The term “values voters” has long described a specific portion of the American electorate. These voters are understood to express values that stem from their religious views, which are overwhelmingly Christian and socially conservative. In 2006, the movement made itself official by holding its first Value Voters Summit, an annual convention with the mission to “help inform and mobilize the bedrock values of traditional marriage, religious liberty, sanctity of life, and limited government that make America strong.” American media has followed suit, and it consistently refers to voters who hold these priorities by their preferred moniker “value voters.”
The term, however, is inaccurate and dishonest. To begin with, it assumes that only those who vote for the conservative Christian issues, such as eliminating legal abortion, opposing marriage equality for the LGBTQ community, and the rather peculiar definition of “religious liberty” expressed in the recent spate of religious freedom restoration acts, are voting based on their values.