The Role of Race in Political Attitudes Among the Religiously Unaffiliated

Thumbnail Image

Publication or External Link





St Sume, J. and Wong, J.S. (2022), The Role of Race in Political Attitudes Among the Religiously Unaffiliated. Political Psychology, 43: 195-219.


The growth of religiously unaffiliated voters has been noted for some time, but the political consequences of this trend are much less certain. Extant scholarship makes clear that in terms of vote choice, partisanship, and ideology, the group as a whole tends to diverge from those who affiliate with a religious tradition. This article examines whether the politics of the religiously unaffiliated differ across racial groups as it does among the religious. To investigate the role of race among the nonreligious, we analyze racial differences in vote choice and political attitudes among the nonreligious. Relying on the 2016 Collaborative Multiracial Post-Election Survey, as well as other survey data, we demonstrate that there are important variations across race when it comes to the politics of the religiously unaffiliated. When it comes to vote choice, partisanship, and certain deeply racialized policy issues Whites who are religiously unaffiliated demonstrate more conservative positions. But, on other policy issues that are racialized, but less obviously so, Whites tend to be more progressive than their religiously unaffiliated non-White counterparts. As such, we argue that one cannot understand the political impact of the growing religiously unaffiliated in the United States without attention to race.