The None Vote


Freethought.jpgAs the primary season winds down, we would do well to consider one of the slices of the religious demographic pie that has thus far received little attention: those who, when asked for their religious preferences, say “none.” These Nones have, in recent years, trended Democratic (just as the most religious have trended Republican). In the 2006, they voted overwhelmingly for Democratic candidates.
As between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, the Nones have preferred Obama, and in most places by a considerable margin. Overall, they constitute about 15 percent of the electorate, but they are spread unevenly around the country. In proportional terms, they are far more plentiful out West than they are back East or down South. Obama’s notable success in the Western states has, I believe, something to do with his appeal to the Nones.
The least churched of all the states of the union is Oregon, where Nones make up about one-third of the adult population. Only a third of Oregonians actually belong to a religious body. (One third claim a religious identity but do not belong.) Because being a None is the norm in Oregon, Nones there tend to be a bit older, a bit more conservative than Nones elsewhere. Still, I’d guess that they will make up a good half of all Democratic primary voters in the Beaver State next week. And I’d also guess that two-thirds of them at least will vote for Obama. That Oregon will push him over the top in pledged delegates (not counting Florida and Michigan) seems very, very likely.