The Twelve Tribes of American Politics

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

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Compared to other groups, more likely to care about cultural issues (40% compared to 20% nationally); 84% are pro-life and 89% oppose marriage or civil unions for gays; very strong supporters of Israel (64% say the U.S. should back Israel over the Palestinians). Four-fifths claim that religion is important to their political thinking. This group strongly supports the political involvement of religious organizations.

In the 2004 election, the Religious Right cited social issues as the most important factor in their vote. Those who voted for Bush placed far more emphasis on this than Religious Right Kerry voters, who cited the economy and foreign policy as most important to their decision. (

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Percent of voting-age population:



Percent of 2004 voters:


Who are they:

Conservative Catholics and conservative mainline Protestants, Latter-day Saints, and other smaller groups. Slightly less orthodox than the Religious Right (54% of the Protestants are biblical literalists; 60% of the Catholics agree with papal infallibility) and more theologically diverse. But they are regular churchgoers (three-quarters report attending worship service weekly or more often).


  • George W. Bush
  • William Bennett
  • Mitt Romney

  • Ideology:
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    John Green and Steven Waldman
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