The Culture War — Religion as a Voting Indicator

Written by Firas Suqi ’14

So far, the focus of our lectures has been on the specific stances each party holds in regards to issues of the economy or the environment. This week, Professor Duane Oldfield discussed the demographics of voters during the presidential election of 2008, providing us with the statistical breakdown of each party by religion.

Duane Oldfield

This topic was particularly interesting because religion can be seen as a reliable indicator in predicting how one may vote, especially with both candidates take firm stances on hot-button issues such as gay marriage and abortion.

The statistical figures shown to the class demonstrated the evangelical and Protestant churches’ support for the Republican Party, as well as the non-believers’ and Jewish support for the Democratic Party.

Within these alliances there was some divide, though. White Catholics seemed to prefer Republican candidates, whereas Hispanic Catholics tended to vote for the Democratic candidate. Black Protestants also strayed from the general trend of siding with the Republican Party, with over 95% voting for Barack Obama in the 2008 election.

One group that has gained considerable influence in the Republican platform is that of the Christian Right. Professor Oldfield suggested that the increased presence of the Christian Right is part of what he coined “The Culture War” between the theologically conservative and the theologically secular. The rise of social movements in the 20th century has led each party to adopt a stance on the social issues of abortion and homosexuality.

Religion (or a lack of religion) plays a large role in determining an individual’s values and how he or she will vote. It will be interesting to see the breakdown of voters for the 2012 election, and find out where the majority of America’s values lie.

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