The Role of Religion in American Elections: Civic Engagement of Christians

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Corinne Straight-Reed


There are many reasons why eligible citizens in a democracy choose to vote or abstain from voting. Social scientists have known for decades that if a citizen is over age 35, has a college degree and is white, the likelihood he or she will vote in an upcoming election increases compared with those who are younger, without a college degree and non-white (Pew 2008). In addition to race, age, education, and other commonly examined demographics, religion is an important factor in shaping political decisions. Religious voters are called on to vote in accordance with their religious teachings each election cycle. However, is a religious citizen more likely to head to the polls than a non-religious citizen? This paper addresses this question using data from the 2014 General Social Survey (GSS). By looking at whether or not the respondent voted in the 2012 election, and whether or not the respondent identified as a Christian, the results determined that a Christian is more likely to cast a vote than a non-Christian.

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