Skip to main content Accessibility help
Hostname: page-component-7ccbd9845f-hcslb Total loading time: 0.478 Render date: 2023-01-29T10:24:44.181Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "useRatesEcommerce": false } hasContentIssue true

Cueing God: Religious Cues and Voter Support

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  13 February 2014

Bryan McLaughlin*
University of Wisconsin, Madison
David Wise
University of Wisconsin, Madison
Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Bryan McLaughlin, School of Journalism and Mass Communication, University of Wisconsin, Madison, 821 University Ave., 5115 Vilas Hall, Madison, WI 53706. E-mail:


Scholars contend that correctly applying religious cues is crucial to winning political elections. This article examines the effect of general religious cues by conducting an experiment on a national sample (N = 520). Through the use of a fictitious congressional candidate's webpage, we examine how subtle and overt religious cues interact with citizen religiosity to affect political evaluations. The findings demonstrate that politicians who use overt religious cues run the risk of alienating a large portion of potential voters. Religious cues do, however, appear to become more effective as citizens become more religious. We also find some evidence that overt religious cues are more polarizing than subtle religious cues. This article provides a foundation from which to more thoroughly consider how general religious cues can affect political outcomes and how these cues may interact with other factors.

Copyright © Religion and Politics Section of the American Political Science Association 2014 

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)



Albertson, Bethany. 2011. “Religious Appeals and Implicit Attitudes.” Political Psychology 32:109130.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bernisky, Adam, Huber, Gregory, and Lenz, Gabriel. 2012. “Evaluating Online Labor Markets for Experimental Research:'s Mechnical Turk.” Political Analysis 20:251368.Google Scholar
Bernisky, Adam, and Mendelberg, Tali. 2005. “The Indirect Effects of Discredited Stereotypes in Judgments of Jewish Leaders.” American Journal of Political Science 49:845864.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bolce, Louis, and De Maio, Gerald. 1999. “The Anti-Christian Fundamentalist Factor in Contemporary Politics.” The Public Opinion Quarterly 63:508542.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Braman, Eileen, and Sinno, Addulkader. 2009. “An Experimental Investigation of Causal Attributions for the Political Behavior of Muslim Candidates: Can a Muslim Represent You?Politics and Religion 2:247276.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Buhrmester, Muhrmester, Kwang, Tracy, and Gosling, Samuel. 2011. “Amazon's Mechanical Turk: A New Source of Inexpensive, Yet High-Quality, Data.” Perspectives on Psychological Science 6:35.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Calfano, Brian R., and Djupe, Paul A.. 2009. “God Talk: Religious Cues and Electoral Support.” Political Research Quarterly 62:329339.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Calfano, Brian R., and Djupe, Paul A.. 2011. “Not In His Image: The Moderating Effect of Gender on Religious Appeals.” Politics and Religion 4:338354.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Campbell, David, Green, John, and Layman, Geoffrey. 2011. “The Party Faithful: Partisan Images, Candidate Religion, and the Electoral Impact of Party Identification.” American Journal of Political Science 55:4258.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
DiMaggio, Paul, Evans, John, and Bryson, Bethany. 1996. “Have American's Social Attitudes Become More Polarized?American Journal of Sociology 102:690755.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Djupe, Paul A., and Calfano, Brian R.. 2009. “Justification Not by Faith Alone: Clergy Generating Trust And Certainty by Revealing Thought.” Politics and Religions 2:130.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Djupe, Paul A., and Gwiasda, Gregory W.. 2010. “Evangelizing the Environment: Decision Process Effects in Political Persuasion.” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 49:7386.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Domke, David, and Coe, Kevin. 2008. The God Strategy: How Religion Became a Political Weapon in America. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Gibson, Harry, and Francis, Leslie. 1996. “Measuring Christian Fundamentalist Belief among 11–15 Year Old Adolescents in Scotland.” In Research in Religious Education, eds. Francis, L.J. & Campbell, W.S.. Leominster: Fowler Wright, 249255.Google Scholar
Guth, James, Kellstedt, Lyman, Smidt, Corwin, and Green, John. 2006. “Religious Influences in the 2004 Presidential Election.” Presidential Studies Quarterly 36:223242.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Hunter, James Davidson. 1991. Culture Wars: The Struggle to Control The Family, Art, Education, Law and Politics in America. New York, NY: Basic Books.Google Scholar
Lambert, F. 2008. Religion in American Politics. New Jersey, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
Layman, Geoffrey, and Carmines, Edward. 1997. “Cultural Conflict in American Politics: Religious Traditionalism, Postmaterialism, and U.S. Political Behavior.” The Journal of Politics 59:751777.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Mason, Winter, and Suri, Siddharth. 2011. “Conducting Behavioral Research on Amazon's Mechanical Turk.” Behavior Research methods 44:123.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
McDermott, Monika. 1998. “Race and Gender Cues in Low-Information Elections.” Political Research Quarterly 51:895918.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
McDermott, Monika. 2007. “Voting for Catholic Candidates: The Evolution of a Stereotype.” Social Science Quarterly 88:953969.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
McDermott, Monika. 2009. “Religious Stereotyping and Voter Support for Evangelical Candidates.” Political Research Quarterly 62:340354.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
McTague, John Michael, and Layman, Geoffery. 2009. “Religion, Parties, and Voting Behavior: A Political Explanation for Religious Influence.” In The Oxford Handbook of Religion and American Politics, eds. Smidt, Corwin, Kellstedt, Lyman, and Guth, James. New York, NY: Oxford university press, 330370.Google Scholar
Paolacci, Gabriele, Changler, Jesse, and Ipeirotis, Panagiotis. 2010. “Running Experiments on Amazon's Mechanical Turk.” Judgment and Decision Making 5:411419.Google Scholar
Pew. 2012. Forum on Religion and Public Life. Google Scholar
Pieper, Andrew. 2011. “Flouting Faith? Religious Hostility and the American Left, 1977–2000.” American Politics Research 39:754778.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Popkin, Samuel. 1991. The Reasoning Voter: Communication and Persuasion in Presidential Campaigns. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
Putnam, Robert, and Campbell, David. 2010. American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us. New York, NY. Simon & Schuster.Google Scholar
Sheets, Penelope, Domke, David, and Greenwald, Anthony. 2011. “God and Country: The Partisan Psychology of the Presidency, Religion, and Nation.” Political Psychology 32:459484.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Stark, Rodney, and Finke, Roger. 2000. Acts of Faith: Explaining the Human Side of Religion. Los Angles, CA: University of California Press.Google Scholar
Valentino, Nicholas. 1999. “Crime News and the Priming of Racial Attitudes during Evaluations of the President.” Public Opinion Quarterly 63:293320.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Wald, Kenneth, and Calhoun-Brown, Allison. 2011. Religion and Politics in the United States. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers.Google Scholar
Weaver, Velsa. 2012. “The Electoral Consequences of Skin Color: The “Hidden” Side of Race in Politics.” Political Behavior 34:159192.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Weber, Christopher, and Thornton, Matt. 2012. “Courting Christians: How Political Candidates Prime Religious Considerations in Campaign Ads.” The Journal of Politics 74:400413.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Wuthnow, Robert. 1998. The Restructuring of American Religion. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
Cited by

Save article to Kindle

To save this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Cueing God: Religious Cues and Voter Support
Available formats

Save article to Dropbox

To save this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Dropbox account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Cueing God: Religious Cues and Voter Support
Available formats

Save article to Google Drive

To save this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Google Drive account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Cueing God: Religious Cues and Voter Support
Available formats

Reply to: Submit a response

Please enter your response.

Your details

Please enter a valid email address.

Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *