Sam Casey

LGBTQ and Leviticus: How Religious Appeals Affect the Electability of Queer Political Candidates

April 10, 2021   /  

Name: Sam Casey
Major: Political Science: U.S. National Politics
Advisors: Dr. Álvaro Corral, Dr. Désirée Weber

My Independent Study tests the effect of religious appeals when used by a gay political candidate on voters’ level of support in elections. Inspired by the candidacy of Pete Buttigieg during the 2020 Democratic presidential primaries, I wanted to see if LGBTQ individuals running for office could get more support from both liberal and conservative voters if they employ certain religious messaging. Traditionally, religious, conservative voters would not be open to a gay candidate but may find a shared identity if the candidate describes their religious values and the role it plays in their life. Alternatively, liberal voters may favor a religious gay candidate because of “strategic discrimination,” where they may prefer a certain candidate but choose another because they will have broader appeal. To test these theories, I designed a survey experiment that randomly assigned participants to view the “About” campaign webpage of either a gay candidate that uses religious speech and one that does not. I found evidence that supports the idea that conservative voters would be more willing to vote for a gay candidate that uses religious appeals. Other parts of my hypothesis were not supported, however, and future research should include the addition of a non-religious straight candidate to compare the level of support with the gay religious candidate. A more representative sample should also be used.

Sam will be online to field comments on April 16:
10am-noon EDT (Asia: late evening, PST: 6-8am, Africa/Europe: early evening)

64 thoughts on “LGBTQ and Leviticus: How Religious Appeals Affect the Electability of Queer Political Candidates”

  1. Sam, congratulations on your I.S. and upcoming graduation!! It is great to see your senior research – after hearing about it on the Admissions panel with you the other evening. (By the way, you absolutely rocked the panel!!) I wish you the best in life after Wooster.

  2. Congrats, Sam, on completing your IS project. It was so cool to check it out now after hearing bits of it during fall semester when you TA’d for PSCI 401! This is an understudied area in PSCI -kudos for pushing our field forward. Well done!

    1. Thanks Dr. Bos! I really love the political psychology subfield and hopefully we will see more research in this area in the coming years.

  3. Sam – What a fun presentation! Family Feud on a slide…I’m going to have to adopt that! Great to “see” you in your presentation.

    And, survey says…It was wonderful working with you in several ways, including the many, many hours of deep work on EPC over the years. Congratulations, Sam!

    1. Thanks Bryan! EPC was not the same without you but hope you’ve enjoyed a well-timed “break”

  4. Hi Sam, I really like the research your IS focused on. Also, your presentation was very well done and fun to watch, it did a great job explaining your thesis and holding my attention. Great IS, and good luck in whatever is next in life!

    1. Wave!!! Thank you for your nice comment and checking out the video. I’m definitely ready to join you in the adult life.

  5. What does your study mean or tell us about “strategic discrimination” that liberal voters tend to use? Oh, and congrats btw 😉

    1. Hi Ms. O’Leary, great question! I found out about strategic discrimination (SD) a little later in the process so I wish I could’ve incorporated it more. In general, I would say my study was the wrong type to incorporate SD because there was no control or comparison to a straight candidate. The original study found that white men were more likely to get support from even liberal voters compared to white women, Black men, and Black women. I wasn’t able to add to SD as much as I would like, but I hope other studies will!

  6. What was your biggest personal challenge with the IS experience, and what do you think you learned the most from it?

  7. How do you think your thesis would be affected by a multi-party political system?

  8. Hey, Sam! I’m not surprised this is so well done; your presentation and entire project summary both are exceptionally well thought-out and presented. I think it’s fascinating to look at these appeals on the heels of Buttigieg’s upward rise—he’s done well for himself since the presidential election, so this is definitely something to keep thinking about. Cheers, and congratulations!

  9. Congrats, Sam! Thanks for doing important research and presenting it in such an entertaining way. It’s been a pleasure working with you in basically everything over the past four years.

  10. Congrats sam! In talking about intersectionality, how do you think this would change with religious candidates who are not Christian? Loved the crash course theme!

