Voting from the Pew: The Effect of Senators' Religious Identities on Partisan Polarization in the U.S. Senate


  • We would like to thank Frances Lee, Irwin Morris, Geoff Layman, James Guth, Joshua Dyck, the editors at Legislative Studies Quarterly, and the anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments and support.


Partisan polarization in the Senate is in part a product of the increased sorting of evangelical Christians into the Republican caucus. The relationship between senators' religious identities, party affiliation, and ideology has changed since the 1970s. Whereas congressional party caucuses in the past were more diverse in their religious composition, evangelical Christian senators have sorted themselves into the party that most closely resembles the values of their religious identities, leading to greater overall polarization.