The Role of Religion and the Media in the 2008 Election sample essay
What role is religion playing in the 2008 presidential race to White house and how are these presidential candidates using media in their campaigns? The 2008 presidential election is the first election to be held in the United States of America without any incumbent president vying for the position. The election that which be held on 4th November will coincide with the senate election, House of Representatives election. It is a highly contested election with both political divides contesting hard for the presidency.
The two divides are republican and the democrat. The republican consists of the former Arkansas governor, Mike Huckabee, Alan Keyes who was ambassador to the economic and social council department of the United Nations; there is also John McCain and Ron Paul. On the side of the democrats we have senator Barrack Obama and Hillary Clinton, the former first lady. My purpose of conducting this research is to establish whether religion is playing any role in the 2008’s race to the white house. I will also try to establish the role that the media is playing during the campaign time.
At the moment, the role that religion is playing is not well established but most voters view Hillary Clinton and Rudy Giulian as the most religious presidential candidates above the rest. The criterion for judging the degree of religiosity is not clear-cut but nevertheless we have those candidates that are viewed as the most religious and others the least religious. Perhaps because perception of the voters towards Romney’s Mormonism he is seen as the least religious. (Associated Press., 2007).
In the past, religion played a very big role in the presidential campaigns. The candidate who is viewed as most religious tends to be voted for by many Americans than those who are viewed as less religious. The reason for these candidates to amass many votes is because the voters tend to influence others to favor the said candidate but currently this does not seem to work, as there are a lot of factors that will determine the eventual winner however the part it plays cannot be ignored.
The religious opinion polls show that currently you do not have to be seen as very religious in order to be voted in this is according to the Pew Survey which revealed that John Edwards and Obama who have 28 and 24 percent respectively are the most religious presidential candidates. There are also those who view Guliani as a strong believer, they comprise of about 14 percent and the remaining percentage see him as somehow religious. Many Americans do not believe in Mormonism and for this reason those candidates who subscribe to his type of religion receive the least supports from the voters and for this reason Mitt Romney is a victim.
In fact, about 61% of the voters in America are more likely to vote for a candidate who believes in God than those who do not. In the recent polls that have been conducted show that some social issues which are of concern such as gay relationships and marriages are no longer of prime importance in the American politics as they were in the past. (Cox D. and Smith G. 2007). Today, most Americans are only interested in domestic related issues such as health, security and also how the foreign affairs impact on the Americans for example the Iraq war.
In America, various religious groups vote presidential candidates differently. This is because there is no single religion that people should subscribe to. America practices the liberal democratic model that advocates for no states religion and therefore one candidate may get more votes from one religious group than from another. For example according to the new research findings that were released in 2008, the republican candidate Giuliani is greatly favored by various religious groups than how he is favored by the white evangelicals.
Since the time John Kennedy, a catholic was voted as the president of USA in 1960, religion ceased to be very influential in political matters. Today presidential candidates are trying to revive this influence but it seems not to be that effective. These candidates with a hope that people would be influenced by religious beliefs are freely talking about their religious experiences and their beliefs.
For example senator Hillary Clinton was quoted praising her Methodist denomination that it helped her when the marriage was on the verge of breaking down. The Senator for Illinois Obama, United Church of Christ follower has frequently been heard proclaiming having a relationship with Jesus Christ. Also when John Edwards a democrat was told to comment on the issue of gay marriage, he said that as a Methodist his faith did not condone such kind of a relationship. (Associated Press., 2007)
Even the republicans are not left behind in their campaigns. They are also trying to use religion in the best way possible to influence the voters. For example John McCain who is an Episcopalian believes people are uniquely created by God and his fellow competitor Mike Huckabee who is an ordained minister in the Baptist Church has been more emphatic on his belief, “God created heavens and the earth”.
Despite other candidates trying hard to use religion as a political tool, some candidates like Rudolph Giuliani are not doing the same. As a divorced Catholic believer he has stepped out that bracket by claiming that one’s beliefs are personal matters. He is one of the ardent supporters of the rights to abortion. (Associated Press., 2007)
The media has played a very big role in this year presidential election that is due to be held in 4th November 2008. Its effects are mostly felt when some candidates get less coverage than others but this sometimes depends on the much you have invested in media campaigns. (Cesca B., 2008). Because of how this race is challenging, many candidates have been forced to switch to alternative latest technologies in order to pass their messages to as many Americans as possible.
These technologies are things like radios, newspapers, satellite and the Internet. Though many people have an access, research findings have shown that young people who have an access to the Internet are less likely to read political articles and newspapers on the Internet when compared with the older generation. (Kirkpatrick D.D., 2007)
Presidential candidates have put well-decorated websites to steal the attention of the people. They have also given their vital personal details so that they would appear more real. The 2008 presidential candidates are well aware of how media can be so influential. They are using both the free media and the power of advertising but this depends on the candidate’s ability to place adverts on the television and radio stations.
Various candidates in assassinating the character of others have misused the media and Obama has been a victim of this. There were allegations that Obama had links with terrorists, there was also a case between the estate developers but all these allegations were cleared. (Davis D., 2007).
This trend is very common nowadays and presidential candidates sometimes give incriminating information against their competitors. Media determines whether you will win or lose for example, during this 2008 race to White house, the media scaled down the number of candidates to five or rather only five candidates that received wide media coverage. It also covers some candidates more than others for example Obama has been receiving more media coverage than the rest. This coverage influences the voters, as they appear to be the most favored.
To conclude, it is now evident that religion plays a vital role in influencing the opinion of the public though it is not like it used to be in the past years. Many current presidential candidates are trying hard to win votes by associating themselves with certain religious denominations.
According to the research, the candidate who is seen as the most religious tend to be favored by many voters than that who is not. On the other hand the role that the media performs cannot also be ignored. Candidates have realized that it is a powerful tool, which if used well can earn one a lot of votes. Media can also be used to tarnish the name of another candidates. The extent to which you receive media coverage depends on your popularity and the money that you invest on advertising.
Associated Press. August 1st 2007. Religion Factoring into 2008 White House Race. Accessed on 5th March 2008 at http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/17152240
Cesca B., March 4th 2008. Media Coverage of 2008 Election. Accessed on 5th March 2008. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tag/media-coverage-of-2008-election
Cox D. and Smith G. 2007. Pew forum on religion and public life: religious groups presidential Candidate Preferences. Accessed on Thursday, March 06, 2008 http://pewforum.org/docs/?docID=259
Davis D. 17th July 07, 2007. In Rural Poverty Fight, Showing Up is a First Step. National Public Radio.
Kirkpatrick D.D. October 28, 2007. The Evangelical
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