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A Matter of Faith

A Matter of Faith: Religion in the 2004 Presidential Election

David E. Campbell Editor
Copyright Date: 2007
Pages: 308
  • Book Info
    A Matter of Faith
    Book Description:

    "Moral values" dominated the post-election headlines in 2004. Analysts pointed to exit polls, strong turnout among evangelicals, and controversy over gay marriage as evidence that the election had been decided along religious lines. Soon, however, this explanation was called into question. In A Matter of Faith, distinguished scholars go beyond the headlines to assess the role of religion in the 2004 election. Were issues such as stem cell research really more influential than the economy and Iraq? Did deeply religious Americans necessarily vote Republican? Was the morality factor really a dramatic new development?

    David E. Campbell and his colleagues examine the religious affiliations of voters and party elite and evaluate the claim that moral values were decisive in 2004. The authors analyze strategies used to mobilize religious conservatives and examine the voting behavior of a broad range of groups, including evangelicals, African-Americans, and the understudied religious left. This rich perspective on faith and politics is essential reading on a critical aspect of American politics.

    Contributors include John Green (University of Akron; Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life), James Guth (Furman University), Sunshine Hillygus (Harvard University), Laura Hussey (University of Baltimore), John Jackson (University of Southern Illinois), Scott Keeter (Pew Research Center for the People and the Press), Lyman Kellstedt (Wheaton College), Geoffrey Layman (University of Maryland), David Leal (University of Texas at Austin), David Leege (Notre Dame), Eric McDaniel (University of Texas at Austin),Quin Monson (Brigham Young University), Barbara Norrander (University of Arizona), Jan Norrander (University of Minnesota), Baxter Oliphant (Brigham Young University), Corwin Smidt (Calvin College), and Matthew Wilson (Southern Methodist University).

    eISBN: 978-0-8157-1329-6
    Subjects: Political Science, Religion

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-x)
    David E. Campbell
  4. 1 The 2004 Election: A Matter of Faith?
    (pp. 1-12)
    David E. Campbell

    Few observers of American politics deny that in recent years religion has come to play an increasingly important role in the nation’s elections, especially the presidential election. To some, perhaps many, religion may appear to be a new factor in national politics. But today’s focus on religion is really just a variation on what has been a common theme throughout U.S. history. In 1800, Thomas Jefferson had to deal with accusations that he was an atheist; in the late 1800s, William Jennings Bryan invoked biblical themes to support economic policy; in 1928, Al Smith faced anti-Catholic mobs on the campaign...

  5. Part One The Big Picture

    • 2 How the Faithful Voted: Religious Communities and the Presidential Vote
      (pp. 15-36)
      John C. Green, Lyman A. Kellstedt, Corwin E. Smidt and James L. Guth

      It is widely recognized that religion played a major role in the 2004 presidential election and that recognition has enlivened the debate over the meaning of the election results, including the importance of “moral values,” the effect of religious mobilization, and the contribution of particular religious communities to the outcome.¹ It is on the latter point that there is perhaps the most confusion. How did the faithful vote? What role did they play in party coalitions? Did the patterns of electoral participation by religious groups in 2004 differ from the patterns of electoral participation by religious groups in previous elections?...

    • 3 Faithful Divides: Party Elites and Religion
      (pp. 37-62)
      John C. Green and John S. Jackson

      The results of the 2004 presidential campaign provoked an unusually strident debate about the impact of “moral values” on the outcome of the election and added fuel to the ongoing argument over the “culture war.”¹ Some scholars argue that the culture war is real and consequential, rooted in fundamental moral divisions that will soon dominate political discourse. In their view, the American public is deeply polarized, leaving little middle ground or room for compromise.² To these advocates, “moral values” had, as they expected, a great impact in 2004. However, other scholars argue that the culture war is much exaggerated. Cultural...

  6. Part Two The Moral Values Election?

    • 4 Moral Values: Media, Voters, and Candidate Strategy
      (pp. 65-79)
      D. Sunshine Hillygus

      The conventional wisdom about the 2004 presidential election is that the electorate voted on the basis of “moral values.”¹ Journalists and pundits largely concluded that Bush won reelection because his stance on moral issues, especially gay marriage and abortion, coincided more closely than that of Kerry with the views of the American public.² The LondonTimesreported that “Americans voted in record numbers for a Republican president primarily because they identified with his moral agenda.”³ Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, insisted that same-sex marriage was “the hood ornament on the family values wagon that carried the president...

    • 5 Evangelicals and Moral Values
      (pp. 80-92)
      Scott Keeter

      On election night 2004 and in its immediate aftermath, much discussion focused on the importance of “moral values” as a basis for voter choice in the presidential race. Analysts, political activists, and pundits noted with evident surprise that a plurality of 22 percent of voters responding to the Election-Day voter survey of the National Election Pool (NEP) chose moral values (from a list of seven items) in response to a question asking, “Whichoneissue mattered most in deciding how you voted for president?” Subsequent commentary on the race argued that the Democrats (and the news media) had failed to...

  7. Part Three Mobilizing the Faithful

    • 6 Microtargeting and the Instrumental Mobilization of Religious Conservatives
      (pp. 95-119)
      J. Quin Monson and J. Baxter Oliphant

      Previous chapters have shown that religious conservatives—evangelicals especially—were subject to intense mobilization efforts in 2004.¹ This chapter demonstrates the mechanics of this mobilization, specifically the method and messages that Republicans used to rally their religiously conservative base.

