Mark A. Smith is professor of Political Science and an adjunct professor of Comparative Religion and Communication at the University of Washington. His research focuses on economic and religious groups, ideas, and influences in American politics. In his new book, Secular Faith: How Culture Has Trumped Religion in American Politics, Dr. Smith argues that religion is not nearly the unchanging conservative influence in American politics that we have come to think it is and is best understood as responding to changing political and cultural values rather than shaping them.
At the first presidential debate, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney will both need to overcome two commonly held stereotypes if they want to successfully appeal to white working-class voters. In this week’s article for “Figuring Faith,” Dr. Robert P. Jones outlines this significant challenge:
Fresh from their tours of Ohio and Colorado, both Romney and Obama have their work cut out for them in battleground states with this group, which constitutes more than one-third (36 percent) of all Americans. Specifically, they will need to sidestep two common stereotypes about white working-class Americans. Both Obama and Romney would do well to avoid these prevailing myths, not just because it is bad politics, but also because these stereotypes are not true.
To read the full article, head to Dr. Jones’ Washington Post blog, “Figuring Faith.”