It was only with the legalization of abortion and, as important but less noted, the Supreme Court ruling against prayer in public schools - previously deemed to have been a decision left to local government - that religious voters began to organize as a self-conscious voting bloc. At which point, they became, and as 1980, 1984, 1988 and 2016 all suggest, a force to be reckoned with. Tally it up though, and for whatever assets they bring to bear, there is no doubt that religious voters have their countervailing disadvantages. For example, they tend to limit the women's vote by antagonizing self-identified feminists who might otherwise tend libertarian and thus comfortable in the GOP. That said, that is American politics. It is the artful balancing of coalitions. The measured trade-offs between conflicting and compatible interests. Measured in electoral terms, it is hard to argue, based on the election returns of the last 40 years, that religious voters hold the GOP back.
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