Recent Publications by Levi Allen

Author: Levi Allen

Levi Allen

Coping with Cross-Pressures: The Seamless Garment in Catholic Political Behavior

The Catholic Church is the largest religious denomination in the United States, yet political science lacks a comprehensive account of how the cross-pressures created by its policy prescriptions structure Catholic political behavior. Because Catholicism’s policy positions land on both sides of the contemporary partisan divide—its cultural concerns aligning with the Republican Party and its pro-social justice stance compatible with Democratic priorities—adherence to Church teaching creates electoral dilemmas for Catholic voters. By juxtaposing existing work on Catholic political behavior with the psychological literature on cognitive dissonance, we form expectations about Catholic adherence to Church policy prescriptions and its implications for electoral choice. We focus empirically on “Seamless Garment Catholics” (SGCs)—those Catholics who share the Church’s policy positions—finding that seamless-garment views are uncommon among Catholic voters, are more common among religiously committed and Latino Catholics, and are discouraged by ties to the two major parties. SGCs are more likely than other Catholics to employ psychological coping mechanisms, such as avoidance and selective perception, to reduce Church-inspired cognitive dissonance. Our research provides insight into an important electoral bloc that is cross-pressured uniquely by its faith commitments.  Read more here.


Trust in the American Political Parties and Support for Public Policy: Why Republicans Benefit from Political Distrust

While political trust is well researched by political scientists, little attention has been paid to the repercussions of citizens’ lack of trust in the major political parties. Political parties are the institutions responsible for forming governing coalitions and channelling the policy preferences of the majorities that elected them; thus, we hypothesise that distrust in the parties can have some unsavory consequences. Namely that trust can be weaponized by elites and lead to fervent opposition to the other party’s policy proposals. Using a unique dataset from the Pew Research Centre, and leveraging an innovative instrument, we analyze how support for public policy is affected by trusting the parties to govern ethically and honestly. Our results are heterogeneous.  Read more here.


Racial Attitudes and Political Preferences Among Black and White Evangelicals

How do racial group attitudes shape the political preferences of Black and white evangelicals? Scholarship has documented the relationship between religion and race in shaping political behavior and attitudes. However, less is known about how in-group and outgroup racial attitudes operate within religious populations. Using samples of Black and white evangelicals from the 2012 and 2016 American National Election Studies, we explore the role of racial identity centrality and racial resentment in determining evangelicals’ political preferences. While the role of Black and white identity among evangelicals is minimal, we find strong and consistent conservatizing effects for racial resentment. Together these findings suggest that the evangelical racial divide is not driven by Black evangelicals’ attachment to their racial identity, but that racial resentment may drive white evangelicals to more conservative political preferences.  Read more here.