Religion and the 2004 Election

A Special Supplement to Religion in the News
Fall 2003


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Table of Contents

Special Section: Introduction

The New Religion Gap

Hispanic Catholics

Non-Hispanic Catholics

Evangelicals Inside the Beltway

Evangelicals Outside the Beltway

Mainline Protestants

African American Protestants


Arab Americans: Muslims and Others


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Religion is often a critical factor in American elections, but its salience varies from place to place and election to election. For 2004, it’s already clear that on issues ranging from abortion and faith-based social services to the Middle East and the war on terrorism, candidates and interest groups will be attempting to appeal to voters on the basis of their religious commitments.

In September, to help journalists understand current trends and possibilities as they prepare to cover the 2004 campaign, the Leonard E. Greenberg Center and the Ray C. Bliss Institute of Applied Politics at the University of Akron sponsored a Conference on Religion in the 2004 Election. Leading scholars made presentations on the politics of key religious constituencies: how they vote, how they are being mobilized, and how best to cover them.

The special section that follows presents highlights of those talks. The section opens with an overview of religion and voting patterns by John Green of the Bliss Institute and Mark Silk of the Greenberg Center that proposes a useful new measure of religion’s impact on American politics. A series of election exit polls and opinion surveys now suggests a new and significant pattern in American public life: Those citizens who are highly observant and those who are less so—across denominational and religious borders—are drifting into different political camps. In particular, over the past decade, Americans who attend worship at least once a week have increasingly tended to vote Republican. Tracking this "Religion Gap," Green and Silk propose, provides important insight into today's electoral politics.

The section then moves to a set of briefings that analyze the political traditions and tensions that characterize eight major religious groups. Each is written by a scholar who has produced distinguished work on the group and who continues to follow it closely.