Taylor Swift, Gender Roles, and the Midterm Elections

Is the “Pod Save America Voter” the Most Engaged Voter?
A new PRRI/The Atlantic survey released yesterday reveals that more than half of Americans say they are absolutely certain to vote in the midterm elections—but some voters are more engaged than others. At The Atlantic, Emma Green writes that secular Democrats, or “Pod Save America voters,” are one of the voting blocs most fired up about the midterm elections. “They are Democrats, college-educated, and largely secular,” Green writes. “They are likely to be women, but they’re not necessarily white or particularly young. These are the people who might post rants about Donald Trump on Facebook or harass their friends to donate to Planned Parenthood. They may sign petitions on Change.org or follow the Facebook page of the U.S. Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke, even though they don’t live in Texas.” According to PRRI Research Director Dan Cox, PhD, these voters are most opposed to the administration. “Culturally, this is the subgroup of the Democratic Party that feels most at odds with the direction of the country and what the Trump administration is doing,” Cox tells Green.
Trump Era Erodes Black Participation in Politics and Activism
The 2018 elections mark one of the most consequential civic moments for black voters in modern times, according to The Atlantic’s Vann Newkirk. Black voters showed up to the polls at historic levels during Barack Obama’s two elections in 2008 and 2012. However, during the two years of Donald Trump’s presidency, “black political and civic participation has been especially damaged,” writes Newkirk, drawing on the newly released PRRI/The Atlantic survey on civic engagement. Historically, black Americans have reported higher levels of engagement than other races in a range of civic and political activities. But according to PRRI’s new data, there are no significant differences between black Americans and voters of other races. “In the data, we see a sense of something like despair or cynicism or something over the last 12 months that has certainly dampened the kinds of engagement that they would have historically reported,” says PRRI CEO Robert P. Jones, PhD. However, while voters of all races say they are about equally likely to vote in the midterms, black voters are significantly more likely to say that their friends also intend to vote. “I think that’s a good measure of energy and an indication that people are actually talking about the midterm elections,” Jones says.
Regular Churchgoing Makes Trump Voters More Enthusiastic for Trump
“Why do so many churchgoers support President Trump even though his personal history, harsh rhetoric and antagonistic attitudes toward much of the world seem to be at odds with most religious teachings?” ask Ryan Burge and PRRI board member, Paul Djupe, in an article for The Washington Post. The Cato Institute’s Emily Etkins has theorized that Trump voters who attend church regularly could exercise a moderating influence on the administration due to their more liberal attitudes, but Burge and Djupe dispute that theory using data from the Democracy’s Fund’s Voter Study Group. They argue that while churchgoing conservatives do possess more moderate attitudes on a range of issues, these conservatives support the president just as strongly as secular Trump voters do, if not more so. The authors conclude that conservative churchgoers’ relatively moderate positions on race, immigration, and identity will not spark pushback against the administration’s more conservative policies.
U.S. Sees Dramatic Growth in Clergywomen Over Two Decades
During the past 25 years, the number of clergywomen leading mainline churches has increased dramatically, with some denominations reaching numerical equity between men and women, according to a new study. The author, Dr. Eileen Campbell-Reed, compiled “State of Clergywomen in the U.S.: A Statistical Update” in an effort to track how women are faring in American churches. “Such a big question deserves sustained attention. The numbers are one important way to consider the status of women in ministry,” says Campbell-Reed, a professor, author, and academic entrepreneur who has been writing about clergywomen for more than a decade. The report highlights strong growth in some areas: For example, women leading mainline churches represent 27 percent of pastors, a sharp increase since 1994, when data was last compiled across denominations and women comprised only 15 percent of clergy.
Dan Cox: Dems Believe Sexual Harassment in the Workplace is an Issue; Republicans Do Not.
Appearing on HillTV’s “What America’s Thinking,” PRRI Research Director Dan Cox PhD discussed Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s recent confirmation process and public attitudes toward some of the issues raised during the congressional hearings that followed his nomination. Cox says, “What we’re seeing with the fallout of some of this is that the issue of sexual harassment, the #MeToo movement, has now become a partisan issue like everything else.” The PRRI poll that Cox referenced during his interview found that 50 percent of Democrats believe that sexual harassment in the workplace is a critical issue, compared to 27 percent of Republicans.
Georgia Governor’s Race Highlights Voter Suppression
The Georgia gubernatorial race has put a new spotlight on voting rights issues within the state and around the country. The state’s deadline to register to vote came and went this Tuesday, but it’s still not clear whether tens of thousands of potential voters whose applications were flagged as part of the state’s “exact match” registration process will be able to vote in November. The Associated Press reports that nearly 70 percent of these applications are from black voters. The state has also been criticized for the mass cancellation of inactive voter registrations. Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, who is in charge of elections and voter registration, also happens to be the Republican nominee for governor. “I have an opponent who is a remarkable architect of voter suppression,” Kemp’s opponent, Democrat Stacey Abrams said in August. “My mission is to tell folks, ‘He doesn’t matter, you do. Your right to vote is yours, and I’m going to give you a reason to use it.’” According to a new PRRI/ The Atlantic survey, black and Hispanic Americans are more likely than whites to say that removing eligible voters from voter registration lists is a major problem in our election system (74 percent, 60 percent, and 52 percent, respectively).
PRRI Fellow Weighs in on Yale Discrimination Lawsuit
Janelle Wong, a PRRI public fellow, and professor of Asian-American studies at the University of Maryland, recently published an op-ed in The Chronicle of Higher Education, addressing the U.S. Justice Department’s current investigation into potential discrimination against Asian-American applicants at Yale University. (Harvard University is also facing a lawsuit for alleged discrimination against Asian-Americans.) In her op-ed, Wong argues that “the purported evidence of racial discrimination at highly selective institutions is flimsy.” Meanwhile, Wong writes, “Ending affirmative action will not have a big effect on Asian-American admission rates. But if opponents of such policies are successful, lack of diversity will create a worse learning environment for Asian-American students like my son and damage a multiracial civil-rights coalition that could protect Asian-Americans from discrimination into the future.”
Conservative and Progressive Christians Race to Get Out the Vote
As the majority of white evangelical Protestants continue to support President Trump, progressive Christians are also organizing in preparation for the 2018 midterms. Jerome Socolovsky reports for NPR that conservative groups like the James Dobson Family Institute are engaged in Christian voter turnout campaigns ahead of the November election, alongside progressive religious groups like Faith in Action. PRRI’s most recent data shows that 73 percent of white evangelical Protestants hold a favorable opinion of Trump, which is largely unchanged from July 2018, when 77 percent said the same. Meanwhile, majorities of black Protestants (93 percent), Hispanic Catholics (76 percent), non-Christian religious Americans (74 percent), white Catholics (52 percent), and white mainline Protestants (52 percent) all have an unfavorable view of the president.