Study shows diverse religious affiliation of primary voters

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BOSTON – Studying the links between religious and political affiliations can occasionally help pollsters understand voter decisions.

A Pew Research Center study released Monday shows that only a third of Massachusetts residents say they are “highly religious,” ranking the state the least devout in the country, tied with New Hampshire at and close to Vermont and Maine, which both ranked at 34 percent.

In Massachusetts, about 50 percent of Republicans are Catholic, 20 percent are unaffiliated with any religion, 11 percent are mainline Protestants and 10 percent are evangelical Protestants, according to a Pew Research Center report released on Thursday.

Among Bay State Democrats, 20 percent are Catholic, while 37 percent are unaffiliated with any religion. About 11 percent follow non-Christian faiths, compared with 4 percent of Republicans who said the same.

New England contrasts starkly with the rest of the country. Almost half of Republicans – 47 percent – in the 12 Super Tuesday states, excluding Vermont due to the small sample size, are evangelical Protestants. Just 15 percent are Catholics and 17 percent are mainline Protestants.

And while Republicans generally find religion more important to them compared with Democrats – two-thirds or more of Republicans in seven Super Tuesday states, for example, say religion is very important to them, compared with slightly more than half of Democrats who say that – Massachusetts again breaks the trend.

Among Bay State Republicans, 79 percent are affiliated with a religion but only a third say their faith is very important in their lives.

Contact Kara Bettis at [email protected] or on Twitter @karabettis