Religion and Politics: Survey Results

*I want to dedicate this post to every single person who completed my survey.  Your responses helped me test my hypotheses, and understand the relationship between religion and politics.  I am forever grateful to every single one of you.  Thank you.*

I started this study with the aim to analyze the connection between religious beliefs and political beliefs.  I was interested to see if the strength of one set of beliefs influenced the strength of the other.  This was my main hypothesis.  However, as I began compiling my survey, I became curious of other variables, and their effects.  Did age play a role?  What about gender?  If someone isn’t religious, does that impact which political party they most agree with?  Does different religious beliefs affect politics?  Does religious beliefs influence more conservative or more liberal beliefs?  And finally, does the amount of time one set of beliefs was held, impact the other?

I believed these variables would be statistically significant (important, statistically unique, different than normal).  I thought the stronger someone believed one set of beliefs, the stronger the other set of beliefs would be.  For example, I thought that if a Christian held very strong beliefs, they would also be a very strong, conservative Republican.  (This was based on prior observations and patterns.).  I thought age and gender played a role in each set of beliefs, but I was unsure to that role.  I thought the type of religious belief, be it religious or non-religious, would have an impact, but I was unsure what that was.  And I thought people that had beliefs from their family for one belief, would hold the other for the same reason.

Several prior studies influenced my knowledge prior to analyzing the results.  For example, a study conducted by Driskell, Embry, and Lyon (2008) suggested that religious beliefs about an involved God and many world issues are significantly related to political participation on a national scale (Driskell, Embry & Lyon).  Another study conducted by Evans (2014) concluded that religious people tend to disagree in terms of political policies, but they have the tendency to agree with the process of reaching those policies (Evans).  Friesen and Ksiazkiewicz (2015) concluded that society functions the best when people follow traditional values, and also was able to conclude that individuals tend to interpret religion as an important guide for one’s life (Friesen and Ksiazkiewicz).  Fitzgerald and Wickwire (2012) were able to conclude that people of specific religious and political groups tend to favor, or express more trust towards others of the same groups (Fitzgerald and Wickwire).  Finally, Meyer, Tope, and Price (2008) concluded that nations of people who tend to be strongly religious are less favorable towards democracy (Meyer, Top & Price).

A total of 193 people responded to my survey.  However, of the responses, 20 responses were discarded.  These responses did not meet all the criteria, such as being 18 or older, or not providing all information.  (All the surveys were completed.  However, 18 of the 20 responses chose not to specify their religious affiliation.  This was an optional spot, but was a factor I was interested in examining.). I chose 18 as the minimal age, because in America, that is the age when teenagers are allowed to vote.  The vast majority of participants were female and between the ages of 18-30.

Of the participants who identified as religious, the vast majority specified their beliefs as “Christian” (non-denominational/ denominational).  However, I also received responses such as “Catholic”, “Spiritual”, “Norse”, “Methodist”, “Mennonite”, “Christo-pagan”, “Baptist”, “Lutheran”, “Jewish”, “Former Mormon”, and even “Catholic with Celtic beliefs”.  Of those that identified as non-religious, the most common responses were “Agnostic” and “Atheist”.

Politically, I asked participants which political party they most aligned with, and then asked them to place themselves on a conservative/liberal scale.  I was interested to see if religious beliefs affected that ranking.

When gathering the responses, I was really focused on not getting a biased sample, such as too many millennials, or too many Christians, or too many Republicans, etc.  (Given where I live, those would have been the most likely biases.). So, I placed my survey on my Facebook page, and thus it was shared by many of my friends.  I also linked it in several of my blog posts.  Finally, I asked one of my previous professors to pass it out to his students.  The responses were kept completely anonymous, apart from asking for age and gender.

I was expecting my sample to slightly biased, with more Republican Christians.  However, I was surprised to find that the split between Republican and Democrat beliefs to be rather equal.

When I had finished analyzing my results, I was disappointed to find my hypotheses were generally not statistically significant. *I’ll apologize here: I seem to have deleted the file with all my graphs and whatnot.  So, unfortunately, I am unable to share with you any of the visual data.*. The strength between religious beliefs and political beliefs was not statistically significant. (For those of you interested, r=-.087.). This was fascinating to me, as I could see participants of similar religious beliefs rating the strength of that belief very high, but then ranking their political beliefs differently and opposite ends of the spectrum.  Also, I saw many responses where on set of beliefs was ranked high, and the other was ranked low.

The effects between “religious and political beliefs” and “gender” were not statistically significant, and neither was the interaction between them.  This was interesting, because based on previous patterns and observations, I expected females to be more religious, but also slightly more liberal.

