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Moral Victories in the Battle for Congress

Moral Victories tells the story of the growing importance of moral issues in U.S. House elections. Christian conservative activists worked to nominate friendly candidates and get them elected. The result was a Republican House delegation that cared as much about abortion and gay rights as it did smaller government and lower taxes.

Moral Victories in the Battle for Congress
Cultural Conservatism and the House GOP

Marty Cohen

2019 | 264 pages | Cloth $69.95
Political Science
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Table of Contents


Chapter 1. The Lay of the Land
Chapter 2. A Voter's Right to Choose
Chapter 3. Party Coalition Change and U.S. House Elections
Chapter 4. From the Protests to the Precincts
Chapter 5. Religion and Republicanism
Chapter 6. Overcoming the Past
Chapter 7. Issue Polarization and Voting Behavior in U.S. House Elections
Chapter 8. The Importance of Being Moral
Chapter 9. Moral Victories and a New GOP Majority

List of Interviews

Excerpt [uncorrected, not for citation]

From the Preface

In the fall of 1994, my first job after graduating from Penn State University was as the College Democrats' state coordinator in charge of mobilizing students on behalf of the entire Democratic ticket in Pennsylvania. It was my first campaign job, and maybe because of the beating we took, it was my last campaign job. Two years later, I enrolled in the PhD program at the University of California, Los Angeles. Academia would be in my future and campaigns in my past. But I still could not get over the bitter defeat of 1994. It was the so-called Republican Revolution, and I became determined to learn more about how the GOP assumed control of both houses of Congress for the first time in forty years. I wanted to know that it was not entirely my fault. At the same time, I was searching for a field paper topic. I grew up in a solidly liberal Jewish home and was most interested in understanding why Jewish Americans tended to be liberal Democrats. After speaking with the great professor David Sears, I was dissuaded from studying this topic when he alerted me to the paucity of data on Jewish political attitudes at that time. I took David's advice and left his office thinking, "Why not then go to the other end of the spectrum and investigate why evangelical Christians tended to be conservative Republicans?" Thus began my long, strange trip toward the publication of this book. It began as an examination of the role evangelicals played in helping the Republican Party win the Congress in that watershed year of 1994, but it gradually morphed into a more general examination of how religiously conservative activists helped reshape the Republican U.S. House delegation.

I hope that this book contributes to the literature on parties, polarization, congressional elections, and religion in politics. My goal is to help explain the transformation of the Republican House delegation from a fiscally conservative one spread evenly throughout the country to a more morally traditional, Southern-based one that has expanded to majority status and reshaped the American political landscape. To do this, I felt it was necessary to focus on the grassroots efforts of religious conservative activists and their efforts to materially transform the Republican Party from the ground up. I believed it was important to combine a statistical analysis of the voting behavior of U.S. House voters with case studies designed to flesh out the phenomena I was seeking to chronicle. I humbly hope that this methodological combination has enabled me to construct a convincing argument that not only informs but entertains the readers of this work.

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