God save this broken land: The efficacy of closed-circuit voter targeting in a U.K. election


Recent research in the United States has found candidates for elected office are able to use a rhetorical form of closed-circuit communication with evangelical Protestants-God Talk-that communicates valuable political information without alerting other constituencies. Close observation of the 2010 parliamentary elections in the United Kingdom (U.K.) uncovered what appeared to be a form of God Talk in use by David Cameron and the Conservative Party, especially the use of broken to describe the state of Britain. Thus, we assess whether God Talk is an efficacious communication strategy in the U.K. using an experiment that selectively exposes participants to God Talk statements. The mixed results suggest that some forms of God Talk are better than others in conveying to U.K. evangelicals that a candidate is conservative and religious without triggering the same associations by non-evangelical voters. We close with a discussion of the normative impact of such communication strategies.


Political Science

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Politics and Religion