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The Religious and Political Consequences of Political Knowledge

The Religious and Political Consequences of Political Knowledge

(p.131) Six The Religious and Political Consequences of Political Knowledge
From Politics to the Pews
Michele F. Margolis
University of Chicago Press

Chapter 6 explores how political knowledge helps create the religious gap. First, the chapter shows that respondents with medium and high levels of political knowledge drive the findings from the previous chapter. In contrast, partisans with little political knowledge did not update their religious attachments to be consistent with their partisanship. Next, the data show that a political knowledge gap, in addition to a partisan gap, exists within churches. If more knowledgeable Republicans select into religion and more knowledgeable Democrats select out of religion, then Americans affiliated with different religious currents should differ both in terms of partisanship and political knowledge. The results indicate that while Republicans who are politically engaged are also more likely to be involved in religion, Democrats who are politically engaged are less likely to be involved with religion. Republicans, therefore, not only attend church more often than Democrats, but church-going Republicans are also more politically engaged than church-going Democrats. Partisan differences in political knowledge and engagement, in turn, change the likelihood that campaigns can successfully mobilize supporters through churches.

Keywords:   religion and politics, political knowledge, “God gap”, cross-sectional data

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