Even though religion is declining in the U.S., faith still has an important role in the Presidential Election.
Studies reveal that the United States population is becoming less religious as years go by. Additionally, the Constitution guarantees the separation of religious matters from those of the state. But amidst these known facts, religion is considered a key player in politics particularly during election time.
The current battle for Barack Obama’s successor has essentially been shaped not only by political issues but those of religion as well. And it’s evident for both the Republican and Democratic Party races. This has been the main conclusion of the latest survey conducted by the Pew Research Center. Among the key findings include the following:
Religion losses its grip on American life but remains a big influence on polls
68% of the survey respondents believe that religion is losing its influence on American life. And the numbers are relatively consistent from previous years’ surveys. 51% of those who said so argued that this trend is a bad thing while only 13% saw it as a good one.
But on the contrary, still a majority of American adults consider the candidates’ religion as a factor in deciding whom to vote for. In the list of positive and negative traits of the would-be president, being an atheist is the worst possible liability a candidate could have at 51%. Voters are more concern of this than say if the candidate had extra marital affair (37%) or have used marijuana in the past (20%).
Majority of candidates are viewed as religious except for Donald Trump
Almost all candidates for the 2016 presidential nominations for both parties are viewed by the public as “very” or “somewhat” religious. Ben Carson tops the ranking at 68%, Ted Cruz at 65%, Marco Rubio at 61%, Hilary Clinton at 48% and Bernie Sanders at 40%. The numbers are even higher when views from their own party members are considered.
The only exception and perhaps a surprising irony is Donald Trump. Amidst that very strong support from the Republican voters, only 30% viewed him as religious. On the other hand, though Hilary Clinton has a high religious rating, that number is on the decline compared to previous polls. And when compared side-to-side, Republican candidates are viewed as more religious than those of the Democrats.
Opposition to a gay or lesbian president is softening
Compared to previous elections, 59% of Republicans have said that the candidate’s sexual preference is no longer a deciding factor when it comes to the presidency. 4% of respondents said that they will likely support an LGBT candidate while 26% says that they will less likely to support a gay or lesbian nominee.
Conservatives control the GOP while liberals control the Democratic Party
The traditional perception on the control over the two parties remains. Americans still believe that religious conservatives have too much control over the Republican Party at 51%. On the other hand, 44% agreed that non-religious liberals have too much control over the Democratic Party. If the opinions of Republicans towards the Democrats and vice-versa are taken, the numbers get even higher. More than 66% of Democrats believe that the GOP is controlled by the conservatives while the same ratio of Republicans believes that non religious liberals reign over the Democratic Party. But both parties eventually denied these claims.
Americans don’t want candidates who have been at the Washington for years
When it comes to personal experience, candidates with previous service to the military are seen better compared to those who have already been elected for any Washington post. Most of the survey respondents (44% of Republicans and 18% of Democrats) said that they will not likely support candidates who have been elected in Washington for many years.
Why I support Trump–he's the least religious candidate running in either party. https://t.co/ZjLPJlkAX9
— Bruce Bartlett (@BruceBartlett) January 27, 2016