Red Faith Blue Faith

Religion's Role in this Century's Presidential Elections

Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite and Sally Steenland examine the increasingly progressive preferences of religious voters.

The past eight years have seen a dramatic transformation in the relationship between religion and politics. The watershed year was 2004, when the “God gap” is said to have reached its peak. In that year, post-election pollsters claimed that a significant majority of religious voters voted for politically conservative candidates rather than candidates who were progressive or liberal.

In fact, the “God gap” was somewhat of a mischaracterization. The truth is the gap resulted in part from exit-poll questions that limited “values” questions to a few wedge issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage, rather than including other values choices such as poverty, the environment, and the Iraq war. Subsequent polling by Zogby, which did present a more expansive list of “values” issues, showed that religious voters were more culturally and politically diverse than the headlines claimed.

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Rev. Dr. Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite

Sally Steenland

Former Director, Faith and Progressive Policy Initiative