Janelle Wong is an Associate Professor of American Studies and the Director of Asian American Studies at University of Maryland in College Park, MD. Her research focuses on race, immigration, and political mobilization. Dr. Wong is the author of Democracy’s Promise: Immigrants and American Civic Institutions (2006, University of Michigan Press) and co-author of two books on Asian American politics. She is currently working on a book about the impact Asian American and Latino evangelical Christians will have on the traditional conservative Christian movement and immigrant political participation. Recently, PRRI had the opportunity to speak with Dr. Wong in depth about some of the 2014 American Values Survey’s findings on Asian Americans.
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.