The 2018 Georgia Political Science Association’s annual meeting was held in Savannah from November 8-10, marking the 50th anniversary of the organization, which emerged immediately following the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s. The country, much like the organization, has undergone many transformations over the last half century, experiencing seismic shifts in leadership and policy, both foreign and domestic. Assessing how have these changes affected politics and society and to what extent can history inform our present was the theme of the November meeting.
Two East Georgia State College professors, Dr. Lee Cheek, and Dr. Tom Caiazzo, presented research on the voting patterns of religious groups in American politics. Other panelists presented papers on related themes, although Steve Millies’s recent book, Good Intentions: A History of Catholic Voters' Road from Roe to Trump (Liturgical Press, 2018) was a centerpiece of the discussion. Professor Millies also served on the panel.
Among the main issues that emerged from the presentation of research was the role Catholic political and social theory and political practice assumed in influencing American Catholic patterns of voting in the last twenty years.
As Dr. Caiazzo noted in his summation of the research, “Catholics are often described as the ‘swing vote’ in American politics, and political scientists are often unable to explain Catholic voting trends. Given the support that was provided to Donald J. Trump's unexpected 2016 presidential victory by Catholic voters, the need for more analysis has never been greater.”
The panel will continue to examine the Trump victory in the context of a nearly half-century long evolution of religious group voting at next year’s meeting.