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Social Movements and Party Politics: The Case of the Christian Right

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This paper explores the uneasy relationship between social movements and major political parties by considering the case of the Christian Right and the Republican Party in the 1994 elections. We look at four states where the movement was active in party politics and where Republican electoral fortunes varied from failure to success. We found that the degree of intraparty division generated by the Christian Right seemed to hurt Republicans at the polls, but the level of movement activity in itself apparently helped the Republicans. Most factors associated with support for the Christian Right did not help account for electoral outcomes across the states. Instead, the accessibility of the political party nomination processes to the movement best accounted for the election results: greater party openness was associated with poor results and more limited access with greater success for the GOP.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: University of Akron, Akron, Ohio 44325., Email: 2: Catholic University of America, Washington, DC 20064., Email: 3: Georgetown University, Washington, DC 20057., Email:

Publication date: September 1, 2001

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