Monday, April 21, 2008

COUNTER-INTUITIVE NEWS: IT'S NOT THE POOR WHO VOTE THEIR FAITH

VOXEU Barack Obama recently postulated that frustrated poor people vote based on cultural and religious values. But the data say exactly the opposite - value voting is a high-income activity. . .

Regular churchgoers are about 15% more likely than non-attendees to vote Republican. Perhaps surprisingly, this big religion gap did not show up until 1992, when Bill Clinton ran against George H. W. Bush. Back in 1980, Jerry Falwell’s Moral Majority and other Religious Right organizations played a prominent role in rallying support for Ronald Reagan and other Republican candidates. But the gap between religious and non-religious in voting was actually less for Ronald Reagan-in both 1980 and 1984-than for Gerald Ford in 1976. . .

Nothing much was happening until 1992, when all of a sudden George H. W. Bush received 20% more of the vote among religious than among the nonreligious. . .

The difference in Republican support, comparing regular religious attendees to non-attendees, is huge for rich voters but low among the poor; This result-that church attendance predicts voting more for the rich than the poor-is consistent with the finding of Ansolabehere, Rodden, and Snyder that "low-income Americans are significantly less inclined to vote based on moral values than are high-income groups." They find the impact of economic issues on voting is larger for regular churchgoers, residents of Republican-leaning states, and rural voters than for non-churchgoers, residents of Democratic states, and urban or suburban voters.

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