As our attention shifts from the primaries to the general election, for the first time in years religiosity looks like it’s going to matter less than gender in determining the presidential vote.
Between men and women the divide is huge when it comes to Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. According to the latest GW Battleground Poll — which has Clinton leading Trump 46 percent to 43 percent — women favor Clinton over Trump 54 percent to 35 percent while men go the other way 52 percent to 37 percent. Adding the two differentials yields a 34-point gender gap that far outstrips the 20-point gap between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney in 2012 — itself the largest such gap in Gallup Poll history.
By contrast, the Battleground Poll has the Clinton-Trump God gap at under 15 points, with those who say they go to church at least once a week preferring Trump to Clinton by nine points and those attending less frequently preferring Clinton to Trump by less than six. That compares to a God gap in 2012 of nearly 40 points.
Since the God gap became salient in the 1990s, it’s always exceeded the gender gap. Not, evidently, this year. Between women’s support for one of their own and the misogyny of the other candidate, gender identity is trumping religion.
This can be seen in a number of other Battleground metrics. A significant gender gap has, for example, opened up between male and female evangelicals (white and otherwise), with the former supporting Trump over Clinton two-to-one and the latter backing Clinton over Trump 48 percent to 44 percent.
Then there’s the decline in support for the Democratic presidential candidate on the part of the Nones. They voted for Obama over Romney 70 percent to 26 percent but support Clinton over Trump by just 59 percent to 28 percent. Did I mention that Nones are disproportionately male?
In fact, except for the Nones, Battleground shows only one religious demographic group trending toward Trump. Roman Catholics voted for Obama over Romney by a couple of points but are now supporting Trump over Clinton 45 percent to 39 percent. Does this reflect a deep-seated Catholic proclivity for having a man at the top? In the immortal words of Francis Urquhart, “You might think that, I couldn’t possibly comment.”