When I analyzed the interaction between “religious beliefs”, “political beliefs”, and “age”, the interaction was not statistically significant.  However, when I analyzed the main effect of “religious beliefs” on “age”, this was statistically significant.  (For those interested, F (4, 170)= 2.76, p = .03, and h2 = 0.024.).

Finally, I analyzed the relationship between “religious beliefs” and “political beliefs”.  This correlation was mildly statistically significant (r = .19 at p = .013).  This was interesting, because it demonstrated there is indeed a relationship between “religious beliefs” and “political beliefs”.

*Unfortunately, I did not quite get the chance to analyze all the varied variables I wanted to, such as the different types of beliefs against political beliefs, or how long those beliefs were held against the strength of the beliefs.  If I have the chance to re-do this study, I would fine tune the variables I want to explore.  I made the mistake of adding more and more “variables” as my study went on.  I didn’t start with a strict set of things to investigate, and I think that is why so many of potentially interesting insights were ignored.  I ran out of time, and to a degree, resources, thus negatively effecting the validity of my results.*

I think, overall, this study brings some really interesting things to light.  For example, I began to understand that the interpretation of religious texts is often more impactful than just the religious beliefs.  There were participants who were nearly identical in religious beliefs and in their belief strength (sometimes even in age and gender), but completely opposite in terms of political beliefs and conservative/liberal ranking.  (I may even be so bold as to say that it is this split in interpretation that is leading to the split in Christians today …… corresponding blog post to come …..)

Also, it is also possible that race, economic status, and living environment (rural, city, urban, etc.) further impact the relationship between religious and political beliefs.

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I had quite a lot of fun organizing this study, analyzing the results, and understanding real life applications.  It has opened the door to many other questions I would like to pursue, and may at some point.

I’d love to know your thoughts about these results.  Do you think there is a bigger connection between religious beliefs and political beliefs?  Or do you think it’s smaller?


 

religion-in-politics

Ciao for now,

Julia

P.S. I am interested in do a post on modesty, but from guys’ perspectives.  If you are a single, or yet unmarried Christian guy, I’d be honored if you’d fill out this short questionnaire.  Please pass it around to your friends! I will be giving credit where credit is due! Thank you!

Survey

Hey guys, this is going to be a real quick post, but I wanted to share something with you guys.  On the past couple posts, I’ve included a little snippet about a survey for one of my classes.  I had originally set it up so you guys could email me for the information, but I realized that wasn’t going to work.

So here we go, I’ve created a legit survey.  You no longer have to email me or anything; this time it is completely anonymous.  I figure that’s better haha.  You can find it here: Survey Monkey.

But if you truly are interested: Hey guys! For my Statistics this semester, I am required to conduct an experiment. I’m looking to analyze the relationship between the strength of religious beliefs and the strength of political beliefs. I’m organizing this study in the form of a survey, and I’m included the link here. If possible, after you’ve taken it, could you please pass it along to some of your friends?  That would be so awesome, thanks!!

It would be so awesome if you could answer these questions as honestly as you could! Thank-a kindly. 🙂

Ciao for now,

Julia

(P.S. The survey will close the last week in April 2017.)

Survey

The Electoral College

This is my only political post.  I decided a while ago that I wouldn’t post anything about who I voted for, or where I stood.  That being said, I’ve noticed there is a lot of confusion about what the Electoral College is, and why it is important.  I’ve even seen some links on Facebook for petitions to abolish the College.

Personally, I don’t know much about politics other than what is presented by the media.  Even that, sometimes, is like weeding through fact and fiction.  However, I’ve always been someone who tries to educate herself on the things I don’t know, so I can have a better understanding of what is going on in the world.  And so, I’ve been doing some research, with the intention of presenting the importance of the College to those who may not understand why it is part of the election process.

*All of my sources will be listed below, and I encourage you, reader, to do your own further research.*

The Electoral College was originally drafted at the Constitutional Convention of 1787, after many other ideas had been thrown around.  (This was just two years before George Washington became the first President of the United States, by the way.). The College was intended to “reconcile differing state and federal interests, provide a degree of popular participation in the election, give the less populous states some additional leverage in the process by providing “senatorial” electors, preserve the presidency as independent of Congress, and generally insulate the election process from political manipulation” (History).  This was, and is, important because it allows the American people the ability to vote for President by creating a somewhat even playing field.

