Sunday 28 February 2016

Hillary v the 'nones'

Also on Sunday Ed Stourton interviewed Mark Silk, professor of religion in public life at Trinity College, Hartford, Connecticut, about religion and the U.S. election. 

After inevitably starting with Southern evangelicals and the Republicans (Ted Cruz, Donald Trump), the interview eventually turned to the Democrats and brought out something I've very rarely heard discussed on the BBC. (In fact, I don't think I've ever heard it discussed on the BBC before - and, from Ed Stourton's question about it, I'm guessing he'd never heard it before either): 

Ed Stourton: What about the Democrat side? Fair to say that religion is less of a factor there?

Mark Silk: Well, religion is less of a factor if you mean by that that people don't divide up on sectarian grounds. But in one respect it's a very important factor, and that is that a larger and larger proportion of the Democratic vote have been people who identify as having no religion. Sociologists and now journalists call these people 'nones' because when you ask them 'What is your religion, if any?' they say 'none'. I would say this election will represent as much as 30% of the Democratic coalition. So it makes them something like the evangelicals on the Republican side. I hypothesize that actually Bernie Sanders is doing extremely well with these 'nones' and that one of the reasons for Hillary Clinton's strength with the African-American vote is that they like the fact that she's pretty religious. So in the sort of religious-secular divide I think religion does matter on the Democrat side - or may well if we could just get pollsters to ask the right questions, And certainly when it comes to the general election what has become dubbed 'the God gap' between Republicans and Democrats is going to persist and maybe get even more pronounced than before.


  1. "Nones" over in the USA do we call them?
    Over here-with Harriet, Patricia, Margaret and-of course Tom O Carrolls recent joining of Labour...we call Labour lefty prospective voters the "nonces"

  2. Other 'higher' causes have replaced religion in the Democrats, though. In that sense, it's as sectarian as anything else. Racial - and linguistic - identity politics, modern Feminism, Socialism, all fighting for supremacy and causing problems for both Hillary and Sanders. The more these new churches take over the party, the more those closer to the center are forced out. Not that the BBC would ever say that, while they say it all the time about the Republicans.


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