The overall sense that arises from the Religion Census is that the Democrats will continue to gain ground in suburban counties that are predominantly white and where religion is fading in size and importance. In so-called Blue Wall states like Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania, Republicans will have a harder time winning over voters in suburban Milwaukee, Detroit, or Philadelphia with messaging about six-week abortion bans. On the other hand, the shifts in the religious landscape make it more likely that the GOP can hold off Democratic advances in important states like Texas and Florida. As more Hispanic immigrants come to those areas who are deeply religious and culturally conservative, Democratic messaging on social issues will not appeal to these types of votes.
It’s hard to overstate this point. In 1990, just seven percent of Americans were non-religious — 30 years later, the “nones” had quadrupled. And new data indicates that nearly half of Generation Z has no religious affiliation. In 2020, 46 percent of the votes cast for Biden came from non-religious voters. That could easily be half of his base in a bid for reelection. Both parties have been slow to react to this changing religious landscape. Where the remaining religious Americans live and vote is a crucial question for the electoral map in 2024 and beyond. Both parties are ignoring these changing dynamics at their own peril.