Racial and Religious Breakdown of the 2012 Vote in the Northeast


Steve Sailer broke down the national share of the vote Romney got in 2012 among Whites, by religious self-identification:

From Reuters’ poll of 40,000+ voters, let’s look at Romney’s share of the two party vote among white people by different religious self-identifications:

Mormon 89%
Baptist 79%
Other Protestant 75%
Methodist 66%
Presbyterian 65%
Lutheran 60%
All Whites 58%
Catholic 57%
Episcopal 55%
Other Religion 51%
Jewish 34%
None 32%

The apparent lackluster support for Romney among Episcopalians had many commenters speculating about why that would be. Before we “put the cart before the horse” too much, I wrote: “It would be interesting to run this analysis limited to one region or one state, to offset the effects of regionalism“. By this I meant that Episcopalians’ apparent pro-Obama stance may be an artifact of their being heavily-drawn from the liberal Northeast.

Using the same source Sailer uses, which is this, I produced one attempt at such a ‘control’ analysis, above. I limited the analysis to eight contiguous and somewhat-similar states: the six states of New England, along with New York, and New Jersey. (Note that this uses a slightly different methodology than Sailer uses — he cuts third-party votes out of the analysis — [Romney-%]/([Obama-%]+[Romney-%]). I did not omit third-party votes: Mine are the share of votes out of all votes cast. To discount third-party voters, add a point to each of the Romney-vote figures for the various racial-religious groups Northeast).

Commentary and Analysis

Nonwhite Bloc Voting, Again
In these eight states, only 12% of Nonwhites voted for Romney, according to the Reuters exit poll, against 87% for Obama. The Nonwhite vote in these states was a suffocating 71-to-10 for Obama. Nationally, the Nonwhite vote was ‘only’ 5-to-1 for Obama.


Episcopalians for Obama
Among all religiously-identified White subgroups polled by Reuters in the Northeast, only the Episcopalians clearly favored Obama. More on this later.

“Other Religions” For Obama
Who were these “Other Religion” Whites? They were five to six percent of the entire voting public (or one 1 of every 13 Whites), and they favored Obama by about as much as Jews did. Is “Other Religion” largely a code for “spiritual, but not religious“? That is my best guess.

The Outnumbered White-American Core
Romney got only 45% of the White vote in the Northeast, and lost New York’s and every New England state’s White vote (see map). We think of the Northeast as very liberal, but we can actually see that if one removes Jews, “Other Religions”, and self-declared Atheists from the White count, Romney wins even the liberal Northeast’s White vote. With those groups attached, the White vote in those states is depressed to only 45%. Steve Sailer is right, this election was about Core-America vs. Fringe-America. What happens when the fringe outnumbers the core?

Is the Northeast Only 21% White-Protestant?!
The Northeast, the cradle of Yankee culture, had ~16.5 million votes cast, and only 21.3% were cast by self-identified White-Protestants, according to the Reuters exit poll. Can it really be that White-Protestants are outnumbered by others by a hefty 37-to-10 margin in the Northeast? Four things suggest to me that this exit-poll may undercount White-Protestants: (1) Our bizarre electoral college system disincentivizes voting in ‘solid blue’ and ‘solid red’ states. Many non-politically-involved conservative Whites in places like Massachusetts may simply abstain from voting, because “there is just no point”; we all know to whom Massachusetts’ electoral votes would go to before the campaign even began — This kind of thinking may affect Northeast conservatives (heavily White-Protestants) more than others; (2) There has been much discussion about how many Whites stayed home on election day. Whatever the source of this apathy, it must have affected White-Protestants (the core of the Republican party) more than other Whites. (3) Catholics tend to identify with their church even when they are totally irreligious, hence the phrase “lapsed Catholic”. Who’s ever heard of a “lapsed Lutheran”, for example? — So this figure of 32% of voters in the Northeast being “Catholic” suggests to me that this is pretty comprehensive, and includes a great portion even of the White “cultural Catholics”. If you forced the 12% of “No Religion” Whites to choose a church, and forced the 5-6% of “Other-Religion” Whites to choose a church, a great majority would probably end up identifying as one kind or another of Protestant. This, alone, would add 10 to 15 percentage points to the White-Protestant population share. (4) Persons of mixed religious background are less likely to identify as Protestants in the Northeast — because Protestantism is less-dynamic, and is sort of a cultural whipping boy: Either White-Protestants are the aloof ultra-rich, or redneck creationists somewhere down south. If a Northeasterner has three Colonial-Yankee-ancestry great-grandparents (of Protestant affiliation) and five Catholic Ellis-Island ancestors, nine times out of ten the person will identify as a Catholic, but his/her ancestral stock is actually 37.5% Yankee-Protestant! We can say that, culturally, being a White-Protestant is a “recessive trait”. So, if we are interested in overall ancestral-stock (rather than current identification), we’d have to bump up the White-Protestant figure a few points to account for that. — These four factors lead me to believe that the true ‘White-Protestant’ figure, if they self-identified the way Catholics and Jews do, would be over 30% in the Northeast today, maybe in the neighborhood of 35% or possibly even reaching 40%. Less among the young.

