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Friday, July 16, 2004

Looking for swing voters this weekend?

A lot of people have made a lot of noise this year about the "religion gap" among American voters. The super-short version is that the more religious you are, the more likely you are to vote for Bush. Wouldn't you love to hear something new about what the religion gap really reveals?

Writing in one of my very favorite publications, Trinity College's Religion in the News, John Green and Mark Silk noticed that the gender gap — the shift of women voters away from the Republican Party beginning with the 1964 election — shows some striking parallels to the religion gap. They started combing through the polling data for an explanation, and found something very interesting in the Bush-Gore election results:

Three-quarters of regular [church-]attending men voted for Bush, while three-quarters of the less attending women voted for Gore. Just as fascinating are the two groups in the middle. The regular attending women and less attending men divided their votes almost evenly between Bush and Gore.

Each category represented a hefty slice of the electorate in the 2000 election. The Bush-backing regular attending men made up 21 percent of voters, while the Gore-supporting less attending women were 24 percent. The evenly divided categories were somewhat larger, with less attending men at 26 percent and regular attending women—the plurality group—at 28 percent. Given how narrowly divided the electorate now appears to be, a small swing in just one of these large groups could determine the outcome of the 2004 election.

The generalization: Women who go to church regularly are swing voters; men who go to church regularly are solid Republicans. Women who don't go to church regularly are solid Democrats; men who don't go to church regularly are swing voters.

Green and Silk conclude:

Because value conflicts create swing voters, regular attending white Catholic and mainline Protestant women and less attending white Catholic and evangelical men are likely to be up for grabs in 2004. Journalists interested in gauging how well the respective campaigns are doing with these swing groups might try interviewing at a few selected locations between, say, 10 o’clock and 12:30 on Sunday mornings.

Check out The Home Depot and the local links, where many Catholic and evangelical men are rumored to be found bright and early on the Lord’s Day. If these weekend warriors like Kerry, look for a new administration in 2005.

Then buttonhole women coming out of worship at Catholic and mainline Protestant churches. If these church ladies are tilting toward Bush, then the president will likely get a new lease on the White House.

("Gendering the religion gap," John Green and Mark Silk, Religion in the News Spring 2004)

Copyright © 2004 by Philocrites | Posted 16 July 2004 at 5:42 PM

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July 16, 2004 11:36 PM | Permalink for this comment

Hey, this summer I'm a swing voter!

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