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Dog Whistle Politics

Hat tip to PolticalWire for this...This same Business week article cites a study that "looks at voting patterns in U.S. Presidential elections from 1972 to 2000. For any given gender, age, race, and income level, a person who attends church at least monthly is 10 percentage points more likely to vote Republican."

Hmmm. But the study goes on to show how this seems not to be related to Democratic party policy, but based in part on personality. Perhaps based on how many of our candidates were percieved as being uncomfortable or unsupportive of religion. But when we did field a candidate that bucked that trend, the Republican advantage disappeared:

"But this relationship has changed over time. Because Democratic candidate Jimmy Carter in 1976 and 1980 was perceived as strongly religious, churchgoing had only a small impact on Republican support. "

Lastly the article goes on to use a great phrase that I'll let it define: "dog whistle" politics:

"A Business Week piece by Robert Barro looks at a new study explaining why religion and politics "are so intertwined." With religion, politicians can easily cater to people with extreme positions -- "such as the ardently pro-life views of the Religious Right or the ardently pro-choice views of the secular left" -- but do so in a way that is still somewhat private.

In the recent British election campaign, this was termed dog whistle politics, 'a high-pitched political message that excites a receptive audience but is unintelligible to the rest of us.'

Used successfully, this strategy delivers a big response by the targeted group, in voter turnout or campaign contributions, but doesn't trigger a negative response by the group on the other side of the issue. 'One might have thought that the Internet's free flow of information would crimp the ability to keep messages private. The reality is that evangelicals do not want to read Web sites aimed at atheists, and vice versa. So, the political cleavages based on religious differences are likely to be a permanent feature of American and international politics.'"
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