May 23, 2022 • 1HR 3M

Theory of Change #038: Gerardo Martí on how Latino evangelicalism is reshaping American politics

American politics, politicians and parties should take notice as White evangelicals are heavily influencing their Latino fellow believers


Appears in this episode

Matthew Sheffield
Lots of people want to change the world. But how does change happen? History is filled with stories of people and institutions that spent big and devoted many resources to effect change but have little to show for it. By contrast, many societal developments have happened without forethought from anyone. And of course, change can be negative as well as positive. In each episode of this weekly program, Theory of Change host Matthew Sheffield delves deep with guests to discuss larger trends in politics, religion, media, and technology.
Episode details
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Congregation members pray at an evangelical youth convention. May 19, 2018. Photo: Ismael Paramo

Episode Summary

As we head into the 2022 mid-term elections and further on into the 2024 presidential election, one of the hottest topics in political strategy is where will Latino voters fit into the equation.

Historically, Democrats have done better among Latinos, but in 2020, former president Donald Trump improved his share among the group by 8 percent—a development that ought to signal to political observers that Latino voters are a complicated group, motivated by much more than concerns about immigration.

In addition to a variety of ethnic differences, Latino Americans are starting to manifest some of the other differences that have previously been observed among White Americans. Joe Biden won 69 percent of college-degreed Latino voters, but his share dropped to 55 percent among those without a college degree.

There also appears to be an emerging religious divide among Latinos with those who adhere to no religion or to Roman Catholicism being more likely to support Democrats and those who are Protestant more likely to support Republicans.

In a 2020 survey by the Public Religion Research Institute, 57 percent of the Hispanic Protestant bloc said they approved of the job then-president Trump was doing while just 27 percent of Catholics agreed. Among non-religious Latinos, his approval rating was even lower–16 percent.

With Hispanic Protestants—primarily evangelicals—growing at a rapid rate, what does that mean for the future of American politics? Joining us to discuss is Gerardo Martí, he’s a professor of sociology at Davidson College and also the president-elect of the Association for the Sociology of Religion.

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