Friday, July 21, 2006

Interesting info on how US political parties market religion

In December 2005 The Program in American Democracy at the University of Notre Dame had a conference on religion in the 2004 election. The website is still up with the program and papers for download.

An interesting paper was presented on the Saturday session that compares how the Republican and Democratic Parties, and associated groups, use religion in their marketing materials. The focus was on the conservative side, but there's a lot of information on liberal groups too. You can download a pdf file of the talk, look for the link titled

'The Instrumental Use of Religion to Mobilize Religious Conservatives in the 2004 Election.'

I think the results are interesting. The RNC is by far the major producer of religious messages in conservative campaign material. Most of it concerns same-sex marriage, and there's also a major effort to brand certain phrases as signifying conservative Christian beliefs, such as 'family values', 'moral values.' There is also what looks like an effort to strongly connect the Boy Scouts with conservative religious values.

What I found most interesting is that there is a near parity between conservative and liberal groups in producing unique religious messages. The conservative groups produce only 20% more distinct individual messages. But the conservative groups send out the same messages almost ten times. RNC mails out by far the most. There is also a description of RNC micro-targeting marketing techniques, including interesting stuff on their data-mining techniques for constructing the groups.