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A Matter of Faith

Religion in the 2004 Presidential Election

Edited by David E. Campbell

Publication Year: 2007

"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).

Published by: Brookings Institution Press

Cover Page

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Title Page

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Copyright Page

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Table of Contents

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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii

The chapters here, for the most part, were initially presented as papers at a conference sponsored by the University of Notre Dame’s Program in American Democracy in December 2005 and generously supported by the Annenberg Foundation. I am indebted to Christina Wolbrecht, director of the Program in American Democracy, for her assistance in bringing this conference about. Both her organizational...

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Chapter 1: The 2004 Election: A Matter of Faith?

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pp. 1-12

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...

Part I: The Big Picture

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pp. 13

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Chapter 2: How the Faithful Voted: Religious Communities and the Presidential Vote

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pp. 15-36

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...

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Chapter 3: Faithful Divides: Party Elites and Religion

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pp. 37-62

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...

Part II: The Moral Values Election?

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pp. 63

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Chapter 4: Moral Values: Media, Voters, and Candidate Strategy

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pp. 65-79

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 London Times reported that “Americans voted in...

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Chapter 5: Evangelicals and Moral Values

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pp. 80-92

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...

Part III: Mobilizing the Faithful

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pp. 93

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Chapter 6: Microtargeting and the Instrumental Mobilization of Religious Conservatives

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pp. 95-119

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 in...

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Chapter 7: The Case of Bush's Reelection: Did Gay Marriage Do It?

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pp. 120-141

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...

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Chapter 8: Stem Cell Research

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pp. 142-159

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...

Part IV: Religious Constituencies

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pp. 161

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Chapter 9: The Changing Catholic Voter: Comparing Responses to John Kennedy in 1960 and John Kerry in 2004

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pp. 163-179

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...

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Chapter 10: George W. Bush and the Evangelicals: Religious Commitment and Partisan Change among Evangelical Protestants, 1960–2004

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pp. 180-198

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...

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Chapter 11: Latinos and Religion

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pp. 199-214

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...

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Chapter 12: The Black Church: Maintaining Old Coalitions

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pp. 215-231

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...

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Chapter 13: A Gentle Stream or a "River Glorious"? The Religious Left in the 2004 Election

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pp. 232-256

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...

Part V: Conclusion

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pp. 257

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Chapter 14: From Event to Theory: A Summary Analysis

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pp. 259-274

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...


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pp. 275-294


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pp. 295-296


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pp. 297-308

E-ISBN-13: 9780815713296
E-ISBN-10: 0815713290
Print-ISBN-13: 9780815713272
Print-ISBN-10: 0815713274

Page Count: 319
Publication Year: 2007