Mtg Follow-Up: Fundamentalists’ Strength In US Politics

Does anybody have anything they want to add to last night’s discussion on fundamentalism?  Thanks to Steve for explaining the movement(s)’ origins, and to the 14 of us who participated.  I want to follow-up briefly on one thing: The influence of evangelicals and fundamentalists on today’s Republican Party.  As I mentioned, there is evidence that the 1970s-80s wave of conservative evangelical participartion in politics has peaked in absolute terms.  However, as I said, their influence in the GOP has now been institutionalized.  They are a major – and maybe the most reliable, in terms of voter turnout and other forms of participation – wing of the party.

As for the Tea Parties, don’t be fooled.  Over one-half of self-described Tea Partyers say they they are members of the Christian Right.  That’s a big reason why GOP-controlled state legislatuers have focused so relentlessly on restricting abortion and contraception access and defunding planned Parenthood.  It’s a Tea Party top priority just as muuch as cutting taxes is.

Evangelicals’ influence over the contest to choose a GOP presidential nominee will be massive.  As this map shows, evangelical voters comprise:

  • 60% of GOP voters in Iowa and South Carolina – both key early presidential primary states.  The same for Texas, the largest Red state.
  • 50% in Virginia and 44% in Ohio – both crucial swing states.
  • Between 35% and 40% in CA (35%), Wisconsin, Michigan, and Florida.
  • More than 70% in many southern states – the geographic core and ideological heart of the GOP now and for the foreseeable future.

I have always thought, unlike many liberals, that the influence of Christian conservatives on the Republican Party has been overstated.  I thought the Christian Right made more smoke than fire.  I’m beginning to wonder if I was wrong.   Maybe I focused too much on their leaders and not enough on their growing numbers.  Their sheer numbers have made them a force to be reckoned with.  Your thoughts?

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