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Godless Democrats and Pious Republicans?
Party Activists, Party Capture, and the 'God Gap'

$32.99 (G)

Part of Cambridge Studies in Social Theory, Religion and Politics

  • Date Published: June 2015
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107459267

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About the Authors
  • Do Evangelical activists control the Republican Party? Do secular activists control the Democratic Party? In Godless Democrats and Pious Republicans?, Ryan Claassen carefully assesses the way campaign activists represent religious and non-religious groups in American political parties dating back to the 1960s. By providing a new theoretical framework for investigating the connections between macro social and political trends, the results challenge a conventional wisdom in which recently mobilized religious and Secular extremists captured the parties and created a God gap. The new approach reveals that very basic social and demographic trends matter far more than previously recognized and that mobilization matters far less. The God gap in voting is real, but it was not created by Christian Right mobilization efforts and a Secular backlash. Where others see culture wars and captured parties, Claassen finds many religious divisions in American politics are artifacts of basic social changes. This very basic insight leads to many profoundly different conclusions about the motivations of religious and non-religious activists and voters.

    • Challenges a controversial but dominant way of thinking about recent religious and political trends
    • Provides a new theoretical model for understanding longitudinal change in groups of campaign activists and generates new insights into the causal mechanism behind recent religious and political trends
    • Includes comprehensive analyses and discussions of basic population trends, turnout trends, vote choice trends and campaign activism trends within the major American religious traditions that span a long period of time (1960–2008)
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    Reviews & endorsements

    "This thoughtful and empirically detailed study of religion and party activism takes us miles beyond simplistic commentaries about godly Republicans and godless Democrats."
    Morris P. Fiorina, Stanford University, California

    "Ryan Claassen's Godless Democrats and Pious Republicans? makes a major contribution to increasing our understanding of how religious divisions impact American party politics specifically and American society more generally. Rejecting oversimplified notions of party capture and mobilization, Claassen provides a nuanced and comprehensive account of how religion and politics have interacted during the last half century. It will force scholars to reconsider conventional thinking on this important topic."
    Edward G. Carmines, Indiana University, Bloomington

    "By exploring the social roots of secularization in the American electorate, Claassen provides fresh and original insights into the role and origins of religious divides in US party politics. This account deserves to be read by scholars of contemporary American elections and voting behavior, parties, and religion, while the broader lessons also shed light on the connections between religiosity and party politics elsewhere in the world."
    Pippa Norris, Harvard University, Massachusetts and the University of Sydney

    'In sum, Godless Democrats and Pious Republicans? is a valuable contribution in its own right, and represents a potentially important contribution to a long-running theoretical conversation in political science. For those of us who still take seriously the notion of 'scientific progress' in the social sciences, Claassen’s effort merits our careful attention."
    Ted G. Jelen, Perspectives on Politics

    "Ryan Claassen wants to root out this mythology of the God gap and debunk conspiratorial explanations of its origins … Claassen finds convincing support for the representation-based approach, rather than the group mobilization perspective."
    James L. Guth, The Christian Century

    "Although many studies support the observation of an increasing religious divide, Claassen is the first to question whether the change is due to disproportionate mobilization … Students of religion and politics will be well advised to address the issues his fine monograph raises … Highly recommended."
    T. Marchant-Shapiro, Choice

    "Ryan Claassen's Godless Democrats and Pious Republicans? is a consequential work that serves as an important corrective to the overly simplistic understandings of religion and politics that many of us have accepted over the years … This is a book that should be on the shelf of every scholar of religion and politics. Moreover, it ought to be in our hands being devoured and digested."
    Brad Lockerbie, Public Opinion Quarterly

    'This book is a well-written and well-researched cautionary tale against taking the easy way out in analyzing religion and its role in American politics.' Paul Helmke, Contemporary Sociology

    'Godless Democrats and Pious Republicans? is an important book that deserves to be read closely by scholars of religion and politics, parties, and voting behavior.' Stephen T. Mockabee, Politics and Religion

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    Product details

    • Date Published: June 2015
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107459267
    • length: 208 pages
    • dimensions: 228 x 152 x 12 mm
    • weight: 0.29kg
    • contains: 16 b/w illus. 33 tables
    • availability: In stock
  • Table of Contents

    Introduction
    1. The religious divide in American politics
    2. Mobilization, capture, and misunderstood trends
    3. Representation and four forces that shape change among activists
    4. First force, the effect of being fruitful and multiplying
    5. Second force, the effect of voting early and often
    6. Third force, the effect of picking a side
    7. Fourth force, the effect of writing checks and knocking on doors
    8. 'Capture' revisited, representation, and religious activists
    9. Conclusion.

  • Author

    Ryan L. Claassen, Kent State University, Ohio
    Ryan L. Claassen is Associate Professor of Political Science at Kent State University. His research investigates political engagement – especially the role of engagement shaping the capacity of individuals and groups of individuals in the American public to effectively contribute to public opinion and compete democratically. His work has appeared in American Politics Research, the Journal of Politics, Political Behavior, Political Research Quarterly, and Public Opinion Quarterly.

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