Actually, we ARE mostly Democrats

First Secular Census voter analysis exposes political diversity as myth

The secular constituency's political affiliations, voting habits, and positions on non-core issues have been long-standing enigmas within secular identity organizations that address public policy issues or provide voter resources. With one notable exception, the National Atheist Party, virtually all of these groups are organized under Internal Revenue Service codes that rule out partisan stances and candidate endorsements and, in many cases, place limits on direct and grassroots lobbying expenditures. Nonetheless, organizations (as well as individual activists within them) are sometimes called upon to convey the political profile of the typical Secular American to elected officials or the media -- or in some cases to develop insights that will inform the organization's internal decisions and strategies.

The absence of empirical data to meet these specific needs was one motivation for the founding of the American Secular Census. Until now, educated guesswork and anecdotal experience have had to suffice when secular leaders have been asked about the party affiliations, candidate preferences, or political contributions of Secular Americans. Often, political diversity has been given lip service -- presumably to avoid stereotypes, appearances of partisanship, and the alienation of members and supporters presumed to hold minority views. But, as we are finding with this first ever voter snapshot of the American Secular Census, political diversity is not the norm within the secular constituency. In our party affiliations, candidate choices, and political contributions, Secular Americans demonstrate a decided preference for the Democratic party.


  • Follow the money
    More than 92% of registrants who have made political contributions during the 2012 election season have chosen to support Democratic candidates and/or political action committees.
  • Track voter registration
    Two thirds of those registered to vote have affiliated with a specific political party. More than 72% of those are Democrats, with the Republicans running a very distant second at only 10.2%.
  • Count the votes
    More than 80% of Census registrants normally vote for Democratic candidates or state that they have "no consistent pattern but lean towards" the Democratic party. No other party captured more than single digits in this category.

    Registered voters in the Census voted for Barack Obama to the tune of 87.7% in 2008 and almost 75% say they would do so today. Secular voters went Democratic in 2004, too.
  • Watch the swing votes swing
    Ron Paul retains most of the non-Democratic votes in our registry at this time; even so, his support is an unimpressive 7.4%, just slightly higher than the undecided 5.9%. Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson is favored by just 1.4% and presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney barely registers, with under 0.1% support.
  • It's the economy Constitution, stupid.
    We ask Census registrants, "Which of these issues or factors will you consider in evaluating the 2012 Presidential / Vice-Presidential candidates? Check as many as apply." Their most frequently chosen response: Separation of religion and government (87.8%). Science policy comes in second (79%) and civil liberties, the economy, and healthcare are tied for third place (76.5%).

The analysis

Below are statistics computed from today's snapshot of the Political Profile and Election 2012 forms recorded by American Secular Census registrants.

In keeping with our culture of privacy, the information below was calculated from values queried directly from database tables which do not contain visible identifying information such as name, username, or e-mail address.

In decreasing order by voter registration rates:

Democratic Party

  • 72.3% with a party affiliation are registered as Democrats.
    Regardless of party affiliation:
  • 80.6% normally vote Democratic or lean that way.
  • 74.5% would vote for President Barack Obama today.
  • 87.7% voted for Barack Obama / Joe Biden in 2008.
  • 73.5% voted for John Kerry / John Edwards in 2004.
  • 92% who have made political donations during the current election season supported Democratic candidates and/or political action committees.

Republican Party

  • 10.2% with a party affiliation are registered as Republicans.
    Regardless of party affiliation:
  • 4.2% normally vote Republican or lean that way.
  • 7.4% would vote for Ron Paul today.
  • < 0.1% would vote for presumptive candidate Mitt Romney today.
  • 4.9% voted for John McCain / Sarah Palin in 2008.
  • 13.6% voted for Former Pres. George W. Bush / Former V.P. Dick Cheney in 2004.
  • 7.8% who have made political donations during the current election season supported Republican candidates and/or political action committees.

Libertarian Party

  • 4.2% with a party affiliation are registered as Libertarians.
    Regardless of party affiliation:
  • 9.7% normally vote Libertarian or lean that way.
  • 1.4% would vote for Gary Johnson today.

Green Party of the United States

  • 3% with a party affiliation are registered as Greens.
    Regardless of party affiliation:
  • < 0.1% normally vote Green or lean that way.

None of the above(s)

  • 33.4% of those registered to vote have no specific party affiliation.
  • 5.9% are undecided about their 2012 Presidential vote.
  • 2% do not plan to cast a 2012 Presidential vote.
  • 7.4% voted for an independent or 3rd party candidate in 2008.
  • 12.9% voted for an independent or 3rd party candidate in 2004.

How secular voters say they will evaluate the 2012 Presidential candidates

Multiple responses are permitted.

  • 87.8% - Separation of religion and government
  • 79.0% - Science policy
  • 76.5% - Civil liberties
  • 76.5% - Healthcare
  • 76.5% - Economy
  • 75.9% - Candidate's intelligence
  • 74.2% - Reproductive rights
  • 73.6% - Education
  • 73.4% - Gay rights
  • 67.1% - Candidate's attitude towards Secular Americans
  • 66.0% - Environment
  • 60.0% - Candidate's character
  • 56.6% - Energy policy
  • 53.2% - Foreign policy
  • 43.3% - Social Security / Medicare
  • 30.9% - Defense
  • 30.6% - Transportation / infrastructure
  • 29.2% - Immigration
  • 21.0% - Veteran programs
  • 15.3% - Homeland security
  • 13.3% - Candidate's chance of winning
  • 09.0% - Agriculture
  • 05.7% - Something not listed here
  • 01.1% - Candidate's race
  • 00.8% - Unsure
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