The Twelve Tribes of American Politics in the 2008 Election

Understanding the twelve religious voting blocs in America may be key to unlocking the 2008 election.

BY: John Green, Dan Gilgoff and Steven Waldman

 

Continued from page 2




Percent of voting-age population:

9.6%



Who they are:

Majority Catholic, but with a large Protestant minority. Fairly orthodox in practice (Almost half report attending worship once a week or more) though less so in belief (37% of the Protestants are biblical literalists).

Examples


Ideology:
  • Summer 2004: Conservative: 28%, Moderate: 45%, Liberal: 27%.
  • Summer 2008: Conservative: 34%, Moderate: 34%, Liberal: 32%
Party:
  • Summer 2004: Republican: 24%, Independent: 22%, Democratic: 54%.
  • Summer 2008: Republican: 20%, Independent: 18%, Democratic: 62%


Candidate Preference:

  • November 2004: Bush 45%, Kerry 55%.
  • Summer 2008: McCain: 23%, Obama: 60%, undecided: 17%

Political trend:

Rapidly growing in size and shifting sharply in the Democratic direction. In 2004, Bush won 45% of Latinos. Now Obama has a better than two-to-one lead. The big change has been driven largely by Hispanic Protestants – often Pentecostal and Evangelical. As of this summer, 33% of Latino Protestants were for McCain, 48% for Obama and 18% undecided. By comparison, at this point in 2004 Bush had 50%, Kerry had 26% and 24% were undecided. And on Election Day it was 63% Bush, 37%.



What they care about:

Most analysts believe that the perceived antagonism of Republicans to immigration has turned many Latinos toward the Democrats. In the last election, they voted Republican in record numbers in part because they were conservative on social issues. In many ways, they still are: a sizable majority are pro life and favor traditional marriage. But the social issues are looming less important this year. 65% want churches out of politics, a 25 point surge since 2004. That year, nearly one in three said social issues were most important; now it’s about one in eight.. And they’re liberal on the role of government, with 40% saying they want more government services. In addition, Latinos turned aggressively against the war. 63% say it was not justified and 60% say the U.S. should mind its own business internationally, a 50% spike from 2004. Latinos are also growing greener, with 65-percent favoring more environmental regulation despite the probable economic toll.





Percent of voting-age population:

1.5%



Who they are:

Common cultural identity mixed with diverse religious beliefs. Just 8% say the Bible is literally true. Almost half live in the Northeast.



Examples

  • Al Franken
  • Joe Lieberman
  • Barbra Streisand
  • Mike Bloomberg

Ideology:
  • Summer 2004: Conservative: 19%, Moderate: 36%, Liberal: 46%.
  • Summer 2008: Conservative: 19%, Moderate: 34%, Liberal: 48%
Party:
  • Summer 2004: Republican: 21%, Independent: 11%, Democratic: 68%.
  • Summer 2008: Republicans: 17%, Independents: 19%, Democrats: 64%


Candidate Preference:

  • November 2004: Bush 27%, Kerry 73%.
  • Summer 2008: McCain: 23%, Obama: 52%, undecided: 25%

Political Trend:

A strong Democratic group, though Republicans like Bush and McCain have tried to break the Democratic lock on Jewish voters.73% voted for Kerry. This time, 53-percent, with the rest about evenly split between the McCain and undecided columns.



What they care about:

The group that puts the most emphasis on foreign policy, with only non-Christians coming close to matching the 42% of Jews who say it’s their top priority this year. Even so, most say the economy is their foremost concern, roughly three times as many as said so in 2004. Only secular voters are more pro-choice, and Jews are among the groups most opposed to mixing religion and politics. Nearly 70% say the Iraq war was unjustified, though Jews are the most anti-isolationist of the tribes, with 57% strongly disagreeing with the notion that the U.S. should mind its own business internationally.





Percent of voting-age population:

2.7%



Who they are:

Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Wiccans, and other smaller groups.


Examples
  • Muhammad Ali
  • Keith Ellison
  • M. Night Shyamalan


Ideology:
  • Summer 2004: Conservative: 10%, Moderate: 46%, Liberal: 44%.
  • Summer 2008: Conservative: 12%, Moderate: 47%, Liberal: 40%
Party:
  • Summer 2004: Republican: 12%, Independent: 33%, Democratic: 55%.
  • Summer 2008: Republicans: 15%, Independents 16%, Democrats: 69%


Candidate Preference:

  • November 2004: Bush 23%, Kerry 77%.
  • Summer 2008: McCain: 17%, Obama: 67%, undecided: 16%

Political Trend:

In 2000, Muslims backed Bush, but the other groups went for Gore. In 2004, responding to President Bush’s War on Terrorism, Muslims broke overwhelmingly for John Kerry., as did most other “others.” They’re edging further in the Democratic direction this year.



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. Still, most want to keep religion out of politics. And only Jews care more about foreign policy.





Percent of voting-age population:

8.5%



Who they are:

Fairly orthodox in practice (60% report attending worship once a week or more) and belief (nearly half are biblical literalists). However, the experience of slavery and segregation has produced a distinctive theology. More than 6 in 10 live in the South.



Examples

Ideology:
  • Summer 2004: Conservative: 27%, Moderate: 48%, Liberal: 25%.
  • Summer 2008: Conservative: 30%, Moderate: 46%, Liberal: 24%
Party:
  • Summer 2004: Republican: 11%, Independent: 19%, Democratic: 70%.
  • Summer 2008: Republicans: 8%, Independents 10%, Democrats: 83%


Candidate Preference:

  • November 2004: Bush 17%, Kerry 83%.
  • Summer 2008: McCain: 6%, Obama: 79%, undecided: 16%

Political trend:

Though George W. Bush made inroads in states like Ohio and Florida in ’04, they’ve long been solidly Democratic – and this year even more so, with Barack Obama at the top of the ticket.



What they care about:

Fully 70% now put top priority on economic issues. . And 55% want to see more government services, the only group in which a majority holds that view. But black Protestants are more socially conservative than most economic liberals. A slight majority are pro-life on abortion and 65% support traditional marriage. 63% want churches to be politically active, more than any other group but the Christian Right. On foreign policy, meanwhile, the two groups couldn’t be further apart. More than 85% of black Protestants say the Iraq war was unjustified.



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