Over the past few years, there has been a lot of talk about the 1%, the 99%, the 98%, and even Romney’s 47%. All these numbers have made their way into our political discourse such that for the most part, we could simply say the percentage number, and a large number of people would know what we are talking about. No matter where one is on the political spectrum, these numbers have played a role in shaping political awareness and political discourse.
There may be some other lesser known percentages that have even more influence on the political landscape than those above. First up, 41%. According to a Pew Research poll in 2010, 41% is the percentage of persons in the United States who believe that Jesus Christ will return before the year 2050. 23% think this will definitely happen and 18% think that it will probably happen. For more on the numbers and the survey see Pew Research Poll.
Another significant number for the political landscape of the United States is 42%. According to a Gallop poll in 2014, this is the percentage number of persons in the United States who believe that God created humans in their present form 10,000 years ago. This is a statistic that has held steady for the past three decades. For more detailed information see Gallup Poll.
41% and 42% – these are perhaps the two most important numbers in understanding politics in the United States. Views on climate change, international affairs (especially our relationship to Israel), science in general, women’s reproductive rights, LGBTQ rights, and long term sustainability are all influenced by where one stands in relation to the questions about the return of Christ and evolutionary theory. Why be concerned about climate change and sustainability if one truly believes that Christ will return by 2050? Why have any coherent international agenda other than supporting Israel if one truly believes Christ will return by 2050? Why develop any policies for long term sustainability if one truly believes that Christ will return by 2050? Why would persons listen to climate scientists and environmental scientists when they already have a bias against science that is telling them their views about creation are wrong? Why work for women’s rights and LGBTQ rights when the worldview that makes you believe that Christ will return by 2050 and humans have only existed for 10,000 years also tells you that women should submit and LGBTQ persons are sinners. If one believes that the earth as we know it will end by 2050 and that we have only been here for about 10,000 years, this has a profound effect on one’s worldview and political outlook.
These figures of 41% and 42% are not prominent in our public political discourse in the same way the 1%, the 99%, the 98%, or even the 47% are, but that does not make them any less important. Republican political operatives are very aware of these numbers. They count on these numbers to be the minimum floor of support for the Republican Party on the national level. In some regions of the country where the percentages are higher, the Republican Party has almost complete political hegemony. Nationally, they know they have to find a way to convince at least another 8% or 9% to move in their direction, so different messaging is used to sway that demographic. As we move into the general election of 2016, these numbers will be significant, and this is why the Trump campaign knows that it must cultivate the 41% and 42% as much as any other demographic. This is the minimum floor of support they are counting on. If Trump begins to lose votes from the 41% and 42%, he is finished.