Republican Primary Voters’ Polling Data: Let’s Make the US a Christian Nation

Today I came across this report from Public Policy Polling after the group polled a few hundred Republican Primary voters. A brief methodology is attached to their report:

PPP surveyed 316 Republican primary voters from February 20th to 22nd. The margin of error for the survey is +/- 5.5%. This survey was conducted through automated telephone interviews and interviews over the internet to voters who don’t have landline phones.

The margin of error is to be expected in a poll of this size, so don’t let that trouble you. Furthermore, if we skew the data in either direction towards the marginal error extremes, it doesn’t look much better. Nevertheless, this is very interesting data. Here are some highlights.

One Quarter of Republicans Polled Identify as Tea Party Members

27% of those polled profess membership with the Tea Party. 60% claim no membership with the group. 12% were unsure (how can you be unsure whether or not you’re a member of the Tea Party anyway?).

This is rather troubling because this is the group that most rejects same-sex marriage and supports a biblical view of the universe, the earth, the origins of life, and the environment instead of a view based on the evidence around us.

Two Thirds Do Not Believe in Global Warming

Only 25% of those polled accept that the evidence supports a warming global climate. 10% were uncertain (I’ll let them have that, as long as they consult the academic literature prior to voting on issues related to global warming). But 66% of those polled completely reject the scientific consensus and the fact that the earth’s climate is becoming hotter.

Half Do Not Believe in Evolution

49% flat out reject evolution. This is not surprising, but it’s extremely frustrating. Interestingly, 37% of Republicans polled do believe in evolution, and 13% are uncertain. We can call this a glass-is-half-full scenario. It’s nowhere near an optimal level, but at least a third of Republicans understand and accept basic biology.

Over Half Literally Want to Nullify the First Amendment 

57% of Republicans polled are in favor of “establishing Christianity as the national religion,” despite the First Amendment’s clear language assertion that (the very first thing it says), “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.” 30% oppose it, and 13% are unsure.

There are a lot of things about our laws with which I disagree, but I accept them because I’m willing to take the bad with the good. For example, I don’t own firearms. I think guns are rather blockheaded. But I do not support laws aimed at curtailing gun ownership because, despite the Constitution being an imperfect document, it’s the best set of laws we have. I would never support changing the Bill of Rights just to force people to live by my own beliefs. If Christians want a Christian nation, they can have one after they die (which is what they believe is going to happen anyway).

The Takeaway

This data would seem to suggest many Republicans in the US completely reject science and believe their religion is special enough to justify dismantling part of the most important American document ever written. While I’m not afraid of these people — the slow march of progress tends to make them irrelevant — it frustrates me greatly to see these results.

About Rayan Zehn

I'm a political scientist.
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5 Responses to Republican Primary Voters’ Polling Data: Let’s Make the US a Christian Nation

  1. Barry says:

    I find it difficult to understand the fascination with religion, Christianity in particular, that pervades the American right. In a country which supposedly was built on reason and logic, there seems to be too little of it.

    Your constitution separates religion and politics, but when has a major US leader been elected where his/her religion is not up for scrutiny? Even appointed officials seem to have their religion dragged into the merits of their appointment. I find this very hard to understand.

    The situation is so different where I live. Religion is simply not a topic for discussion when it comes to choosing our politicians or public officials. Apart from out Prime Minister, who has publicly stated he’s an atheist, there is only one politician who’s religion is well known, and that’s because of the dress code his religion demands (he’s a Sikh). Generally the press and the public respect that personal beliefs are a private matter. What counts is what they say and do in public. Perhaps the only time a politician’s personal life is opened to scrutiny is when he/she is caught doing something that he/she has opposed in public life.

    The US is still a powerful and influential country, and it is somewhat alarming to know that so many of its citizens prefer to believe myth over science.

    Out of curiosity, how did PPP identify Republican primary voters? The document doesn’t mention this. I assume it was necessary for them to poll a much larger number of individuals and then ignore those who said they were not Republican primary voters or refused to divulge their political allegiance. It’s a pity that the description of the methodology is incomplete.

    • Rayan Zehn says:

      I’m not entirely sure, but it’s possible they used information that’s in the public domain. For transparency reasons, when you register to vote in a particular primary, it becomes pubic knowledge because we can only vote in one primary. But some other method might have been used instead.

      • Barry says:

        Do you mean to say that when you vote in a primary your choice becomes public knowledge?

      • Rayan Zehn says:

        It doesn’t go that far, but voters cannot vote in both primaries. They can only vote in one. So their registration for the election itself is public knowledge. That way they can’t defraud the election by voting in both.

      • Barry says:

        I must admit, as an outsider, the American political system is quite baffling to me. Primaries and the Electoral College in particular.

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