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 2



Percent of voting-age population: 7.3%

Percent of 2004 voters: 5.0%

Who they are: Majority Catholic, but with a large Protestant minority. Fairly orthodox in practice (53% report attending worship once a week or more) and belief (60% of the Catholics agreed with papal infallibility; 58% of the Protestants are biblical literalists).

Examples


Ideology: Conservative: 28%, Moderate: 45%, Liberal: 27%

Party: Republican: 24%, Independent: 22%, Democratic: 54%

Political trend: Rapidly growing; Republicans have made some gains among Latino Protestants, but not yet among the Catholics.

How they voted: 55% of Latino Protestants voted for Kerry, making up 6% of his total vote, while 45% voted for Bush, accounting for 5% of his total.

What they care about: Though identified as ripe for Republican wooing because of their more conservative cultural views (59% oppose abortion or gay marriage), they care twice as much about economics as social issues. More than two-fifths want government spending increased. But a majority says their faith is very important to their political thinking and they strongly support the political involvement of religious organizations.

In the 2004 election, Latino Christians cared most about the economy, as did most Kerry voters in this group, but Latino Christian Bush voters were far more concerned with social issues. (See details.)




Percent of voting-age population: 1.9%

Percent of 2004 voters: 3.0%

Who they are: Common cultural identity mixed with diverse religious beliefs.

Examples

  • Al Franken
  • Allan Dershowitz
  • Barbra Streisand
  • Paul Wolfowitz

  • Ideology: Conservative: 19%, Moderate: 36%, Liberal: 46%

    Party: Republicans: 21%, Independents: 11%, Democrats: 68%

    Political Trend: A strong Democratic group, though Bush has tried to break the Democratic lock on Jewish voters.

    How they voted: 73% of Jews voted for Kerry, accounting for 4% of his total vote, while 27% voted for Bush, making up 1% of his total.

    What they care about: The only group that puts foreign policy first. 75% of Jews say the U.S. should support Israel over the Palestinians--a figure comparable to the Religious Right--and also have moderate to conservative positions on other foreign policy matters. Liberal on economics and especially social issues. Jews are especially troubled by the political involvement of religious organizations and are uncomfortable with politicians discussing their faith in public.

    In the 2004 election, Jewish Bush voters cared most about foreign policy, but Jewish Kerry voters were overwhelmingly concerned about the economy. (See details.)




    Percent of voting-age population: 2.7%

    Percent of 2004 voters: 3.0%

    Who they are: Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Wiccans, and other smaller groups.

    Examples

  • Muhammad Ali
  • Richard Gere
  • Starhawk

  • Ideology: Conservative: 10%, Moderate: 46%, Liberal: 44%

    Party: Republicans: 12%, Independents 33%, Democrats: 55%

    Political Trend: In 2000, Muslims backed Bush, but the other groups went for Gore.

    How they voted: 77% of Muslims and others voted for Kerry, making up 4% of his vote, while 23% voted for Bush, accounting for 1% of his total.

    What they care about: They care more about economics (and are liberal on it) but some (Muslims especially) are conservative on social issues like gay marriage. They oppose the political involvement of religious organizations.

    In the 2004 election, this group cited foreign policy as the issue of most concern to them, but Kerry voters cited social issues and foreign policy as most important, while Bush voters in this category were most concerned about the economy. (See details.)




    Percent of voting-age population: 9.6%

    Percent of 2004 voters: 8.0%

    Who they are: Fairly orthodox in practice (59% report attending worship once a week or more) and belief (56% are biblical literalists). However, the experience of slavery and segregation has produced a distinctive theology.

    Examples

  • Al Sharpton
  • Rev. Jesse Jackson
  • Tavis Smiley
  • T.D. Jakes
  • Coretta Scott King

  • Ideology: Conservative: 27%, Moderate: 48%, Liberal: 25%

    Party: Republicans: 11%, Independents 18%, Democrats: 71%

    Political trendline: Strong Democrats and especially so in 2000.

    How they voted: 83% of Black Protestants voted for Kerry, making up 13% of his total vote, while 17% voted for Bush, making up 3% of his total vote.

    What they care about: The economy, stupid. Two-thirds put pocketbook and social welfare issues first. But this group is quite conservative on social issues: 72% support traditional marriage and 54% are pro-life on abortion. They also support Bush's faith-based initiative. Highly politicized, they are quite comfortable with the political involvement of religious organizations.

    In the 2004 election, Black Protestants cared most about the economy, with Black Protestant Kerry voters also citing this as their most important concern, but Bush voters in this group said the most important factors to them were foreign policy and social issues. (See details.)



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