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?