Are Conservative Christians Conservative Voters?
Recent Republican victories have been attributed to the voting strength of the religious right. Popular rhetoric has it that by appealing to the faith-based values of conservative Christians, the Republican party has been able to ride moral issues such as abortion, gay marriage, and stem-cell research to political power and glory. According to the opinions of the punditry it is this ever-growing demographic of “values voters” that clinched George W. Bush’s win in 2004. However, in their new book The Truth about Conservative Christians: What They Think and What They Believe authors Michael Greeley and Andrew Hout argue otherwise. An article in the October 21 Economist applauds Greeley and Hout for brilliantly deconstructing some of the myths about the conservative Christian electorate, and revealing the factors that truly motivate their political decisions. From the Economist:
[Conservative Christians] actually make up a third of the population. Common sense would suggest that they do not think alike. Now two academics have found data to support common sense. In a new study, The Truth about Conservative Christians, Andrew Greeley and Michael Hout, two sociologists, explode some cherished myths…
The biggest myth of all is that conservative Christians are dyed-in-the-wool republicans. Mr. Bush certainly enjoyed a big lead (17%) among weekly churchgoers last election. But he enjoyed a bigger lead (19%) among married people with children; in a closely divided country you can slice the electorate into all sorts of groups that “delivered’ the election.
Bill Clinton did significantly better among conservative Christians with below average incomes than either George Bush senior or Bob Dole. This year the Democrats could repeat his success. A Gallup poll conducted on October 6th-8th shows that among “white frequent churchgoers” the margin of support for Republicans over Democrats has shrunk from 22% in September to nothing today.
Want to know the real issues influencing the conservative vote in the upcoming elections? Read Greeley and Hout’s The Truth about Conservative Christians. We also have an excerpt, “The Politics of Conservative Christianity in Black and White.”