An Epic/MRA poll of “active voters” conducted from August 4-10 reports a 49-42 advantage for John Kerry in Michigan, with 3 percent for Nader, and 6 percent “unsure.”
TDS Strategy Memos
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By Ed Kilgore
June 2: Rise of Religious “Nones” a Mixed Blessing for Democrats
Since I’m always standing at the intersection of politics and religion, I’m always interested in fresh data on the subject, and wrote some up at New York:
One of the big predictions in American politics lately, of infinite comfort to embattled progressives, is that the increasing number of religiously non-affiliated Americans, particularly among younger generations, will spur a steady leftward drift. Perhaps that will mean, we are told, that Democrats will be able to build their elusive permanent majority on the grounds of abandoned houses of worship. Or perhaps, some hope, the religious roots of today’s Republican extremism will begin to wither away, allowing American conservatives to resemble their less intemperate distant cousins in other advanced democracies, ending the culture wars.
Both propositions may be true. But it’s a mistake to treat so-called nones as an undifferentiated secularist mass, as Eastern Illinois University political scientist Ryan Burge explains with some fresh data. He notes that “in 2022, 6% of folks were atheists, 6% were agnostics, and another 23% were nothing in particular.” This large bloc of “nothing in particular” voters may lean left, all other things being equal, but they tend to be as uninterested in politics as in religion, making them a less than ideal party constituency. He explains:
“To put this in context, in 2020 there were nearly as many nothing in particulars who said that they voted for Trump as there were atheists who said that they voted for Biden.
“While atheists are the most politically active group in the United States in terms of things like donating money and working for a campaign, the nothing in particulars are on another planet entirely.
“They were half as likely to donate money to a candidate compared to atheists. They were half as likely to put up a political sign. They were less than half as likely to contact a public official.
“This all points to the same conclusion: they don’t vote in high numbers. So, while there may be a whole bunch of nothing in particulars, that may not translate to electoral victories.”
As Burge mentioned, however, there is a “none” constituency that leans much more strongly left and is very engaged politically — indeed, significantly more engaged than the white evangelicals we’re always hearing about. That would be atheists. In a separate piece, he gets into the numbers:
“The group that is most likely to contact a public official? Atheists.
“The group that puts up political signs at the highest rates? Atheists.
“HALF of atheists report giving to a candidate or campaign in the 2020 presidential election cycle.
“The average atheist is about 65% more politically engaged than the average American.”
And as Thomas Edsall points out in a broader New York Times column on demographic voting patterns, atheists really are a solid Democratic constituency, supporting Biden over Trump in 2020 by an incredible 87 to 9 percent margin. It’s worth noting that the less adamant siblings of the emphatically godless, agnostics, also went for Biden by an 80 to 17 percent margin and are more engaged than “nothing in particulars” as well.
So should Democrats target and identify with atheists? It’s risky. Despite the trends, there are still three times as many white evangelicals as atheists in the voting population. And there are a lot more religious folk of different varieties, some of whom have robust Democratic voting minorities or even majorities who probably wouldn’t be too happy with their party showing disdain for religion entirely. There’s also a hunt-where-the-ducks-fly factor: If atheists and agnostics already participate in politics and lean strongly toward Democrats, how much attention do they really need? There’s a reason that politicians, whatever their actual religious beliefs or practices, overwhelmingly report some religious identity. Congress lost its one professed atheist when California representative Pete Stark lost a Democratic primary in 2012; the only professed agnostic in Congress is Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema, whose political future isn’t looking great.
It’s a complicated picture. Conservative columnist Ross Douthat argues that American liberalism’s increasing identification with secularism is keeping a lot of conservative Christians from politically expressing their reservations about Donald Trump. And religious people beyond the ranks of conservative faith communities may feel cross-pressured if Democratic politicians begin to reflect the liberal intelligentsia’s general assumption that religion is little more than a reactionary habit rooted in superstition and doomed to eventual extinction.
