Racial Equality

Assessing The Religious (And Non-Religious) Vote In 2020

  Rob Boston

The election was more than a week ago, and some interesting data about how various religious and non-religious groups voted is starting to emerge. Because so many Americans voted by mail this year, traditional exit polls were not considered reliable. Most news agencies augmented the polls with other methods to get a clearer picture of what happened.

White evangelicals were perhaps the most watched religious group in 2020. They went heavily for President Donald Trump in 2016, with 81% backing him. The Associated Press (AP) reported similar numbers this year, with 80% going for Trump. However, other pollsters have pegged the number a little lower at 76%. While this might not seem like much of a difference, the election was tight in several states, and any defections from Trump’s base could have hastened his defeat.

Catholic voters are often looked at as a bellwether. If a candidate wins the Catholic vote, he or she often wins the election. AP reported that Catholic voters this year split down the middle, half going for Trump and half for Joe Biden. White Catholics backed Trump by 57%, but this is a drop from 2016 when 64% of them voted for him. Latino Catholics were more likely to vote for Biden, and 67% did so. 

Other polls showed that Biden took a slightly higher percentage of the overall Catholic vote – 52%. Biden, who is Catholic, ran ads highlighting his faith in some battleground states that have large Catholic populations. (Trump, a lifelong Presbyterian, announced shortly before Election Day that he is now a non-denominational Christian.)

Pollsters found that white mainline Protestants voted for Trump at a rate between 51-53%. But Black Protestants heavily favored Biden, and 90% cast ballots for him.

Jews backed Biden at a figure between 64-70% depending on which poll you read. Muslims broke heavily for Biden at 69%. While Muslims account for a small portion of the U.S. population (1.1%), many of them live in and around Detroit, which may have boosted Biden in the swing state of Michigan.

One of the more interesting demographic groups is also among the fastest growing: Americans who say they have no particular religion. These “nones” broke heavily for Biden, with 72% voting for the former vice president.

Although Trump and some of his Christian nationalist allies are resisting the results, the American people have spoken. As Biden and his running mate Kamala Harris ramp up their transition, we have urged them to repeal dangerous Trump policies that threaten religious freedom. You can read our 10-point “Agenda to Restore and Protect Religious Freedom” here.


Congress needs to hear from you!

Urge your legislators to co-sponsor the Do No Harm Act today.

The Do No Harm Act will help ensure that our laws are a shield to protect religious freedom and not used as a sword to harm others by undermining civil rights laws and denying access to health care.

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