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Jun 27 2012

Obama down ten points among white atheists?

This is a very interesting article, with a fun twist for poll watchers and political junkies — but I’m not going to spoil it for you! Here’s the evocative part about atheists:

The Hill– Fresh Gallup data make it clear that President Obama is hemorrhaging support among white atheists. The president’s vote is down 10 points since 2008 among whites who profess no religion—more than among any segment of non-Hispanic white voters, except single white men and non-Christian whites.

Atheists and non-Christian whites constitute some 13 percent of the overall electorate. Almost one in five white voters fell into this category in 2008. Put differently, this vital segment was as large as the African-American vote in 2008, and larger than the Latino vote. Consider another data point revealing the growth of this movement: A few years ago, Publishers Weekly reported that sales of atheist books were outstripping those of religious books. If any more confirmation of the trend were needed, Wiley & Sons will soon be publishing Atheism for Dummies.

Not sure if the author is talking about a real poll there, or if he is, who all would be included in Non-Christian whites. But even if we are only five to ten percent, we have more voting power than I thought. And if that number goes higher, say near 20% over the next decade, and turn out is high among our group, that is a serious political force to be reckoned with.

I remember listening to a climate change author speak to NRN a few years ago. He pointed out that we can argue about messaging and strategy, or raise hell about our opponents, we can make elegant speeches or write a bestseller. But to enact and enforce laws aimed at defined goals that can change the world, the only sure-fire winning strategy is to win elections and win them consistently.

There are a lot of differences between progressives and conservatives these days, but when it comes to religion the leaders of both appear as two but damn near speak as one. Wouldn’t it be great, and immensely entertaining, if politicians had to pursue our votes and endorsements the way they go after others? When it comes to the religulous, they do vote, and as a result both our elected officials and their challengers endlessly profess their undying admiration and often brag about their personal relationship with a magic invisible sky wizard. One party presumes to know exactly who the sky wizard wants in office and has been pretty damn successful running that con for years.

If you are an atheist and have not registered to vote, or you’re thinking about not bothering to vote, what are you waiting for? A Miracle? The Immaculate Election? A rousing Rage Against the Machine video? The latter I can provide …

9 comments

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  1. 1
    Gregory in Seattle

    Atheists are more likely to be educated; therefore atheists are more likely to be progressive. Obama has been steadily losing the support of all progressives as he repeatedly panders to the religious right and corporate interests. So really, the finding that Obama is losing the support of atheists is entirely unsurprising.

    Mind you, lack of support does not necessarily translate as “we are not voting for him.” But in America’s Two-and-only-two Party System, options for dissent are extremely limited. The only way we can express our displeasure is by refusing to give money, refusing to volunteer, telling polsters exactly what we think… and then holding our collective nose, violate our every moral principle and vote for the lesser of two evils.

  2. 2
    Stephen "DarkSyde" Andrew

    Possible top comment there.

  3. 3
    johnbrown

    With all due respect to Gregory above, there are a lot of libertarian types who are also atheist. In particular, Murray Rothbard, the godfather of the von Mises branch of Austrian wingnuttia, was an outspoken atheist. When I was at UNLV one of his (not terribly bright) apostles asked with wonder how, “such a moral man could be an atheist?”

  4. 4
    Gregory in Seattle

    @johnbrown – It has been established that educated people tend to be non-religious. It has also been established that educated people tend to be more progressive in their social and political views. It is not a stretch to assert that non-religious people tend to be more progressive in their social and political views.

    You will note that I say “tend to be” here and “more likely to be” in my post above.

  5. 5
    Leo Buzalsky

    I was going to say pretty much what Gregory said as far as voting goes. I myself do not “support” Obama (I’ve told people soliciting for money as much), but I will still vote for him.

    Also, I could not find what Gallup data the author is talking about. If anyone knows, please share. Thanks.

  6. 6
    geraldmcgrew

    He’s conflating non-religious with atheists and/or lumping them together. That wrong first step likely plays a role in his conclusion.

  7. 7
    geraldmcgrew

    Oops…never mind. As long as he’s comparing the same two sets of data (“those who profess no religion” from both 2008 and current), he should be ok. My bad.

  8. 8
    Shplane, Spess Alium

    I’m probably not going to vote because the Electoral College system pretty much makes my vote meaningless. All the racist fuckhead neighbors are going to vote for the Murder Party, so why should I bother wasting my time only to have my ballet thrown out?

  9. 9
    csrster

    Obama tends to give lip service to atheists in an “those of all faiths and none” sort of way, which always strike me as being inclusivist in the same way as “Judeo-Christian” ie not very.

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