The most divisive issue in politics today

The New York Times reports unsurprising news given this past week:

In the wake of the mass shooting in Las Vegas on Sunday, the polling firm SurveyMonkey published a pair of maps from its 2016 presidential election exit polls. It showed the electoral maps for voters who said they had a gun in their home, and for those who said they did not.

In every state but Vermont – perhaps the most liberal state in the country, but one where Democrats, including Bernie Sanders, often support gun rights – voters who reported living in a gun-owning household overwhelmingly backed Donald J. Trump.

The opposite is true for voters who said they did not live in a home with a gun. In all but one state that could be measured, voters overwhelmingly preferred Hillary Clinton. (The exception was West Virginia; not enough data existed for Wyoming.)

Over all, gun-owning households (roughly a third in America) backed Mr. Trump by 63 percent to 31 percent, while households without guns backed Mrs. Clinton, 65 percent to 30 percent, according to SurveyMonkey data.

No other demographic characteristic created such a consistent geographic split.

Indeed, it doesn’t get much more stark than Hillary Clinton-voting households without guns …

… against Donald Trump-voting households with guns:

This is not to say that gun ownership is a bigger divide in American politics than race or the combination of race and education, or a bigger driver of America’s political divide. After all, part of the reason gun ownership splits voters so starkly is because gun owners are more likely than Americans generally to be white, less educated and living in a rural area. Over all, 83 percent of gun household voters were white in 2016, according to the SurveyMonkey data.

But it might not be merely demographics. Mr. Trump appeared to fare better in the SurveyMonkey data among gun-owning households than non-gun-owning households even after considering the voters’ race and education. He won white voters without a degree who lived in gun-owning households by 74 percent to 21 percent. He even won college-educated white voters in gun-owning households, 60-34, and fared better among nonwhite voters in gun households, losing, 61-34. Mrs. Clinton won nonwhite voters over all, 75-21.

Even so, education, race and religion tend to do a better job of predicting an individual’s presidential vote choice. It is probably fair to say that gun ownership embodies America’s partisan divide more than it drives it. …

Religiosity – how often someone goes to church – has been a strong predictor of party affiliation, with frequent churchgoers much more likely to be be Republicans. The political preferences of more religious Americans yield a deeply red map, with religious voters from just three (relatively large) states – California, New York and Maryland – preferring Mrs. Clinton. Nonwhite voters most likely represent a disproportionate share of Democratic-leaning religious voters in many of these states.

About religion …
… other than voters who call themselves “non-evangelical” (upper left), Trump outperformed Hillary in every religious category — among evangelical voters (upper right), Catholics and Protestants (middle right), and those who go to church at least once a week (lower right).

That’s sort of funny to me given that I fit into three of these maps (non-evangelical who attends church at least once a week, and by the way the Episcopal Church is neither Catholic nor Protestant, but never mind that right now), and as you know I didn’t vote for Trump, but under no circumstances would I ever vote for Hillary.

This suggests a huge values divide in this nation.


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