The Twelve Tribes of American Politics

The religious groups that comprise the U.S. electorate--and how they voted in 2004.

On the eve of the 2004 presidential election, Beliefnet introduced the "Twelve Tribes of American Politics" to demonstrate how the religious groups that factor in American political decision-making are a great deal more complicated than simply a division between the Religious Right and the Religious Left.

Using data from the Fourth National Survey on Religion and Politics (see full study), Beliefnet defined the religious groupings that make up our political landscape. The data was later updated to include results from surveys completed after the November 2004 election. It now shows both longterm trends and specific preferences during the 2004 election season.

What the data show is that the Religious Right and the Religious Left are almost exactly the same size. The former has had a much greater impact for the past 25 years largely because of superior organization and drive. (Political junkies click here for a full explanation of methodology.)


What effect will the tribes have on the 2008 race? In coming months, we'll find out.

Click here for a complete analysis of what the data means.

Percent of voting-age population:
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John Green and Steven Waldman
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