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.
Welcome to the Morning Buzz, PRRI’s morning dose of religion-related news with a shot of data – because what doesn’t liven up a morning round-up like some public opinion numbers?
Daredevil Felix Baumgartner broke the world record by skydiving from 24 miles up. (That’s about 120,000 feet).
Turning to last week’s vice presidential debate, one of the most dramatic moments came when Biden and Ryan, who are both Catholic, were asked about their positions on abortion. A majority of Catholics say that abortion is morally wrong, but that it should be legal in all or most cases.
Meanwhile, on the campaign trail, the presidential candidates are focusing more on environmental regulations. A slim majority (53%) of Americans favor tougher laws and regulations to protect the environment even if it raises prices or costs jobs.
If you live in a swing state, prepare for an avalanche of political ads in the coming weeks, as both campaigns seek to change your mind. And if someone from one of the campaigns calls you, they may have much more information about you than you imagine.
Nate Silver wonders whether polls are underestimating the extent of Obama’s support among Latinos.
Former Senator Arlen Specter, Pennsylvania’s longest serving Senator, died yesterday.