    1. Thanks Shankar! It definitely would’ve changed a lot. As we know, Christianity is the dominant religion in the U.S. and anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, and just a lack of openness to other religions is prevalent. I think those biases, especially among conservative voters, would have had an effect.

  11. Awesome video Sam, it is really interesting how our I.S. inspiration stemmed from the 2020 election but we went completely different routes with it. Thanks for being a resource during I.S. Congrats!!!

    1. Thanks Stachal! I’m not a famous YouTuber like you but I’m glad you liked the video. It’s been a wild year but #CorralCohort forever!

  12. Sam: great video, you made this really enjoyable–kudos! Thanks for sharing your project with students in both of my classes this semester, they really enjoyed it and learned a lot. The Ferrara video really indicates the degree to which some candidates recognize the benefits of using one form of identity to discuss another in ways that appeal to wider audiences. Great job and congratulations!

  13. Hi Sam! Congrats on such an awesome project!

    What part of the IS process was your favorite? Every time I’ve seen you talk about your IS, you’ve seemed really excited about it!

    1. Thanks Riley! That’s funny you say that because I was worried I wasn’t passionate enough. My favorite part was definitely creating the survey and putting it on MTurk; even though it was painstaking to make, I felt like a real political scientist like the ones we’ve read in class. Super cool and good luck with yours next year!

  14. Congrats Sam! This is a super interesting topic and I love the real world example at the end. It is really cool to see how this project has developed since the fall!

  15. Congrats to a fellow Jr. IS TA! It’s been fun seeing your project come together.

  16. This is amazing work, Sam! I look forward to chatting about it more in our next meeting.

  17. What a fantastic IS. You’ve done some very important work here and addressed a borderline embarrassing gap in the literature. I look forward to seeing what other trails you’ll blaze in the future mate!

    1. Hey mate, embarrassing gap is a great way to describe it – thanks for checking it out!

  18. Sam, I’m so bummed that I missed your zoom call by a few minutes! This is such an excellent display of your work and I’m so glad to hear your results after learning about your project in our Junior IS class. Thanks for sharing & congratulations!

  19. Yay Sam! Fantastic job! This is a really interesting topic and I definitely hope more people contribute to this area of literature in the future.

  20. Congratulations! This is a really interesting topic and it is great to see more research into this.

  21. Crash Course – brilliant! This is really fascinating work, Sam. Thank you for sharing.

  22. Great work, Sam! Really focused and revealing. Thanks so much for contributing to this important scholarly conversation.

  23. Great presentation, Sam! This is such a good and timely topic. I really appreciated your discussion of the limitations and future questions. I think analyses such as this will become so important over the next 4-8 years. Congratulations!

  24. Sam, this topic/conversation is something I thought about during the 2020 primaries as well. It was the kind of thing that made me think someone should really do their IS on this. So I am so glad you did! You answered a lot of questions that were raised during that cultural moment and it is so cool. Great work, your project is so interesting!

    1. It’s great to hear that other people were interested and thinking through the same things – thanks!

  25. Sam, fascinating project and great, clear presentation of your research process. Good work & best wishes!

    1. Thanks, Kate! Whenever I make a presentation like this, I always think about the Streams from our class

  26. Hi Mr. Casey, Congrats on an excellent project and presentation. I loved your setup for the candidates with their subtle yet distinct differences, and your presenting style made your findings interesting and compelling. As an *old* Woo alum, I really appreciate the fact that an IS like this can even be done nowadays! (Although, being atheist, I have my own views on the use of religious rhetoric in politics… 🙂 ). Well done – best of luck!

  27. Congratulations, Sam! This was really interesting and I loved getting to see your results after hearing you talk about this project during JIS last fall. Props for that Crash Course style intro as well!

  28. SAM!
    This is amazing, as usual. I’m so glad to know you. Your research is timely, and has major implications for the future. I’m so proud of you!

  29. Congratulations Sam on your presentation and your important and very meaningful work. Bummed I wasn’t able to be there for the live portion. Thank you for all your service to the College and your leadership in creating Scot Council. Looking forward to seeing all you do in the future!

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