Perhaps it makes more sense for Democratic atheists and agnostics to spend time educating and mobilizing the “nothing in particular” Americans who already outnumber white evangelicals and ought to be concerned about how they’ll be treated if a Christian-nationalist Gilead arises. Only then can “nones” become the salvation for the Democratic Party.
“This is going to get ugly in the very near future.”
When John McCain bested Bush in NH back in 2000 and became the darling of Dems, independents, the media and others hungary for authenticity, Bush, feeling cornered, turned to his base in SC; and boy did it deliver.
Look for that again. As Bush and his far right sponsors begin to sense that things are slipping away, we can expect an avalanche of vitriol from those wonderful people who gave us Bob Jones Univ. and the sludge about McCain’s family. Don’t be surprised when Repubs start talking about Gov. McGrevey being palsy with Kerry.
These people have no shame when it comes to winning elections. Its going to get very ugly.
Kerry is kicking off two weeks of economy focused campaigning, and I’m sure he’ll be going to Ohio quite a bit. Ohio does offer one of the best contrasts between what GW says about the economy and what is actually going on. I’m sure the Kerry people would also like to strengthen and secure that 9 point swing ARG is reporting.
I think the cross-country whistlestop tour was a great thing to do between the convention and the olympics, but now its time to get back to the battlegrounds.
Kerry needs to build on Ohio.
This is going to get ugly in the very near future.
It would be nice if the Kerry team could use Bush’s need to go intensley negative against him. Bush is in a corner, and there should be a way to play that to Kerry’s advantage – perhaps by giving the media a narrative about what Bush is being forced to do. If we can get the media to start throwing around terms like ‘desperate’ when they cover Bush attacks, it would help.
Anything that forces Bush to spend more resources on ground that was assumed to be already his, is a good thing as long as Kerry doesn’t spend too many of his own resources.
Just got off the phone from a long conversation with a high school friend from SW Ohio — much of it talking Politics. Look — Kerry needs to get back there and talk Economics and Jobs — but he should also send Wes Clark in to talk Military talk — particularly around Dayton. (They love him in Dayton because of the Dayton Agreements forged at Wright Patterson.) Edwards needs to visit Hamilton and Middletown, both of which are near bankrupt because of the loss of the steel fabricating industry. They won’t win a majority in that neck of the woods — but apparently there are lots of pick-up votes to be had.
Everyone has been assuming that OH would be secure for Bush so the latest ARG poll is very encouraging. Kerry can pin him down there for a long time. It will also be interesting to see if there is any bounce from the winger-lite convention or whether voters are further alienated by smirking Bush, sneering Cheney and the Swift boat attacks. So far the trend is promising. As the election gets closer swing voters appear to be more comfortable with a president Kerry.
With any luck JK will have the blue states sewed up by Labor Day. That leaves two months to take some states Bush won in 2000. Best bets: NH, NV, WVA, MO, & (drum roll) FL.
Now something else! I wonder how this resignation of New Jersey’s Governor Will affect the Polls? The Right Wing is really starting to through the XXXX now.
American Research has posted a poll for Ohio, taken from 8-9 through 8-11. It has Kerry at 48% Bush 45% Nader 2% Undecided 5%. On the heals of the new Florida polls that have Kerry up 6 and 7 points, things are looking pretty damn good!!
I hate to see EDM engaging in this semantics game (even though it was probably unintentional).
A seven point advantage in Hawaii is a ‘strong lead,’ but the same advantage in Michigan means the state is only ’tilting towards’ Kerry.
I think in these times a seven-point lead is a pretty strong no matter what state you’re talking about.
According to Salon.com GWB, while in Florida, said that a national sales tax is “an interesting idea that we ought to explore seriously.”
Yahoo! says that JK is about to start a two week capaign push on the economy and taxes.
I believe this is the break we need. Team Kerry needs to go to the juglar with this comment from Bush. And if he does, I believe, New Mexico, Nevada, Arizona, and Colorado will be ripe for the picking. And that would create an insurrmountable electoral lock.