Who are the Electors? We can’t answer this question until we understand how the House and Senate are designed.  The House of Representatives is comprised of representatives based on population, and are voted on by people in specific districts in each state.  This is why California has 53 Representatives, and Wyoming only has 1.  The Senate, on the other hand, has only two Senators per state, and are voted on by every person in the state, regardless of district.  Now, the amount of Electors per state is dependent on each state’s representation in the federal government:

electoral-college-map

As you can see California, Texas, Illinois, Florida, Pennsylvania, and New York have the greatest amount Electors.  It should be no surprise, then, that these six states also have the highest population in the country.  And because of their population, these states have a larger representation in the federal government.

According to the US Constitution, Electors are elected by each party, in each state, “in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct “ (U.S. Constitution, Article II, section 1).  Electing the Electors is basically a two part process; first, “the political parties in each state choose slates of potential Electors sometime before the general election” (National Archives), and second, the general population votes for each candidate’s Electors during the general election.

The first part: This comes straight from the National Archives– “Generally, the parties either nominate slates of potential Electors at their state party conventions or they chose them by a vote of the party’s central committee. This happens in each state for each party by whatever rules the state party and (sometimes) the national party have for the process. This first part of the process results in each Presidential candidate having their own unique slate of potential Electors.”. So, to put this into terms for this past election: each state had two equal sets of Electors for both Trump and Clinton, decided by both political parties.   Someone can be placed on their party’s slate if they are a state elected official, state party leader, or someone in the state who has a personal or political affiliation with the Presidential candidate for that party.  It’s important to note that the Constitution clearly states that Electors may not be a Senator, a member of the House of Representatives, or someone holding an office of trust or profit under the United States (U.S. Constitution, Article II, section 1).

The second part: It’s a misconception that when we vote in the general election, we are voting directly for the President.  In fact, we are voting for each candidate’s slate of Electors.  The Electors are expected to then cast their vote for the candidate that is representing their political party.  One of the major oppositions people have against the Electoral College is the possibility of a “faithless elector”.  This is an Elector who doesn’t vote for the person from their party, instead voting for the other candidate.  However, according to US Election Atlas:

Faithless Electors have never changed the outcome of an election, though, simply because most often their purpose is to make a statement rather than make a difference. That is to say, when the electoral vote outcome is so obviously going to be for one candidate or the other, an occasional Elector casts a vote for some personal favorite knowing full well that it will not make a difference in the result.

In the whole twentieth century, there have only been eight “faithless electors”.  After the general election, on the Monday after the second Wednesday in December, all of the Electors convene at their state’s capitol building to cast their votes, according to how the state voted.  For example, the Republican Electors in Texas will convene at the Texas Capitol Building on December 19th to cast their votes for President and Vice President. The winning candidate must win at least 270 votes, as that is half the total amount of Electoral votes.  An important stipulation from the Constitution states that the voters must for at least one candidate from another state.

After the results are calculated and endorsed, copies are sent to the President of the Senate, who is also the Vice President, along with other important state officials (History).  Currently, the President of the Senate is Joe Biden.

Final step: The House of Representatives and the Senate will meet in a joint session on January 6, at 1:00 in the afternoon.  There, the President of the Senate will read the results of the Electoral voting aloud, in alphabetical order.  After the each result is read aloud, they are passed to four vote counters, with two picked from both the House and the Senate.  After all of the Electoral results are counted, the President of the Senate announces the new President of the United States.

But what is the point? America is not a pure democracy.  In fact, it is a constitutional federal republic.  It is guided by the Constitution, has one central national government, and officials are voted for by the people.  We are not a direct democracy, because we do not vote directly for the President.  However, in other areas of government, such as state officials, Senators, and Representatives, we vote directly the person we want elected.  No current country has a pure democracy, and those nations that did in history were complete and utter chaos.  For example, if the US was to be completely democratic, the heavier populated states would outweigh the lesser populated states.  This means the interest and beliefs of states like New York, would completely outweigh the interests and beliefs of states like Montana.  The Electoral College is important because it forces candidates to campaign to the entire nation, instead of just to the heavily populated states.

There have been four elections in the past where the elected President won the Electoral vote, but not the popular vote.  Also, looking forward to the December election, it is constitutionally possible for Hillary Clinton to win the Electoral vote.  However, it should be noted that wanting to abolish the Electoral College is not a new idea in any means.


 

 

I wrote, and researched, this post because I myself didn’t know what the Electoral College truly was.  I’ve learned a lot in writing this, and I’ve developed a better understanding of how our government works, and why the Electoral College is in place.  This, however, is not meant to be a statement for or against the College.  It is simply meant to be the facts.  I hope you’re able to learn something from this, and that you have a better understanding of why our government works the way that it does.

*I found this video from Prager University interesting and easy to understand.  It actually inspired me to do my own research.*

Ciao for now,

Julia

 

~SOURCES