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US survey shows voter turnout linked to faith

11 August 2023

CLOSE ties between the Republican Party and white Evangelicals were strengthened in the United States midterm elections last year, a new breakdown of the votes cast shows. Evangelicals and white Roman Catholics overwhelmingly supported the Party.

The Republican advantage among white Evangelicals was even larger in 2022 than in the past three elections. Eighty-six per cent now supported Republican candidates and just 12 per cent voted for the Democrats (News, 10 September 2021).

An analysis by Pew Research found that the win for the Republicans was largely achieved through a higher voter turnout from their supporters rather than a switch of support: most voting patterns remained consistent with previous elections.

In the vote last November, the Republicans narrowly won the House of Representatives, but the Democrats held on to the Senate, defying a widely predicted resurgence by Republicans (News, 11 November 2022).

Only six per cent of voters crossed party lines in the November election, showing how small the size of the swing vote is, but how big an impact this small switch can have on the final result.

The Pew report said: “Given sharp political divisions in the United States, small changes in voter turnout from election to election have big consequences.”

According to the study, 68 per cent of all voters who participated in the 2020 presidential election turned out in last year’s midterms, but former President Trump’s voters turned out at a higher rate (71 per cent) than President Biden’s voters (67 per cent).

There were some small changes in voting trends among some sections of the electorate. Pew’s analysis shows that more rural voters moved from supporting the Democrats to voting Republican than the reverse. And, among white voters without a degree, more defected to Republicans than the other way round.

But, as in previous ballots, voters with a college degree were more likely to cast their ballot for a Democratic candidate: 56 per cent supported Democrats and 43 per cent Republican. This preference was reversed among those who did not have a college degree.

Young people also continued to favour the Democrats, as seven in ten voters aged under 30 cast their vote for a Democrat candidate.

Those who turned out to vote in midterm elections are more committed, and usually more affluent and more educated than those who voted only in presidential elections, the survey showed.

In the the midterms, a similar pattern of voting occurred as in the previous two elections among white and Black voters, with Black voters continuing to support the Democrats by a large margin, and white voters continuing to favour Republicans.

Voters remained divided along religious lines: Evangelicals and white Catholics voted Republican, while Hispanic Catholics and Jewish voters backed Democrat candidates.

Of those who declared themselves atheist or agnostic, two-thirds backed the Democrats.

Regular church attenders — those who attended monthly or more — were by two to one more likely to vote Republican.

The much vaunted “red wave” of Republican victories was not fulfilled by the midterms, which are traditionally elections where the sitting President’s Party loses support.

A poll ahead of the 2024 presidential election found that a Trump-Biden rematch election are both tied on 43 per cent of support from registered voters.

Both are the likely leaders currently for their party’s presidential nomination, with Trump receiving 54 per cent of the support of Republicans, according to a New York Times/Siena College poll on 1 August.

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