Christian Democrats mostly support Biden; atheists more likely to support Sanders, Warren: Pew

Democratic presidential candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden, speaks during a campaign event on January 3, 2020, in Independence, Iowa. Biden spoke about foreign policy and domestic issues. | Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Christian members of the Democratic Party are more likely to support former Vice President Joe Biden while atheist and agnostic members prefer either Sens. Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren, according to Pew Research Center.

A report released by Pew’s Fact Tank on Friday found that among Democratic candidates, Biden polled the strongest with Christian respondents.

According to Pew, 36 percent of Protestants, including 37 percent of the subcategory of white evangelicals, picked him as their first choice for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Sanders placed a distant second among Protestants with 13 percent, while Warren, herself a member of the United Methodist Church, had 11 percent support, and Episcopalian Peter Buttigieg had 5 percent, tying former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Biden was also the top choice among his fellow Catholics, with 34 percent of Catholic respondents selecting him as their first choice as the nominee.

By contrast, 18 percent of Catholic respondents chose Sanders, 10 percent chose Warren, 8 percent chose Bloomberg, and 7 percent chose Buttigieg.

Sanders did poll the strongest among religiously unaffiliated respondents, with 28 percent of unaffiliated picking him as their first choice.

Sanders also led in the subcategories of unaffiliated, with 30 percent of atheists and 36 percent of agnostics picking him over the rest of the Democratic field.

For her part, Warren placed second among the three classifications, getting the support of 21 percent of unaffiliated respondents, 29 percent of atheists, and 23 percent of agnostics.

Among respondents labeled “Nothing in particular,” another subcategory of unaffiliated, Sanders led with 23 percent, followed by Biden with 18 percent, and Warren with 16 percent.

The national survey was conducted in January in advance of the Iowa Caucus, drawing from a sample of 5,861 voters classified as “Democratic” and “Democratic-leaning voters.”

While a practicing Catholic known to be open about his faith, Biden has garnered the occasional public opposition from Catholic Church clergy over his stance on abortion.

Last October, for example, Biden was denied communion by Father Robert E. Morey of Saint Anthony Catholic Church of Florence, South Carolina.

“Holy Communion signifies we are one with God, each other and the Church,” Morey told SC Now at the time.

“Our actions should reflect that. Any public figure who advocates for abortion places himself or herself outside of Church teaching.”

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