The Politics of Sex
Public Opinion, Parties, and Presidential Elections
Routledge – 2014 – 210 pages
Routledge – 2014 – 210 pages
The American cultural landscape has shifted considerably since the 1990s. As church attendance has declined, seculars have increased in number and in political involvement. The economy was supposed to be the most important issue in the 2008 and 2012 elections, but social issues such as gay rights and the status of women actually had a greater impact on vote choice. Moral issues and perceptions of candidate morality had less effect on voters in 2004 than in 2008.
These arguments directly challenge the conventional wisdom concerning the 2004 and 2008 elections, which were supposedly decided on the basis of moral values and the economy respectively. Yet in The Politics of Sex, Susan B. Hansen justifies these claims theoretically based on evidence about how voters actually evaluate candidates. Hansen explores trends in public opinion on abortion, gay rights, and the status of women and finds that "values voters" are still crucial in presidential elections, even those supposedly fought over economic or foreign-policy issues. She then analyzes campaign strategies and vote choice to show how Barack Obama made effective use of the liberal trends in public opinion on social issues in 2008 and 2012. Hansen also examines trends in demographics, religious involvement, the institutional setting, and public opinion to predict who in future years benefit from the politics of sex.
By providing an historical perspective on the changing impact of morality politics on presidential elections, this book will show how and why the politics of sex now favors the Democratic Party.
"The Politics of Sex teaches us that culture war politics are alive and well, even if the battleground has shifted. The Republicans continue to fight the last war, while the Democrats have adapted to a changing electorate. Anyone who wants to understand the politics of the recent past—and the future—should read this book."
—David E. Campbell, University of Notre Dame, co-author of American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us
"The Politics of Sex upends conventional wisdom on the role of social and moral issues in American politics. In this clear and accessible book, Hansen lays bare the increasingly secular nature of the American electorate and the growing influence of their views in recent presidential and Congressional elections. This is an important book that will change the way scholars view American politics and the future trajectory of the Republican and Democratic parties."
—Leonie Huddy, SUNY at Stony Brook
"In The Politics of Sex, Susan Hansen has once again written a book that is likely to inspire, provoke, and stimulate readers in the academy and the broader informed public. Her claim that Democrats now benefit from the politics of sex fits well with many recent campaigns, and makes the broader point that changes in demographics and public opinion can change the partisan tilt of an issue domain. Highly recommended to students of public opinion, religion and politics, gender politics, electoral politics, and the politics of social issues."
—Clyde Wilcox, Georgetown University
"… the language of the book is accessible to undergraduates, and the ideas are potentially interesting to a wide audience. Summing Up: Recommended. All readership levels. --J. Heyrman, Berea College
1. The Politics of Sex 2. Social Issues and the Survey Response. 3. Public Opinion and Social Issues . 4. Religion, Religiosity, and Opinions on Social Issues. 5. Political Strategy and the Politics of Sex. 6. Morality, Scandals, and Candidate Character Traits. 7. Morality, Values, and Politics in Presidential Elections, 1980-2008. 8. The Politics of Sex in 2010. 9. "Shiny objects:" Social Issues and the 2012 Election. 10. Conclusion.
Susan B. Hansen is Professor Emerita in the Department of Political Science at the University of Pittsburgh.