Baptists and Lutherans
Romney had his strongest support in the Northeast among Baptists and Lutherans, neither of which is associated with the Northeast in the popular imagination. Lutherans, especially, were much more pro-Romney in the Northeast than in the USA as a whole. (They were only two points above the USA’s overall White average in Sailer’s analysis, but Northeast-Lutherans were +13 above the Northeast-White average). Why? I am not sure.

Finally, in answer to my original question: In Sailer’s analysis, Episcopalians were three points below the White average, nationally. In the Northeast, though, their vote-share is equal to the White average. (Both are 45%). Some of the “Liberal Episcopalian” thing is attributable to region, then. Episcopalians are heavily northeastern — but in the Northeast itself, they are no more liberal than the typical White. / Still, clearly the Episcopalians are more liberal than other White churchgoers. Former Episcopalian Anti-Gnostic says that the Episcopal Church “is currently tearing itself apart between orthodox Christianity and unitarian-universalism”, as can be seen in the endorsement of openly-gay/“practicing homosexuals” serving as priests in their church as of a few years ago. This kind of leftward move must incentivize liberal elements to stay in the church and conservatives to leave.


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11 Responses to Racial and Religious Breakdown of the 2012 Vote in the Northeast

  1. Hail says:

    In case the graphic goes down at any time, here is a text version:

    Racial & Religious Breakdown of 2012 Presidential Vote
    In New England, New York, & New Jersey [collectively 43 million pop.]

    % For Romney — [Share of Voters] — Group
    38% — [100%] — All Voters
    12.2% — [21.0%] — Nonwhites
    44.8% — [79.0%] — Whites

    Whites, By Religion
    53.5% — [21.3%] — White-Protestants
    60% — [3.1%] — Baptists
    58% — [3.0%] — Lutherans
    50% — [4.4%] — Methodists
    49% — [2.3%] — Presbyterians
    45% — [2.7%] — Episcopalians
    56% — [5.9%] — Other-Protestants

    51.6% — [32.1%] — White-Catholics
    N/A — [0.4%] — Mormons
    29.3% — [7.7%] — Jews
    32.0% — [5.6%] — White “Other Religions”

    27.5% — [11.9%] — White “No Religion”

  2. Non-liberal (i.e., non ELCA) Lutherans may be a larger percentage of northeastern Lutherans than nationwide. Dunno, but I’m surprised by the 58% number myself.

    • Hail says:

      Anecdotally, I can tell you that a fair number of conservative-oriented German-Lutherans settled in central-Connecticut in the late 1800s. (One of the branches of my own family included).

  3. james wilson says:

    I’d love to know who those 11% hipster Mormons are.

    • Anonymous says:

      They are obviously nominal Mormons. Check for example: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religion_in_Spain

      It says that 70% of spanish people claim to be catholic, but only 59% believe that there is a God … well, what are those 11% then that are catholic but either don’t believe in God or believe in some higher force? They are not catholics, they just say that they are because of some attachment of having grewn up a catholic, but in fact in every area of life they believe in liberalism, and know almost nothing about christianism. I would suppose that some mormons are just like that.

    • Hail says:

      According to the Reuters exit poll,

      Married White-Mormon women in Utah, voted 94%-to-6% for Romney.

      This is about the margin Obama won among married Black women in the USA: 96%-to-4%. (One wonders who those 4% of Black-married-women were like, too).

      So some of these Mormon Obama voters are on various parts of the Mormon fringe. This fits well with Steve Sailer’s Core-vs.-Fringe idea.

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