God's Economy?: Experimental Effects of Religious Messaging on Catholic, Evangelical and Non-Religious Voters
35 Pages Posted: 15 Jul 2012 Last revised: 5 Sep 2012
Date Written: 2012
Are progressive religious messages on economic policies relevant to American voters? If such messages are relevant, can they persuade religious voters to support progressive causes? And what impact could such relevance and persuasion have on partisan politics? In the fall of 2011, two Ohio ballot measures on economic issues (public employee collective bargaining and health care) offered an opportunity to investigate these questions. Early in the ballot campaigns, we conducted a set of experiments embedded within a telephone survey to test the impact of progressive religious messages on white Evangelical, white Catholic, and unaffiliated voters. We find a positive impact of progressive religious messaging on both ballot measures. The impact was more consistent among white Evangelicals, where evidence for the relevance of religious messages was strong, but evidence of persuasion was weaker. The impact was less consistent among white Catholics, with no evidence for the relevance of religious messages, but stronger evidence for persuasion. In both religious traditions, important differences occurred with regard to frequency of worship attendance, and to a lesser extent, partisanship. At the same time, there is no evidence for a negative reaction to progressive religious messages unaffiliated voters.
Keywords: Catholic, Evangelical, Survey Experiment, Affordable Care Act, Senate Bill 5
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