Atheists and Agnostics Support Bernie Sanders While Christians and Jews Favor Joe Biden, Says Survey

Democratic registered voters who are Protestant and Catholic are most likely to back former Vice President Joe Biden as their top 2020 candidate, while Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders dominates support of non-religious Americans.

The national Pew Research Center survey of registered Democrats released Friday found Biden holds the support of 36 percent of Protestants and a whopping 44 percent of black Protestants, four times more than any other candidate. Catholic and Jewish voters also leaned toward Biden, while nearly twice as many atheists, agnostics and unaffiliated voters support either Sanders or Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren. Meanwhile, religiously-unaffiliated Democrats, a broad group also referred to as "nones," expressed overwhelming support for Sanders and Warren as their favored Democratic presidential candidates.

Thirty-six percent of agnostics, or people who claim neither faith nor disbelief in the existence of God or a higher power, said they support Sanders, compared to 16 percent who support Biden. Additionally, Sanders holds the highest percentage of support from atheists, who are defined by Merriam-Webster as "a person who does not believe in the existence of a god or any gods." Warren trails just behind Sanders in atheist support but both progressive candidates have twice the backing of any other Democrat.

Both Biden and Sanders have three times as much support from Hispanic Catholics as Warren, who garnered only 7 percent of support from that religious group.

Sanders and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg would make history by becoming the first Jewish U.S. president. But Biden has nearly three times as much support from Jews who identify as Democrats.

Biden's significant advantage among black Protestants has remained steady, but 30 percent of respondents said they are still undecided about their top 2020 candidate.

In terms of the general election, only 14 percent of white evangelical Protestants said they would probably or definitely vote for a Democratic candidate in the November general election. And similar to the 2016 election, a solid majority of white evangelical Protestants said they plan to "definitely" vote to reelect President Donald Trump. More than three-quarters (77 percent) of white evangelical Protestants said they approve of Trump's performance. And majorities of both non-evangelical Christians and white Catholics also said they strongly approve of Trump's time in office.

Sixty percent of black Protestants said they would be disappointed if Trump is reelected in November.

A November Pew Forum survey of religious roles in American society found that nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of U.S. adults of any political affiliation said churches and other houses of worship should stay out of politics and policy. An even larger majority of Americans--76 percent--said religious houses of worship should not come out in support of any specific candidate. And about 4-in-10 U.S. adults said churches and religious organizations have "too much" influence on U.S. politics.

bernie sanders christians atheist support
Democratic Party Protestants, Catholics and Jews broadly favor Joe Biden for president while atheists, agnostics and religious unaffiliated voters support either Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren. JOSH EDELSON / AFP/Getty Images

Former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who has highlighted his Christian faith during his campaign, pulled in double digits of support from white non-evangelicals, white Catholics and Jews.