The differences were particularly striking on race. For instance, a quarter of Trump voters who never attend church describe being white as “very important” to their identity; for the most frequent churchgoers voters, it was 9 percent. Among non-churchgoing Trump voters, only 48 percent had warm feelings toward black people, compared to 71 percent of weekly churchgoers; the same sort of pattern held for views of Hispanics, Asians and Jews.
Churchgoing Trump voters were still more culturally conservative than Hillary Clinton voters — more likely to support the death penalty, more skeptical of immigration — and their views of Muslims, interestingly, seemed to have been influenced by Trump’s own rhetoric, becoming more hostile between 2016 and 2017.
But in general, churchgoing Republicans look more like the party many elite conservatives wanted to believe existed before Trump came along — more racially-tolerant, more accepting of multiculturalism and globalization, and also more consistently libertarian on economics. Secularized Trump voters look more like the party as Trump has tried to remake it, blending an inchoate economic populism with strong racial resentments.
Interestingly in the survey the different groups make about the same amount of money, which cuts against strict economic-anxiety explanations for Trumpism. But the churchgoers and nonchurchgoers differ more in social capital: The irreligious are less likely to have college degrees, less likely to be married and more likely to be divorced; they’re also less civically engaged, less satisfied with their neighborhoods and communities, and less trusting and optimistic in general.
This seems to support the argument, advanced by Tim Carney of the Washington Examiner among others, that support for populism correlates with a kind of communal breakdown, in which secularization is one variable among many leaving people feeling isolated and angry, and drawing them to the ersatz solidarity of white identity politics.