I have to apologize because, as a junior academic, I am not citing sources, a gross lack of proper conduct. I must say that if I do see it proper, I will write a better more informed and documented piece.
With that said, damn you Ronald Reagan! Regardless of your political affiliations, you must admit that Reagan's likeability, and hence vote-getting appeal, was the strength of his two presidential campaigns. One of his strong and growing constituents of his time was the evangelical vote, a much more dormant voting group. While his election was not the impetus for awakening the evangelical vote--Roe v. Wade did that--his campaign was the first to capitalize on the political agency of the evangelical vote. And while I feel that the evangelical vote was far more conservative that Reagan was personally, it was his presidential campaign that gave a growing voice to this voting group. Think the source and root of the tea party as a political entity.
We are now seeing the repercussions now, as more conservative evangelical political leaders make headlines at local, state, and federal levels of government, as they lead the legislative, executive, and judicial push for mysoginistic (anti-abortion, womens reproductive health bills and laws), discriminatory (anti-gay marriage, legalizing discrimination, Arizona-style immigration policies), anti-health care reform, anti-internet neutrality (because the internet represents sin and heathenism), and the promotion of white, evangelical model of a good American (in the singular).
Reagan didn't wake this beast. No, but he gave it a good, hearty breakfast for a long day of ideological rampage on the diversity and its unique quality of peoples navigating their ways in agreement and in contention with other peoples.