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What are the boundaries for discussing a candidate's religion? In the 2008 and the 2012 presidential campaigns, the religious beliefs and practices of at least one of the candidates became a subject of intense scrutiny from the media and the public. To ascertain the limits of social discourse for religious out-group, we conducted a survey experiment on the 2012 CCES survey. We find strong evidence that norms of social discourse do not apply to all religions equally. Furthermore, the application of norms differs by political party because Democrats and Republicans express concerns about different religious groups. Overall, there is a large difference for Muslims when it comes to social discourse. Finally, individuals have internalized the norms because most of them are willing to sanction those who violate them, even if the norms on social discourse are not applied equally among American voters.
This article considers the hypothesis that the positive actions taken by members of Congress (MCs) influence citizens’ evaluations of them, their party, and Congress as an institution. We begin with a look at the available cross-sectional survey data on contact with legislators and legislator and institutional approval. Their legislative responsiveness appears to have a small spillover effect on institutions. However, when we employ a unique panel design that controls for prior levels of opinion and avoids recall bias, we find no evidence of spillover effects. Overall, we find that constituents who received a response from their own MC evaluate that representative more positively than those who did not receive a response, but legislator responsiveness does not predict evaluations of the MC’s political party or the Congress.