Why declining religion in the Rust Belt could wreck the GOP’s 2024 chances

Changes in religious demographics in the key Rust Belt states could end up being a roadblock for Republicans hoping to take back the Oval Office in 2024.

That is the conclusion of a report from Politico based on the 2020 U.S. Religion Census, which led Poilitco’s Ryan Burge to note that “religion is taking a beating across the middle part of the country.”

As the report points out, Republicans do better in areas where religion is a bigger part of voters’ lives and there is a very distinct decline of church involvement in swing states that are home to much-needed Electoral College votes.

According to the report, “When people think about where religion is declining, it’s likely they point to regions like the Pacific Northwest or New England. But the drops in adherents in those parts of the country are fairly modest compared to other regions of the United States. Across the industrial Midwest, in former Rust Belt states like Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania that are absolutely essential to the Democrats’ firewall in 2024, there is good news for the party — each of those states is much less religious today than it was just 10 years ago.”

To illustrate how the changes impact vote counts, Burge wrote, “… of Michigan’s 83 counties, 65 experienced a drop in religious adherents between 2010 and 2020. In populous Oakland County, which encompasses the far northern suburbs of Detroit, the share of people affiliated with a religious congregation dropped two percent in the prior decade. That drop in share coincided with a rise in Democratic fortunes: President Joe Biden won the county by 108,000 votes, more than double Barack Obama’s margin eight years earlier. Oakland County points to a future where Democrats have an easier pathway to victory as churches, synagogues and mosques continue to empty out.”

The report adds, “Another example is suburban Philadelphia’s Bucks County. Pennsylvania’s fourth most populous county, it’s often seen as a bellwether for the national political trends. In 2012, Obama took Bucks County by the slimmest of margins, just one percentage point. In 2020, Biden won by 5 points. The share of the county aligned with a religious congregation dropped by nearly 18 percentage points between 2010 and 2020 — easily the largest drop by a populous county in the state.”

You can read more here.


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