More American voters than ever say they are not religious, making the religiously unaffiliated the nation’s biggest voting bloc by faith for the first time in a presidential election year.
This marks a dramatic shift from just eight years ago, when the non-religious were roundly outnumbered by Catholics, white mainline Protestants, and white evangelical Protestants.
These numbers come from a new Pew Research Center survey, which finds that “religious ‘nones,’ who have been growing rapidly as a share of the U.S. population, now constitute one-fifth of all registered voters and more than a quarter of Democratic and Democratic-leaning registered voters.” That represents a 50 percent increase in the proportion of non-religious voters compared to eight years ago, when they made up just 14 percent of the overall electorate.
The growth of the non-religious – about 54 percent of whom are Democrats or lean Democratic, compared to 23 percent at least leaning Republican – could provide a political counterweight to white evangelical Protestants, a historically powerful voting bloc for Republicans. In 2016, 35 percent of Republican voters identify as white evangelicals, while 28 percent of Democratic voters say they have no religion at all