Robert P. Jones, Ph.D.
November 2, 2018
"The ballot box today acts like a time machine that takes us back about 10 years, demographically speaking.”
Robert P. Jones, Ph.D., is the CEO of PRRI, a leading scholar, and the author of The End of White Christian America. PRRI is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that conducts independent research at the intersection of religion, culture, and public policy. We discuss how partisanship, demographic changes, and low voter turnout affect American society.
There is broad agreement that voter turnout should be higher and that voting should be easier. However, only half of young people are convinced that voting is a fundamental way to create change, whereas everyone over age 30 does. Surprisingly, a quarter of Americans are unsure about the most fundamental requirement to be eligible for voting: you have to be a citizen.
The diversity in the American religious and ethnic landscapes today will not show up at the ballot box until 2024, if current turnout rates stay the same. Although America is no longer a majority white Christian country, the ballot box rewinds the demographic change clock by about a decade. Black women are poised buck the trend this year and turn out at historically higher rates.
Our nation’s tribalism has devolved to the point where many have stopped examining the issues and instead have used them to indicate their partisan loyalty. Public schools are less integrated than in the 1980s, and churches are becoming increasingly partisan as well as mono-racial. Seven in ten Americans have said that they need a break from the news because it is overwhelming. One sliver of hope is at the local level, where people are more able to put aside their differences to collaborate on community issues.
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Robert P. Jones, Ph.D., is a leading scholar and CEO of the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI), a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to conducting independent research at the intersection of religion, culture, and public policy.