The Myth of Evangelicals’ Political Apathy

This is the online appendix for my article “The Myth of Evangelicals’ Political Apathy” on the Emerging Scholars Network blog.

1. The 2016 National Election Pilot Study

The data I use was sourced from the 2016 National Election Pilot Study that polled a nationally representative sample of 1200 respondents. The survey was conducted online between January 22 and January 28, 2016. For more details, please go to the study page here.

2. Who is an evangelical?

Who to count as an evangelical remains a difficult question (for my previous discussions about it, see here and here). When using public datasets, researchers need to use the best available inferences from the questions that are included. In this survey, I code evangelicals as anyone who self-reports as born again and attends church at least monthly.

While some studies use the most expansive definition of evangelicals (anyone who self-reports as evangelicals), I include the qualifier that they must also attend church at least monthly to differentiate between “just” those who self-identify as evangelicals and those for whom their born-again experience can be seen borne out in some form of religious behavior, here measured as at least some (monthly) church attendance.

3. Self-report of political action

In this article, I analyze respondents’ self-report of their political action. Self-reporting should be taken with a grain of salt as respondents tend to over-report their political behavior. For example, 77% of respondents in the survey report having voted in the 2012 election when the turnout was closer to 55%.

However, while respondents over-report how politically active they actually are, it is unlikely  there are systematic bias in what type of respondents over-report. Thus, because everyone likely over-reports, we can still make sound comparisons of differences between groups of respondents (evangelicals and non-evangelicals, weekly churchgoers versus infrequent churchgoers).

 

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