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Shocker: Republicans overwhelmingly white

Republicans are much more likely to be 'highly religious whites' than are Democrats or independents, Gallup data show.

By Staff writer / September 1, 2010

People line the reflecting pool in Washington DC for the Glenn Beck "Restoring Honor" rally in front of the Lincoln Memoria on Aug. 28. According to a Gallup poll, Republicans are disproportionately white and religious.

Alex Brandon/AP

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This just in: Republicans are disproportionately white and religious. Anyone who watched or attended the Glenn Beck rally on the Washington Mall last Saturday could tell you that. But Gallup has the numbers to prove it.

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All told, 47 percent of Republicans are “highly religious whites,” compared with 24 percent of independents and 19 percent of Democrats, according to aggregated data from 220,000 surveys of Americans taken between January and Aug. 15 for Gallup Daily tracking.

According to Gallup, nearly nine out of 10 Republicans are non-Hispanic whites. Of those, more than half are highly religious – defined by Gallup as those who say “religion is important in their daily lives and who report attending religious services weekly or almost every week.” Hispanic is defined as anyone who identifies as Hispanic, regardless of race.

In its analysis, Gallup identified six religious-partisan groups in the United States. The category with the smallest portion of “highly religious whites” is liberal Democrats (13 percent), followed by moderate Democrats (20 percent highly religious whites), conservative Democrats (24 percent), independents (19 percent), moderate/liberal Republican (30 percent), and conservative Republican (50 percent).

But Republicans are not monolithically white and religious, Gallup notes. And therein lies a challenge for the party, as it seeks to regain power in Washington as a unified force.

Half of Republicans are “either less religious whites or people of other racial or ethnic groups,” writes Frank Newport, Gallup’s editor in chief. “But conservative Republicans have the highest proportion of religious whites of any of the six major partisan/ideological groups – including almost four times as many on a proportionate basis as is the case among liberal Democrats – which highlights the significance of religion in today’s political landscape.”

The Democrats’ relative racial and ethnic diversity also comes through in the data. Sixty two percent of Democrats are white, 21 percent are black, 11 percent are Hispanic, and the rest are either another race or did not specify race.

Among independents, 71 percent are white, 15 percent are Hispanic, 6 percent are black, and the rest are “other race” or unspecified.

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