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Blind SpotWhen Journalists Don't Get Religion$
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Paul Marshall, Lela Gilbert, and Roberta Green-Ahmanson

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195374360

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195374360.001.0001

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“Misunderestimating” Religion in the 2004 Presidential Campaign

“Misunderestimating” Religion in the 2004 Presidential Campaign

(p.87) 5 “Misunderestimating” Religion in the 2004 Presidential Campaign
Blind Spot

C. Danielle Vinson

James L. Guth

Oxford University Press

This chapter analyzes coverage of the religious dimensions of the 2004 U.S. presidential election and concludes that journalists consistently misunderstood the meaning and dynamics of many of the events on which they reported. The labels often used by journalists to categorize religious adherents missed many of the most important political cleavages and what makes religious voters tick. One result was that Bush’s religious beliefs and appeal were mischaracterized, while Kerry’s religious beliefs were usually ignored. The same pattern held for coverage of evangelical and African-American churches. After the election, general ignorance about America’s religious dynamics led to widespread media surprise that increased youth and general voter turnout had helped Bush rather than Kerry.

Keywords:   election, Bush, Kerry, voting, turnout, evangelical, African American churches

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