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alieNATION

The Divide & Conquer Election of 2012

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Edited By Dianne G. Bystrom, Mary C. Banwart and Mitchell S. McKinney

alieNATION presents research conducted by a national election team and leading scholars in political communication that explores a range of important topics and variables affecting voter attitudes and behavior in the 2012 U.S. presidential election.
In exploring the messages, issues, and voters of the 2012 election, these studies employ multiple methods including experimental design, content analysis, rhetorical criticism, and survey research. Whereas other election research tends to investigate either the content or effects of campaign communication, the more comprehensive and systematic nature of this collection enables alieNATION to cohere thematically around considerations of voter alienation, political engagement, political efficacy, and ultimately, citizens’ voting decisions.
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Chapter Fifteen: Altar Calls: Religious Segmentation in Campaign Appeals

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BRIAN T. KAYLOR

Civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., a Baptist minister, popularized a critique of U.S. churches for enacting segregation. Speaking at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., just days before his assassination, King proclaimed, “We must face the sad fact that at eleven o’clock on Sunday morning when we stand to sing ‘In Christ There is no East or West,’ we stand in the most segregated hour of America” (King, 1968, para. 16). Fifty years later, his words likely still ring true. Yet, since that time, houses of worship across the land have shifted to create another form of segmentation. When King preached, Americans mostly divided by denominational lines when they entered the ballot boxes. Those attending Catholic and evangelical Protestant churches generally punched their ballots for the Democratic candidates, while those occupying pews in mainline Protestant churches typically favored the Republicans.

Within a few years of King’s death, these denominational voting trends started dissipating with voting trends more likely to be seen on matters of church attendance or other religious behaviors (Putnam & Campbell, 2010). Within many denominations and religious traditions, conservative and liberal congregations emerged with parishioners more likely to change their church and religion than change their politics (Putnam & Campbell, 2010). Segregated by race, income, culture, geography, and even—if not especially—politics, houses of worship mirror—and perhaps magnify—the nation’s polarized and divided electorate.

← 277 | 278 → In recent...

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