Showing posts with label evangelicals. Show all posts
Showing posts with label evangelicals. Show all posts

Monday, January 23, 2012

Where were the evangelicals in So. Carolina when Santorum needed them?

Who knows?
Former senator Rick Santorum of Penn. finally won the Iowa caucuses over Mitt Romney with 34 votes when the folks in Iowa did their final count.  Sounds reasonable to me considering the high evangelical population in the state but also appears much too close when you consider Romney is a Mormon.  Like JFK’s Catholicism in the November 1960 election for President, Romney’s Mormonism has been a barrier for the religious right from the beginning.

Apparently there were missing votes in eight Iowa precincts that for some reason or other were never received and counted, blamed on the “state’s old-fashioned primary process.”  The missing votes were spread across five Iowa counties and in 2008 that area accounted for a total of 298 votes.  In one such precinct GOP chair, Karen Zander, said about the volunteers, “They had no training.  They didn’t know what they were doing.”

Pretty pathetic for an election that screams to the rest of the country each year that they are the first, and one of the most important votes in the primaries leading up to the primary nomination.  I have never understood the importance of these caucuses, and maybe the rest of the country and future presidential candidates will come to agree after this year.  But Romney’s close second does speak well of evangelical voters in that they were apparently able to put religion aside and vote with reason.

Did the same situation occur in South Carolina?  In the 2008 Republican primary there, 60 percent of the Republican voters defined themselves as “born-again-Christians,” compared with a national average of 44 percent.  Another 69 percent said that the candidate’s religious beliefs mattered in their vote.  In 2012 B-A-Cs jumped to 65 percent.  Also in 2012, religious beliefs of the candidates differed in that 59 percent said they mattered a great deal or somewhat, followed by 19 percent who said not much, 21 percent not at all.

In 2012, 97 percent were worried about the economy in South Carolina; 63 percent thought it was the most important issue compared to 8 percent for abortion.  However, 64 percent did think abortion should be illegal.  Winner Newt Gingrich was helped by the fact that 64 percent of So. Carolinians support the Tea Party and he was apparently able to garner their vote according to exit polls.  But it still isn’t clear if Gingrich can win TPers in less conservative states.

You can see the entire So. Carolina CNN Election Poll results here.

This is all somewhat perplexing since a meeting of the Christian conservative leaders in January of this year in Texas voted to back Rick Santorum, reported Family Research Council president Tony Perkins.  Some of those involved were Focus on the Family founder James Dobson, Perkins, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference president Rev. Samuel Rodriguez and former presidential candidate Gary Bauer.  Members of the media were not allowed at the meeting. 

Newt Gingrich
Although the Christian conservative majority vote was for Santorum, individuals voted for other candidates, such as American Family Assn. founder Don Wildmon who voted for Gingrich.  For those of you who haven’t heard, Gingrich took So. Carolina with 41 percent of the vote, followed by Romney with 27 percent and Santorum trailing with 17 percent.  The winner of the So. Carolina primary has gone on to win the GOP nomination in each election since 1980.

The big question is, if Newt Gingrich wins the Republican nomination, will he be a more formidable candidate against President Barack Obama than Mitt Romney?  He is an excellent debater, but so is Obama.  Gingrich has personal life baggage with his ex-wife that doesn’t play well with religious conservatives where the President is squeaky-clean.  Both men are highly intelligent and there is no doubt in the separation of ideologies.

Like they have been saying for over a year now, 2012 is going to be one hell of an election!

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