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As the U.S. presidential race has moved out of swing states, we see more people in the middle, on both left and right. This pattern has been observed before. However, it seems that Clinton and Trump are seeing their campaign turn in a very familiar direction at the moment – toward social conservatives, and away from social liberals.
A large study by the Pew Research Center shows that the share of likely voters who identify as politically conservative increased markedly in the last six months of 2010, and is about 10 percentage points higher today than it was in 2012. And the share of likely voters who identify as politically liberal decreased 9 points.
So who are these people, why do they vote, and how can they do so?
Most people know the name Sarah Palin. In 2012, she was the Republican nominee for vice president and was known for calling herself a “pro-life Democrat.” But she has always maintained that she doesn’t identify as a Republican or Democrat.
However, this election season some prominent conservatives are calling themselves “Republicans-For-Jesus.” It was originally intended as a tongue-in-cheek hashtag, and it is still intended as such today.
And the idea of someone like Palin actually running for president is something the left and the conservative evangelical community – who have become more and more influential in recent years – are seeing as very real. On the Republican side, this is a phenomenon they call the Christian vote: a group of voters who strongly support a candidate in the hopes of pushing other voters to their side.
The “Republicans-For-Jesus” tagline appears in the following ways:
1. When Donald Trump says something that’s anti-Muslim or pro-gay – for instance, saying “I will not let you in” on a Syrian refugee program – that just motivates people to follow their political beliefs more strongly: a) because Trump says this (and the other candidates may say this too), and b) because he has said this.
2. When Ben Carson says something negative about Muslims, he drives people’s faith in him up. When he says something positive about Muslims, he drives people’s faith in him up.
3. When Ted Cruz says something he considers to be a “stupid” comment about homosexuality, it motivates people to think more deeply about Christianity. When Donald