Religious Identification and Legislative Voting: The Mormon Case
Political Research Quarterly, Forthcoming
34 Pages Posted: 9 Jan 2008
While religious affiliation and religiosity have profound effects on political behavior in mass publics, less is known about the effect of religion on political elites. While questions regarding the influence of religious leaders (especially for hierarchically structured sects) looms large in the popular media, a host of other possible religious influences exist. This paper considers the extent to which religious identification influences the roll-call voting behavior of Mormon members of the U.S. House of Representatives. The possibility for influence seems high in the Mormon case as Mormon citizens demonstrate high levels of support for pronounced church positions on ballot initiatives. However, a review of influences on legislative decision making shows that the theoretical rationale for religious influence on legislative roll-call voting is tenuous at best. I present a simple empirical test of the hypothesis that Mormon representatives are more cohesive than randomly selected sets of legislators. Results show that across a range of different issue areas, Mormon representatives are no more unified in their voting behavior than randomly selected sets of legislators.
Keywords: religion and politics, Mormon, roll-call voting, cohesion
JEL Classification: D73
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation