September 4, 2004

· Sociology

Berkeley’s Mike Hout and my colleague Fr Andrew Greeley have an Op-Ed in the Times today making some good points about the Republican Party’s support amongst Evangelical Christians. Religious and political conservatism don’t line up as closely as you might think, and certainly not as much as the talking heads assume. The intervening factor is how much money you make:

[N]either region nor religion can override the class divide: if recent patterns hold, a majority (about 52 percent) of poor Southern white evangelicals will vote for Mr. Kerry in November, while only 12 percent of affluent Southern white evangelicals will.

Most poorer Americans of every faith – including evangelical Christians – vote for Democrats. It’s a shame that few pundits, pollsters or politicians seem to notice.

A related point is that the swing to the Republican in the South has not not been a uniform migration. More of the better off have drifted, but not necessarily the poorer Whites. Of course, the claim isn’t that all poorer White Evangelicals vote Democrat—Brayden can testify to that—but rather that a surprisingly large number do, even after the universally acknowledged success of the Southern Strategy and the long-running tactic (going back to Reagan) of appealing to the Patriotism of poorer Americans in an effort to make them forget about their pocketbooks.

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I am Associate Professor of Sociology at Duke University. I’m affiliated with the Kenan Institute for Ethics, the Markets and Management Studies program, and the Duke Network Analysis Center.



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