In the past few weeks, Public Religion Research Institute’s research has made quite a few appearances at the New York Times, helping to shape the coverage around the final weeks of the 2012 election. Most recently, columnist Ross Douthat cited PRRI’s research in a piece about the outreach he believes Romney needs to undertake in order to win over mainstream America:
He’s winning white working class voters in the South but only breaking even with them elsewhere, sometimes up, sometimes down. He’s losing blue-collar white women, who often lean Republican, by wide margins in the swing states. These are groups that have taken an economic beating under President Obama – who have been “buried,” as Joe Biden acknowledged at a campaign stop in North Carolina this week, by bad job numbers and declining incomes. But they haven’t broken for Romney, because he hasn’t found a way to reassure them that he isn’t just the candidate of people like himself – and then because his infamous “47 percent” comment confirmed their worst fears about his candidacy.
Earlier this week, the same research served as the anchor for the New York Times’ “Room for Debate,” where seven experts weighed in on the South’s continuing conservatism. And recently, “Campaign Stops” blogger Thomas Edsall used this same survey to explore why the Romney campaign largely conceded Pennsylvania to Obama relatively early in the race.
It’s not just the findings from the 2012 Race, Class and Culture Survey that are shaping coverage at the Times, however. Just before the Democratic and Republican Conventions, reporter Laurie Goodstein turned to Dr. Robert P. Jones, PRRI CEO, for analysis of Cardinal Timothy Dolan’s role at the conventions. In the article, Dr. Jones observed that “Since 1972, the candidate who has won the Catholic vote has won the popular vote as well. The Catholic vote does tend to be on the side of the winning candidate. It’s the quintessential religious swing group.”