Resources on Faith, Ethics and Public Life

Mark Brockway, David Campbell, and Geoffrey Layman on Hillary Clinton’s Lack of Secular Voter Support in the 2016 Presidential Election

November 18, 2016

Hillary Clinton’s 68 percent among secular Americans was lower than Barack Obama’s in 2012 (70 percent) and 2008 (75 percent). Her performance was similar to John Kerry’s 67 percent in 2004. Why did Trump improve on past Republicans’ support among evangelicals while Clinton lost ground among secular voters? One clue comes from voters’ strength of commitment to their religious faith — or lack thereof. [...] Trump had a large advantage over Clinton among evangelicals regardless of their religious commitment. While Clinton had strong support among atheists and agnostics, she lagged — and Trump closed the gap — among other secular voters. [...] For Democrats, the lesson may be that they can’t take the nonreligious vote for granted. Seculars might become the bulwark of the Democratic electoral coalition someday, but they will have to find the right issues to mobilize them.

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