Dr. Melissa Deckman is a Professor of Political Science at Washington College and a PRRI Affiliated Scholar. Her research interests center on the intersection of religion, women, and politics. She has written in the past about the Christian Right’s participation in school board politics. Her most recent work is as co-editor and contributor to Curriculum and the Culture Wars: Debating the Bible’s Place in Public Schools. PRRI sat down with Dr. Deckman to discuss the significance of the book.
Where is religion in the 2012 election? At NPR, I, along with Dr. David Gushee, a PRRI Board member, and Dr. Mark Rozell, a PRRI Affiliated Scholar, offer some insight into why religion has disappeared as a central theme of both candidates’ campaigns.
Mitt Romney currently needs to appeal to voters in the middle, which requires less overtly religious language than earlier in the campaign, when Romney was courting evangelical voters in an attempt to win the nomination. As I pointed out, religious language hasn’t always helped Romney, who allied himself with the Catholic bishops in their struggle against the contraception mandate. This doesn’t appear to have swung Catholics toward Romney – in fact, the opposite is true. According to NPR reporter Barbara Bradley Hagerty:
Jones’ polls show that Romney has seen his 20-point lead among white Catholics — critical swing voters — completely disappear. There are a lot of explanations for that — primarily, that voters are focused on the economy above faith. But Jones and others say the effect is that 2012 election is more like the days before George W. Bush — when candidates wore religion lightly, not on their sleeves.
To listen to the full segment, click here.