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By Ben Johnson
The Washington Stand

If you want more voters to support Democrats in a given area, empty its churches, says an expert new analysis.

Every 10 years, the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies counts the number of people in each county who belong to a church, synagogue, or mosque. Ryan Burge, an associate professor of political science at Eastern Illinois University and research director for Faith Counts, overlayed that data with partisan voting patterns and came to a clear and inescapable conclusion.

“Democrats are making gains in areas where religion is fading,” writes Burge, “and Republicans are increasing their vote share in places where houses of worship are gaining new members.” Burge’s research comports with numerous other studies and polls over the years. Two-thirds of Democratic voters said they “never” attend religious services, according to CNN’s exit polls in the 2022 midterm elections. Exactly the same percentage of Republicans said they attend church “weekly or more” often. Two out of three “Nones” (religiously unaffiliated Americans) voted for Democrats in the 2022 midterms, and three out of four (72%) of Nones voted for Joe Biden in 2020, according to the AP VoteCast.

The reality of faith-based party registration has impacted the Electoral College, Burge says. In increasingly Republican-dominated Florida, 49 of its 67 counties saw church membership increase, while “Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania” are “much less religious today” than a decade ago. Big cities, long a bastion of secularism, moved further into the ranks of the Nones, as well: 11 out of 16 counties with a population of at least two million people saw levels of religious adherence fall.



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