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Religion and politics poll

Here’s the latest Pew poll (pdf form here; the questionnaire is here), focusing on the religion of the candidates and of the respondents.

Note that the presumptive frontrunners from New York are regarded as the least religious of the major candidates (the respondents are probably correct about RG, but not about HRC, who is a garden-variety liberal Methodist). Of course, those who are more suspicious of her religiosity are disinclined to like her on any ground; they just can’t believe that she’s got faith in anything other than herself. The report’s authors note that religiosity has a positive valence: those who regard a candidate as religious tend to like that candidate. But that may get the order of causality wrong; at least for a certain proportion of the people, the affection precedes the ascription of religiosity. In other words, for many people the candidate’s religiosity isn’t the first thing they look for, and they don’t look too closely in any event.

Allow me to draw a conclusion about this for HRC: emphasizing her religiosity isn’t going to help her with the faith-based anybody-but-Hillary crowd. With others, if she can overcome the challenge of likeability, she doesn’t need to stress religion; if they come to like her, they’ll by and large think of her as "religious enough."

It’s also noteworthy that in August 2007, more people perceive the Democrats as unfriendly to religion than in August 2004, when John Kerry was displaying his incredible ineptitude at appealing to religious voters. The concerted efforts to portray the party as "faith-friendly" don’t appear to be working very well.

But I’m not convinced that they matter all that much, since Iraq and the economy are the dominant issues. And while there are distinctive "religious" voices on all sides of those issues, I don’t think that they are the loudest and most influential. As a result, religion may well "mean less" in 2008 than it has in recent elections. Whether this will be the "new norm" or an aberration remains, of course, to be seen.

Discussions - 2 Comments

The problem with the Democrats was never that they lacked demonstrable faith. The problem was always that they were perceived as anti-faith.

So, if they just display genuine respect and tolerance of those of faith, they don't need to have or display faith themselves.

Acadamia and politics is another interesting nexus.

Some interesting details here.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the New School, which has a liberal tradition and a reputation for left-leaning faculty and a former political official as president, has a board sprinkled with politically active trustees.

They include Leo Hindery, a New York media executive and a leading fund-raiser for John Edwards who has given nearly $270,000 to Democratic candidates and committees since the 2004 election cycle. Another trustee, Cheryl Cohen Effron, along with her husband, Blair, an investment banker, has donated about $330,000 to the Democratic Party over the same time period.

And it goes on. For "politically active", read "politically active for the Democratic Party." It's remarkable the extent to which Democrats are able to transform various non-political entities into arms of their political movement, and it's remakable how little this phenomena is remarked on.

If the board of some university which received federal funds was filled with former Republican politicians and GOP political donors, and the school had the aim of advancing an explicitly conservative agenda, I'm sure that Congress and the media would award them some skeptical or even hostile attention.

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