      One example provides a taste of how this was done. Consider the 2004 contest between former Senate minority leader Tom Daschle and John Thune, one of the most expensive and hotly contested races in the country. Within the context of South Dakota’s conservative and very religious culture, this high-stakes U.S. Senate race yielded some jarring examples of how religion is appropriated...

    • 7 The Case of Bush’s Reelection: Did Gay Marriage Do It?
      (pp. 120-141)
      David E. Campbell and J. Quin Monson

      In the case of George W. Bush’s reelection, did gay marriage do it? One storyline of the 2004 election, widely repeated in the immediate wake of the contest, went something like this: Bush returned to the White House because he capitalized on many voters’ concerns about moral values. Specifically, he rode a groundswell of opposition to same-sex marriage in those eleven states that held referenda on gay marriage simultaneously with the presidential election. Voters who otherwise would have stayed home on Election Day turned out to thwart gay marriage and, while at the polls, also cast a ballot for Bush....

    • 8 Stem Cell Research
      (pp. 142-160)
      Barbara Norrander and Jan Norrander

      At the 2004 Democratic convention, Ron Reagan, the son of the former president, took the podium to call for increased federal funding for stem cell research. Nancy Reagan also publicly supported stem cell research in the hope that some day this research could help to cure the Alzheimer’s disease that had stricken her husband. Meanwhile in California, Republican governor Arnold Schwarzenegger supported Proposition 71, which would provide $3 billion in state aid for stem cell research. Yet despite support from some prominent Republicans, President George W. Bush generally opposed stem cell research due to ethical concerns over the destruction of...

  8. Part Four Religious Constituencies

    • 9 The Changing Catholic Voter: Comparing Responses to John Kennedy in 1960 and John Kerry in 2004
      (pp. 163-179)
      J. Matthew Wilson

      When John Fitzgerald Kennedy received the Democratic nomination for president in 1960, there was palpable excitement among America’s Catholic community. Only one Catholic—Al Smith in 1928—had ever headed a major-party ticket, and his was a long-shot, ultimately unsuccessful candidacy on behalf of what was clearly the country’s minority party. Kennedy, however, was seen as a much more viable candidate from what had become (Eisenhower’s successes notwithstanding) the majority party in America. As such, he offered Catholic voters a real opportunity to see a fellow Catholic in the Oval Office. Catholic voters across the nation rallied to Kennedy’s cause...

    • 10 George W. Bush and the Evangelicals: Religious Commitment and Partisan Change among Evangelical Protestants, 1960–2004
      (pp. 180-198)
      Geoffrey C. Layman and Laura S. Hussey

      For more than two decades, students of American religion and politics have noted the political realignment of evangelical Protestants—those (mostly white) individuals holding, and belonging to churches espousing, traditionalist Protestant beliefs on matters such as the authority of Scripture, adult religious conversion, and the centrality of faith in Christ to salvation. Strongly Democratic throughout most of the post–New Deal period, since 1980 the most committed evangelicals have become the most loyal component of the Republican electoral coalition.¹

      Consistent with this transformation are the assessments, noted throughout this volume, that evangelicals were critical to George W. Bush’s 2004 reelection...

    • 11 Latinos and Religion
      (pp. 199-214)
      David L. Leal

      Recent presidential elections have seen a number of unusual controversies. For 2000 the most important dispute involved the “hanging chads” in Florida. In 2004, while the election outcome itself was resolved without undue difficulty, one debated postelection issue was the level of Latino support for George W. Bush and John F. Kerry. Along with this controversy came arguments about whether Latinos were increasingly “up for grabs” politically. There was also discussion about the possible basis for the hypothesized growth in Republican support from this traditionally Democratic constituency. This chapter discusses one possible explanation for Latino support for Bush in 2004:...

    • 12 The Black Church: Maintaining Old Coalitions
      (pp. 215-231)
      Eric L. McDaniel

      Based on media reports during the 2004 election, one might have thought the African American church was on the verge of a great transformation. The emergence of a black clergyman as a presidential candidate, George W. Bush’s continued courting of black clergy, and gay marriage presented a variety of opportunities for the black church to factor into the election. However, in retrospect, the activities of the black church and blacks in general appear to have been business as usual. While Al Sharpton’s presidential campaign may have sparked interest, blacks did not view him as having a real chance of winning....

    • 13 A Gentle Stream or a “River Glorious”? The Religious Left in the 2004 Election
      (pp. 232-256)
      Lyman A. Kellstedt, Corwin E. Smidt, John C. Green and James L. Guth

      In recent years, the “religious right” has often seemed like a raging torrent, moving voters to the polls. Not so the “religious left.” Certainly no credible observer would characterize the latter as a “raging torrent” in terms of its impact on voters. But is it at least a gentle stream? And could it grow into a “river glorious”?¹ This chapter attempts to answer these questions.

      When the religious right appeared in the late 1970s, it surprised many observers and, despite fluctuating assessments of its vitality, has become a fixture of national politics.² As a consequence, scholars know a great deal...

  9. Part Five Conclusion

    • 14 From Event to Theory: A Summary Analysis
      (pp. 259-274)
      David C. Leege

      American elections are grand-scale rituals of legitimation. Historically, all political systems have had to settle the question: Who has the right to rule over others? In the past, many monarchs were believed to rule by divine right. But by the later eighteenth century, the ideology of equality demanded a different rationale. When leadership status was no longer conferred by ancestry but by ballot, the people had to have a basis for determining trust. In the fledgling United States, as de Tocqueville pointed out, that became the function of religious discourse. Politicians quickly grasped that policy promises were insufficient without the...

  10. References
    (pp. 275-294)
  11. Contributors
    (pp. 295-296)
  12. Index
    (pp. 297-308)