According to a new Gallup Poll, four religious segments appear to be strongly in Biden’s camp: Black Protestants, “Nones,” those of non-Christian faiths, and Hispanic Catholics. Biden’s main challenge with these groups is to increase their turnout, particularly with youthful Nones who are less engaged in both religion and politics. Biden’s choice of Harris as his vice presidential nominee may help increase turnout among Black Protestants.
White Americans who identify as evangelical Protestants or Mormons, or who are active Catholics or lapsed Catholics, or who associate with other Christian denominations, are significantly predisposed to vote for Trump in this election, with White evangelicals standing out as Trump’s most loyal faith group.
“Religious identity of voters is more important than it has been in recent presidential elections,” says Frank Newport Ph.D., who wrote the Gallup report. “This is in part because Joe Biden is only the fourth major-party Catholic presidential nominee in U.S. history and in part because Donald Trump continues to make the courting of evangelical voters a major priority of his campaign. Both the Biden and Trump campaigns have appointed coordinators to reach out to faith communities.
The poll divides people into the most politically meaningful religious segments in the U.S. today:
- Catholics – 22% of the overall U.S. adult population. Too large to consider as a monolithic group.
- Active White Catholics are disproportionately pro-Trump
- Lapsed White Catholics – They tend to be less likely to oppose abortion and less likely to say abortion is going to be important in their vote.
- Hispanic Catholics – They give Trump a 61% disapproval rating so far this year, suggesting they could be a key target for Biden, particularly in specific swing states.
- White Evangelical Protestants – 16% of the U.S. adult population. They attend church very frequently. One of the most pro-Trump religious segments in America.
- White Mainline Protestants – about 12% to 18% of the population. White Protestants who include Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Lutherans, and others, and skew toward Trump.
- Black Protestants – about 8% of the U.S. adult population. Black Protestants say they will vote for Biden in Pew’s research.
- Hispanic Protestants – 4% of the U.S. adult population. They are a swing group of voters, with roughly an even split in their current views of Trump.
- Non-Christian faiths other than Judaism – 2% to 4% of Americans, including Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and others These individuals as a group give Trump low approval ratings, suggesting strength for Biden. Although Harris identifies as Baptist, her mother was a practicing Hindu, raising the possibility that Harris’ nomination may increase interest in the Democratic ticket among Hindus this year.
- Jewish — about 2% of the U.S. adult population. They skew Democratic. Roughly seven in 10 Jews voted for Clinton.
- Latter-Day Saints or Mormons – 1% to 2% of the population and are generally strongly Republicans.
- Nones — 15% of voters. They are Americans with no formal religious identity. When Nones do vote, they skew heavily Democratic.
White Americans who identify as evangelical Protestants or Mormons, or who are active Catholics or lapsed Catholics, or who associate with other Christian denominations, are significantly predisposed to vote for Trump in this election, with White evangelicals standing out as Trump’s most loyal faith group. A key question will be Biden’s ability to leverage his Catholicism to reach out to less active Catholics, along with the possibility that his faith could be effective in reaching less active White Protestants. Trump also has a current edge among White Mainline Protestants, although they certainly will be more susceptible to Biden’s campaigning than other more evangelical White Protestants,” wrote Newport, a Gallup senior scientist.