Publication in: Spring 2023 Issue

Christianity, Candidates, and Coding: How Evangelicalism Affects Campaigning
Peter Manelski
Political Science
Faculty Mentor(s):
Ashley Moraguez
Abstract / Summary:
When we look at Senatorial candidate’s campaign websites, we see a stark contrast in the amount of Christian rhetoric that is used. This raises the question: Why do some political candidates use more religious rhetoric than others? I theorize that, due to evangelical Christians’ political and community involvement, the amount of explicit religious rhetoric used by a candidate has a positive correlation with the percentage of evangelicals among the electorate. Furthermore, I theorize the absence of evangelicals among the electorate will increase a candidate’s use of coded, rather than explicit, religious rhetoric. I test my claims by collecting data on religious rhetoric from the websites of all 2022 Senate candidates. This yielded partial support for my theoretical claims, as candidates increase their use of both explicit and coded rhetoric when campaigning to evangelically dense areas. More research is needed to closely examine these findings and others in the analysis.
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