Willing to vote for an atheist President? Yes!


Every year since 1994 whenever I have taught Intro to Sociology I have administered a 15 item opinion survey. I have used this exercise primarily to talk about methodology, but also to explore trends in American popular opinion. In all years previous, three of the questions asked were "All factors being equal, I would feel comfortable voting for a [female, African-American, gay person] for President." This year I added "atheist" to this series of questions. The results of this latest survey were interesting, and I was pleasantly surprised at how receptive the students were to an atheist President.

Here are the data from 75 students (vast majority first year, 70% female):




Coincidentally, this week in our weekly student newspaper a student "outed" herself in an opinion column. Here is the http://www.elon.edu/pendulum/Story.aspx?id=3259 link. Elon University is located in the Bible Belt in central North Carolina, though we draw students from all over the US.

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Tags: atheist, for, president

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Comment by Jim DePaulo on February 12, 2010 at 9:04am
Next year why don't you include a religious fundamentalist as one of the options.
Comment by tom arcaro on February 12, 2010 at 7:42am
Yes, Chrys, interesting but not surprising. The popular culture in the US is full of gay and lesbian figures that are fully out and accepted; their sexual orientation is not an issue. No so much with atheists....
Comment by Chrys Stevenson on February 12, 2010 at 2:34am
Interesting however, that, numerically, more would support a gay president than an atheist president and more students were strongly opposed to an atheist president than a gay president.
Comment by ryan cameron on February 11, 2010 at 10:21pm
The fact that atheists have been so vocal and out there in popular media, I believe, makes it a time of unprecedented acceptance of Atheism. But as your graph shows, that new found acceptance among many has created a bigger panic among those who see atheism as a direct threat to their fiefdoms.

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