Religious institutions and minor parties in the United States


Religious institutions and minor parties in the United States

Christopher P. Gilbert ... [et al.]

Praeger, 1999

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Includes bibliographical references (p. [161]-172) and index



Gilbert et al. examine the impact of churches and church membership patterns on third parties and independent candidates in 20th-century U.S. politics. Candidates who choose not to run for office under the rubric of a major party face a well-known set of obstacles, yet the absence of discussion about the interconnections between religious institutions and minor parties is striking. The book presents a theoretical framework for understanding how religious institutions create, support, and sustain the political culture of local communities; by playing this role religious institutions support major parties and impede the electoral chances of political outsiders. The book's central finding is that third candidates are not privy to the ties that bind Democratic and Republican voters to their parties; one of the factors that creates and strengthens such ties is religion. Therefore, third candidates do best where church and party loyalties are weakest, or where third candidates have existing bases of support. The rare third candidate or minor party that possesses a base of support centered around a denomination or religious group can overcome such barriers. These conclusions are supported by analysis of census data, election returns, and voter surveys spanning the 20th century. Special attention is given to the 1992 and 1996 presidential candidacies of H. Ross Perot. This is an important analysis for scholars and other researchers dealing with American third parties and independent candidates and the impact of religion on politics.


Preface A Theory of Religious Institutions and Minor Parties Data Sources and Initial Investigations Aggregate Minor Candidate Voting Patterns in Presidential Elections, 1912-1992 The Religious Dimensions of Minor Candidate Support: Voter Behavior in 1968, 1980, and 1992 Minor Candidates in 1994 U.S. Senate and Gubernatorial Elections Minor Candidates and Religious Factors in the 1996 Presidential Election Conclusions and Extensions Variable Coding Schemes Ecological Inference: Methods and Issues Bibliography Index

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