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Jonathan Knuckey, "Religious Conservatives, the Republican Party and Evolving Party Coalitions in the United States," Party Politics, 5 (October 1999), 485-496.

First Paragraph:
Since the early 1980s scholars have devoted considerable attention to the political activity of religious conservatives. Given their prominence within the contemporary Republican Party (Wilcox, 1992, 1996; Oldfield, 1995, 1996; Rozell and Wilcox, 1995, 1996), two important questions are: (1) how large a group are religious conservatives in the mass electorate, and (2) how distinctive are they in terms of their political behavior when compared to other Republican identifiers? In answering both questions, one must first establish criteria by which religious conservatives can be identified. While there is a considerable literature discussing the origins, transformation and influence of religious conservatives in American politics (e.g. Guth, 1983; Liebman, 1983; Moen, 1992; Wald, 1992; Wilcox, 1996), their empirical identification has proved to be problematic, mainly as a consequence of different operational definitions employed by the extant literature.

Figures and Tables:
Table 1: the size of the partisan groups in the mass electorate, 1996 (%)
Table 2: A multivariate model of voting behavior by partisan groups in the 1996 presidential and US House elections
Table 3: Predicted probabilities of voting Republican by partisan groups in the 1996 presidential and US House elections
Table 4: Issue positions by partisan groups.

Last Paragraph:
By using the empirical definition of religious conservatives in this paper, further research questions and hypotheses can be pursued. Analysis of religious conservatives over time, and over space (i.e. a state-by-state comparison), have been problematic because of different operational definitions of religious conservatives. A common operational definition is thus an essential first step for such comparisons. Additionally, by beginning with a broad definition, one can begin to probe the differences among religious conservatives, rather than treating them as a monolithic faction within the Republican Party. One could also use the definition to move beyond the mass level to the elite level and identify the size and distinctiveness of religious conservatives among party activists. Such approaches would assist empirical research on the important topic of religious conservatives in American politics, and specifically their role and influence within the modern Republican Party.