Politics and religion have been an essential part of American elections since the Pilgrims crash landed on Plymouth Rock. In my early days in politics, it became apparent to me that Jews and most Catholics voted Democratic, and Protestants voted Republican. This was how we determined our “get out the vote” strategy. This was simplistic, of course, but in the age with no computers and accurate voting lists, this system worked just fine. Today targeting likely voters who will vote for your candidate has become an art form practiced by every political consultant.

Recently I came across data produced by Pew Research that measured the “religiosity” of voters in every state. In 2014, Pew Research conducted a series surveys to assess religiosity, using a person’s frequency of prayer, and belief in God. From these surveys they constructed an index of how religious the population in each state ranked. The scores for each of these four individual items are then summed, creating a religiosity score  (Source: Pew Religious Landscape Study). With my curiosity aroused, I decided to determine if more religious voters voted more for Trump than for Biden.

Using this metric, Pew produced a state-by-state estimate of the percentage of highly religious voters. In Table 1 below, is a list of each state’s religious percent and the percentage of voters who voted for Trump. As you can see, most of the states with highest percent religious scores are in the deep south. Trump carried all these states, except for Georgia, where he lost by 0.20%. In states with a religious percent below 50%, he lost all but two states: Alaska and Montana.

Alabama 77 62
Mississippi 77 57.6
Tennessee 73 60.7
Louisiana 71 58.5
Arkansas 70 62.4
South Carolina 70 55.1
West Virginia 69 68.6
Georgia 66 49.3
Oklahoma 66 65.4
North Carolina 65 49.9
Texas 64 52.1
Utah 64 58.1
 Kentucky 63 62.1
Virginia 61 44
 Missouri 60 56.8
South Dakota 59 61.8
Ohio 58 53.3
New Mexico 57 43.5
Iowa 55 53.1
Kansas 55 56.2
New Jersey 55 41.4
 Florida 54 51.2
Indiana 54 57
Maryland 54 32.2
Nebraska 54 58.5
Wyoming 54 69.1
 Arizona 53 49.1
 District of Columbia 53 5.4
Michigan 53 47.8
 North Dakota 53 65.1
 Pennsylvania 53 48.8
 Delaware 52 39.8
Idaho 51 63.9
 Illinois 51 40.6
 California 49 34.3
 Minnesota 49 45.3
Nevada 49 47.7
 Rhode Island 49 38.6
Montana 48 56.9
 Oregon 48 40.4
 Colorado 47 41.9
 Hawaii 47 34.3
 New York 46 37.7
 Alaska 45 52.8
 Washington 45 38.8
 Wisconsin 45 48.8
 Connecticut 43 39.2
 Maine 34 44
 Vermont 34 30.7
Massachusetts 33 32.1
New Hampshire 33 45.4

Perhaps this isn’t too surprising since Trump had embraced the Evangelical community with open arms and they have in turn embraced him. His effort to win over Evangelical Ministers by pledging to eliminate Roe v. Wade overcame any objections that a divorced man who had an affair with porn a star and a playboy bunny and who rarely attended church running against a Catholic man who attends mass every Sunday and prays everyday. It was an easy choice. I don’t know about you but I love politics.

But my question is how many votes did these religous votes did Trump actually win? Most exit polls have have Trump carrying the Protestant vote with 60% versus Biden’s 40%. But not all Protestants are highly relitious.

But I can estimate the percent of highly religious voters while controlling for partisanship by using a statistical technique called multiple regression. The table below shows the

Model Unstandardized Coefficients Standardized Coefficients t Sig.
B Std. Error Beta
1 (Constant) 68.155 38.916 1.751 .086
REP.PER.REG -.732 .457 -.517 -1.601 .116
DEM.PER.REG -.472 .455 -.331 -1.038 .304
PER.RELIG .550 .136 .489 4.051 .000

By Jim Kane

Jim Kane is a pollster and media advisor, and was for fifteen years an Adjunct Professor of Political Science at the University of Florida. Kane is founder of the polling firm USAPoll and served as the Director of the Florida Voter Poll. His political clients have included both Republican and Democratic candidates, including the Republican Party of Florida, and both the Sun-Sentinel and Orlando Sentinel newspapers. At the University of Florida, Professor Kane taught graduate level courses in political science on Survey Research, Lobbying and Special Interest Groups in America, Political Campaigning, and Political Behavior. In addition to his professional and academic career, Jim Kane has been actively involved in local and state policy decisions. He was elected to the Broward County Soil and Water Conservation Board (1978-1982) and the Port Everglades Authority (1988-1994). Kane also served as an appointed member of the Broward County Planning Council (1995-2003), Broward County Management Review Committee (Chair, 1990-1991), Broward County Consumer Protection Board (1976-1982), and the Broward County School Board Consultants Review Committee (1986-1990).

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