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Sunday, April 23, 2023

Secular Voters

The geographic spread of secular voters is critical. Secular voters are not clustered in a few states but make up a sizable share of the electorate across every region. In 44 states, religiously unaffiliated Americans make up at least 20 percent of the state’s adult population. Secular voters receive only sporadic media attention in post-election analyses, much less than their size would seem to warrant. But there’s a good reason for that. Secular voters have varied priorities—they are broadly liberal but lack a distinctive political identity. In a recent post, Ryan Burge finds that secular Americans are hardly monolithic when it comes to politics. There is also no institutional infrastructure or leadership to encourage these voters to coalesce around specific issues. Their political participation is also less consistent than Americans who belong to established religious traditions. Nonreligious Americans tend to drop off in midterm elections and other down-ballot contests. (Exit polls estimate that nonreligious voters made up 22 percent of the vote share in 2022, reflecting their irregular voting habits.)