Two Different Takes on Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s Support from African American Voters
Talk about Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s electability among African American voters has been at the forefront of discussion this past week, largely stemming from Rep. Jim Clyburn’s comments about Buttigieg’s chances in South Carolina, where African Americans make up 60% of the Democratic electorate.
In a recent piece, PRRI board member Paul Djupe, a political scientist at Denison University, looked at data he collected in 2016 to see how different racial groups feel about other groups that are core to the Democratic Party. He found that African Americans expressed “colder” feelings toward “homosexuals” and atheists than any other racial group, but the warmest feelings toward Christian fundamentalists out of the other groups. Djupe writes that “Mayor Pete appears to have a heavy lift in front of him to convince Black voters to support him. Polls already indicate very weak support for him among African Americans, though I would not want to chalk that up solely to prejudice… but it would also be a mistake to dismiss these patterns as a trope.”
In a different take, Jonathan Capehart responds to this ongoing discussion “as a black man and gay man.” He argues that pundits who continue to perpetuate the lie that blacks are more homophobic than anyone else are smearing African Americans as a whole. Capehart says that Clyburn’s comments about Buttigieg are true, but not just for African Americans. “Only a naif would think his sexual orientation would not be an issue, not just for African Americans, but for the country as a whole.” He uses PRRI data to argue his point that African Americans have evolved on LGBTQ equality along with the rest of the country, which “obliterates the blacks-riven-with-homophobia-myth.”
According to the PRRI data, 69% of all African Americans support laws that would protect LGBT people from discrimination in jobs, public accommodations, and housing. Sixty-five percent of black Protestants support these protections, along with 68% of black Democrats, 65% of black independents, 73% of young Americans, 60% of black men, and 69% of black women.
The Televangelism of Kanye West
In a recent piece for VICE, Kristin Corry asks several religious scholars to analyze Kanye West’s new album. Music from “Jesus is King,” his first completely religious offering, was first heard during Kanye’s weekly Sunday Service music performances. Since the performances began, they have gone from whispered-about, invite-only spectacles, to public concerts that are featured on the Christian Broadcasting Network. According to Princeton assistant professor Dr. Jay-Paul Hinds, Kanye’s religious awakening is similar to the commodification of religion that televangelists have done for decades. “Kanye is doing nothing different than what televangelists do on a weekly basis which sells the word, sells the message, sells the gospel. It’s ‘If I don’t sell this right, I’m not going to get viewership. If I don’t sell this right, somebody’s not going to buy my tapes. If I don’t sell this right, somebody’s not going to come to my conferences.’ Even on a micro-level, ‘If I don’t sell this right, people aren’t going to come to my church.’ Membership, tithing, all of it is about commodifying the gospel. He’s doing nothing different,” Dr. Hinds says.
Can Democrats Win Over Working-Class White Voters in 2020?
Ron Brownstein continues his analysis of the 2020 election with a new piece looking at working-class white voters. Among the many questions shaping the 2020 debate, Brownstein wonders if “Democrats can exploit the religious gap in attitudes toward Trump that has emerged among his core constituency of working-class white voters.” Brownstein points out that working-class whites who are not evangelicals have shown much more resistance to Trump than working-class whites who are evangelicals. PRRI CEO and founder Robert P. Jones says that this divergence “is one of the most important political gaps we have.” Non-evangelical working-class white voters, especially women, could prove to be a decisive group between the evangelicals who continue to support Trump and the non-evangelical college-educated whites who do not support him. Looking at key groups of white voters from PRRI’s most recent survey, it is evident that white evangelicals without college degrees consistently take a more conservative stance on social and economic issues that any other segment of voters. Brownstein writes that 75% of non-college-educated white evangelical men and 65% of women agree that discrimination against whites is now as big a problem as discrimination against minorities. According to Jones, there are significant differences between college-educated evangelicals and working-class evangelicals: the college-educated are less likely to feel a sense of “siege” in a changing America than the working-class. However, PRRI data shows that non-college-educated evangelicals make up 70% of the evangelical population.