Latino Catholics more likely to vote Democratic than Protestants


Latino Public Policy postdoc Alicia Reyes-Barrientez presented on her dissertation, “Divided by Faith? An Examination of Religious Affiliation as a Determinant of Group Consciousness Among Latinxs” at the Tower Center Oct. 26.

Reyes-Barrientez found that Latinos have historically voted Democratic, with the Democratic Party receiving 58 percent of their vote on average from 1977-2014. The Republican Party has received only 19 percent on average, with the years 2000 and 2004 as an exception when George W. Bush received more than 40 percent of the vote.

According to a Pew Research poll, 55 percent of Latinos in the U.S. identify as Catholic, and 22 percent are Protestants. In her research, Reyes-Barrientez looked at four sub-groups to better understand how religion affects voting habits: evangelical Catholics, mainline Catholics, evangelical Protestants and mainline Protestants, with the evangelicals being more religiously traditional.

While these groups share traditional values that should align them with the Republican Party, such as being pro-life and anti-gay marriage, they vote Democratic because that Party is perceived as what is best for the group. The more connected Latinos feel to each other, the more likely they are to vote Democratic.

This means, Reyes-Barrientez argues, that Catholics, and even more so evangelical Catholics, are most likely to vote Democratic; belonging to the Catholic Church enhances group consciousness and promotes political unity among Latinos.