The Twelve Tribes of American Politics

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

BY: John Green and Steven Waldman

 

Continued from page 1



Percent of voting-age population: 8.1%

Percent of 2004 voters: 7.0%

Theology: The core of the white Catholic community, they outnumber conservative Catholics by nearly two to one. Moderate in practice (42% claim to attend worship weekly) and belief (less than one-half agree with papal infallibility). 52% agree that "all the world's great religions are equally true and good."

Examples

  • Maria Shriver
  • Arnold Schwartzenegger
  • John Kerry
  • Cardinal Roger Mahony

  • Ideology: Conservative: 29%, Moderate: 49%, Liberal: 22%

    Party: Republican: 34%, Independent: 19%, Democrat: 47%

    Political Trend: The quintessential swing vote. Clinton edged out Bush senior, Bush junior edged out Gore in 2000.

    How they voted: 55% of Convertible Catholics voted for Bush, making up 7% of his total vote, while 45% voted for Kerry, accounting for 6% of his total vote.

    What they care about: Half gave priority to economic issues, with a special emphasis on liberal social welfare policy. To the dismay of the Catholic Church, small majorities are pro-choice and supportive of stem cell research. They are moderate on foreign policy. Only about one-fifth report that their faith is important to their political thinking.

    In the 2004 election, Convertible Catholics were divided between the economy and foreign policy as the most important issues, though Convertible Catholic Bush voters cited social issues as the determining factor in their vote, while Kerry voters were far more concerned with the economy. (See details.)




    Percent of voting-age population: 12.6%

    Percent of 2004 voters: 14%

    Theology: Theologically liberal Catholics, mainline and evangelical Protestants. Less church-bound (less than one-quarter report weekly worship attendance) and pluralistic in their beliefs (two-thirds agree that "all the world's great religious are equally true and good".)

    Examples

  • Rev. Jim Wallis
  • William Sloane Coffin
  • Rev. Bob Edgar
  • Mario Cuomo

  • Ideology: Conservative: 20%, Moderate: 50%, Liberal: 30%

    Party: Republican: 31%, Independent: 18%, Democratic: 51%

    Political trend: Probably growing in size and moving in a Democratic direction.

    How they voted: 70% of the Religious Left voted for Kerry, making up 21% of his total vote, while 30% voted for Bush, making up 9% of his total.

    What they care about: Liberal on most everything. On marriage, 42% favor same-sex unions and 29% civil unions; 77% are pro-choice on abortion. A majority opposes the war in Iraq. But only a few report that their faith is important to their political thinking, and overall, they oppose the political involvement of religious organizations.

    In the 2004 election, the Religious Left based its decision on foreign policy, though Religious Left Kerry voters were overwhelmingly concerned with social issues and the economy, and Bush voters in this group cited foreign policy as their most important issue. (See details.)




    Percent of voting-age population: 5.3%

    Percent of 2004 voters: 3.0%

    Who they are: Most report spiritual beliefs--85% believe in God and more than half are sure there is some kind of life after death--but they don't much like houses of worship or organized religion. They report no formal religious affiliation and a majority report seldom or never attending worship services. 47% are under age 35.

    Examples


    Ideology: Conservative: 26%, Moderate: 49%, Liberal: 25%

    Party: Republican: 28%, Independent: 37%, Democratic: 35%

    Political Trend: Growing in numbers but politically divided.

    How they voted: 63% of the Spiritual But Not Religious group voted for Kerry, accounting for 4% of his total vote, while 37% voted for Bush, making up 2% of his total vote.

    What they care about: An eclectic mix. They're liberal on economics, abortion, and foreign policy - more than half believe the United States has no special role to play in international affairs -- but 58% favor traditional marriage. Only about one-fifth report that their faith is important to their political thinking.

    In the 2004 eleciton, members of this group cited the economy as the most important factor in determining their vote, but Kerry voters placed the most weight on social issues, while SBNR Bush voters were most concerned with foreign policy. (See details.)




    Percent of voting-age population: 10.7%

    Percent of 2004 voters: 11.0%

    Who they are: Non-religious, atheists, and agnostics.

    Examples

  • Bill Maher
  • Ron Reagan, Jr.
  • Howard Dean

  • Ideology: Conservative: 17%, Moderate: 48%, Liberal: 35%

    Party: Republican: 26%, Independent 27%, Democratic: 47%

    Political trend: A Democratic bloc that has been steadily growing in size.

    How they voted: 74% of Seculars voted for Kerry, accounting for 16% of his total vote, while 26% voted for Bush, making up 5% of his total vote.

    What they care about: The group that is most uncomfortable when candidates talk about their personal faith (54%). Very liberal on social issues: 83% are pro-choice and 59% favor same-sex marriage. Liberal on foreign policy, moderate on economics, and quite young (47% under age 35).

    In the 2004 election, Seculars were most concerned with foreign policy, but Secular Kerry voters placed by far the most weight on social issues, and Secular Bush voters cited the economy. (See details.)




    Continued on page 3: »

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