RAW DATA….I’m reading The Truth About Conservative Christians, by Andrew Greeley and Michael Hout, which is, by a good measure, the worst and most frustratingly-written book I’ve read in a long while. It’s a sociological picture of conservative Christians based on statistical analysis of recent survey data, but for some reason the authors decided to keep tables and charts to a minimum in favor of tossing most of their numbers directly into the text. Since tables and charts are actually the least confusing way of presenting numerical data, this makes the book a real slog.
Still, there are some tables and even a few charts, and here’s one of them. It shows voting patterns by religion and income, and Greeley and Hout present it as evidence that, in fact, class is still far more important than religion in America, despite the culture wars of the past couple of decades. It’s true that conservative (white) Protestants vote for Republicans in greater numbers than other denominations, but their voting patterns are actually more sensitive to income than other groups. Among high-income CPs, about 70% vote Republican, a number that drops in half among the lowest-income group. This is a switch of nearly 35 percentage points, far larger than any other group.
I don’t really have anywhere to go with this. I just thought it was interesting raw data. However, it does suggest that while Democrats probably don’t have much chance of peeling off votes from higher-income evangelicals, they might have surprisingly good luck at using a primarily economic message to win votes from middle-income evangelicals, culture war or no. Food for thought.