warriors = Traditionalist Mainline Protestant plus Traditionalist Catholics plus Latter Day Saints (Mormons)

Moderate Evangelicals = Centrist Evangelical

White Bread Protestants = Centrist Mainline Protestants

Convertible Catholics = Centrist White Catholics

The Religious Left = Modernist Evangelical Protestants plus Modernist Mainline Protestant plus Modernist Catholics

Black Protestants = Black Protestants

Spiritual But Not Religious = Unaffiliated Believers

Latinos = Latino Catholics plus Latino Protestants

Jews = Jews

Muslim & Other Faiths =Other Faiths

Secular = Secular plus Atheist plus Agnostic

These categories were defined by a combination of denominational affiliation, religious beliefs and practices. For further details see

the original report

. For example, evangelical Protestants were members of denominations that are characterized by evangelical doctrine, such as personal conversion and a high view of biblical authority. Within the largest religious traditions, the "traditionalists" were those that held the highly orthodox beliefs and saw themselves as defenders of their traditions. In contrast, the "modernists" held highly heterodox beliefs and saw themselves as adapting to the modern world.

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