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On the Prospect of Linking Religious-Right Identification with Political Behavior: Panacea or Snipe Hunt?

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Although it is a popular topic, the religious right is understudied in two areas. First, scholars have not developed an agreed-upon profile of religious-right adherents at the individual level. Second, little is known about how religious-right status functions as a predictor of political behavior. There is a possibility that religious-right status functions similarly to party identification, as an indicator that is both related to a wide range of variables and capable of functioning independently of those variables as a predictor of political behavior. Using multivariate statistical techniques we analyze survey data that allows respondents to self-identify as members of the religious right. We find that religious-right identifiers are social and theological conservatives who demonstrate high levels of religious commitment. However, they are neither monolithically Republican nor ideologically conservative. Religious-right status does have cross-cutting characteristics, for it is fluid across partisan, ideological, and denominational lines. This status is not, however, politically distinguishing as whatever impact it has on political behavior is apparently subsumed by traditional political variables.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: University of Georgia, Department of Political Science 2: Department of Political Science, Calvin College

Publication date: December 1, 2002

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