Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name



Political Science

Degree Program

Political Science, MA

Committee Chair

Gainous, Jason

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Buckley, David

Committee Member

Buckley, David

Committee Member

Kleinkopf, Kathryn

Author's Keywords

Religion; partisanship; political participation; Nones; ideology; religious behavior


This thesis is based on the rise of the so-called “nones” in America - those who do not identify as religious - which has been a rapidly increasingly subgroup in the country. Along with the increase of the nones, religious belief and religious behavior have also been decreasing, showing a larger trend across the nation of a society detaching from religion. Nonetheless, religion in politics is still very visible. Additionally, another subgroup of America, the “leaners” - those who identify as Independents who lean towards Democrat or Republican - are a similar type of group to the nones in their unwillingness to identify with established groups in America. Thus, this thesis examines these two groups in two different ways- first, if nones have a higher chance of identifying as leaners, and if nones and leaners have a higher chance of not participating in civic engagement, which would show a general malaise towards American political culture. This thesis is divided into four chapters. The first chapter is a literature review divided into sections based on the various groups and phenomena occurring in America. The second chapter in the thesis is an examination of the datasets, basic metrics of the variables, and metrics of religiosity and religious behavior. The third chapter is a summation of the observational studies, which used regression and cross-tabulation, with tables and graphics of the relationships between the variables. The fourth chapter is a summarization of the results, explanation of methods, and topics for future research, especially for the nones and the leaners in different ethnic groups and religions.