Morning Buzz | The Partisan Divide Across America is Very, Very Real

2018 American Values Survey Shows Deep Partisan Divide Across the Nation
The 2018 PRRI American Values Survey (AVS), the ninth of its kind, was released on Monday. The annual PRRI report shows a dramatic partisan divide across the country, driven largely by the rhetoric and actions of President Donald Trump. “President Donald Trump is unquestionably casting a long shadow over the midterm elections,” says PRRI CEO Dr. Robert P. Jones. “Attitudes toward the president appear to be driving not only the intensity of attitudes on key issues such as immigration and racial equality the but likelihood of voting among groups such as African American women, who are strongly opposed to the president, and white men, who strongly favor the president.” The 2018 AVS explores a wide range of topics, including the nation’s attitudes toward President Trump’s immigration policies, the country’s changing demographics, discrimination, racial justice, and the #MeToo movement, as well as diversity among elected officials. Read the the full report.
How White Evangelicals and the Republican Party Changed Politics
Clyde Haberman, writing in The New York Times, looks back at the history of white evangelical Christians’ support for the Republican Party. According to Haberman, the beginnings of today’s white evangelical movement can be traced back the 1980 presidential election, when socially conservative evangelicals rejected President Jimmy Carter in favor of Republican nominee Ronald Reagan. Haberman writes, “They liked Mr. Reagan’s staunch anti-Communism and his calls for limited government, so much so that they closed their eyes to aspects of his character — twice-married, alienated from his children, almost never attended church — that flew counter to much of what they considered elements of an upright life.” Whether white evangelicals continue to have a powerful impact on politics remains to be seen, however. According to Haberman, “the demographic tide would seem to work against them. They are getting older, with a median age of 55. Statistics from the Public Religion Research Institute in Washington show that they now account for 15 percent of the population, down from 23 percent a dozen years ago.”
PRRI CEO: White Evangelicals Vote Identity Over Issue
PRRI CEO and founder Dr. Robert P. Jones recently appeared on NPR’s Morning Edition, where he discussed white evangelicals’ “tribal” connection to Republican politics. Jones says, “Once you have several generations that are voting 80 percent Republican, it’s less that they’re doing that because of one particular issue, and more that it has become, in many ways, a kind of tribal identity that’s just inextricably tied to evangelical identity. And I think that is the tie that binds much more than any single issue.” The NPR segment focuses on the experiences of evangelicals and other Christians who feel left out of today’s Republican Party because of President Trump, and describes how progressive evangelical pastor Doug Pagitt is working to engage them through his organization, Vote Common Good.
What Will it Take for Evangelicals to Abandon Trump?
Vox’s video series “Consider It” featured a discussion about white evangelicals, their overwhelming support for Donald Trump, and why it’s as strong as it is. PRRI CEO and founder Dr. Robert Jones was part of a dialogue with Russell Moore, President of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention on the topic. According to the 2018 PRRI American Values Survey, almost seven in ten (68 percent) white evangelical Protestants have a favorable view of Trump, including 28 percent who have a very favorable view. By contrast, majorities of black Protestants (80 percent), religiously unaffiliated Americans (75 percent), Hispanic Catholics (74 percent), non-Christian religious Americans (73 percent), white mainline Protestants (52 percent), and white Catholics (52 percent) have a negative opinion of Trump.
America’s Religiously Unaffiliated vs. White Christians: PRRI CEO Robert P. Jones Weighs In
On last week’s segment of Interfaith Radio, PRRI CEO and founder Dr. Robert P. Jones spoke about the voting habits of religiously unaffiliated Americans as compared to white evangelical Protestants. According to Jones, the partisan divide between Republican-leaning white evangelicals and Democratic-leaning religiously unaffiliated Americans has hardened over the past two years. As Jones discussed on Interfaith Radio, the religiously unaffiliated are an “increasingly large group in the American landscape” and they tend to lean Democratic. However, they also typically vote in lower numbers than other Americans and are underrepresented at the polls. Religiously affiliated Americans, especially white Christian voters, turn out to vote in higher numbers than others and are therefore “considerably overrepresented” in elections. Jones noted that “in any low-turnout election, the group that can get its supporters out” can ultimately determine the election. Per PRRI’s 2018 American Values Survey, more than half (54 percent) of Americans report that they are absolutely certain to vote in this year’s midterm elections, while 19 percent say they will probably vote. Partisans are about equally likely to report that they will vote: About six in ten Democrats (63 percent) and Republicans (59 percent) say they are absolutely certain to vote.
“It Did Not Come Out of Nowhere”: NYT Interviews Experts on Anti-Semitism Following Pittsburgh Synagogue Massacre
On Saturday, eleven people were killed in a Pittsburgh synagogue after a gunman who “wanted all Jews to die” opened fire just after the morning service started. This massacre is believed to be the deadliest anti-Semitic attack in U.S. history, according to the Anti-Defamation League. In The New York Times, Saturday’s attack is put into context by experts on anti-Semitism, who say that this event “did not come out of nowhere.” In the wake of white supremacists marching in Charlottesville and increasing anti-Semitic graffiti and vandalism, many synagogues have amped up security measures. The Anti-Defamation League logged a 57 percent increase in anti-Semitic incidents in the U.S. in 2017, compared to the previous year. One possible reason behind the uptick in anti-Semitic incidents, according to several experts interviewed by the The New York Times, is the fact that conspiracy theories are being circulated by establishment sources like the president and members of Congress. According to The Times, one prominent unfounded conspiracy theory that appears to resonate with anti-Semites and white supremacists is about George Soros, a Jewish billionaire and donor to the Democratic Party. President Trump has mentioned Soros a few times on Twitter, where he accused the Democratic donor of paying protestors. Per PRRI’s 2018 American Values Survey, a majority of Americans (54 percent) believe that President Trump’s decisions and behavior as president have encouraged white supremacist groups.