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March 7, 2012

Super Tuesday Analysis: Romney Does Poorly Where Evangelicals Are GOP Majority

The GOP candidate wins much-needed states, but he is likely to face more resistance in the south.

Mitt Romney won six out of the 11 Super Tuesday primaries, victories that followed a regional pattern from past primaries. Romney has performed best in New England and the mountain west but he has done poorly in the Midwest and even worse in the southern states. In a closely watched state, Romney edged out Rick Santorum by one percentage point in Ohio. Santorum won in Tennessee, Oklahoma, and North Dakota, and Newt Gingrich picked up a win in Georgia.

Beneath the Republicans’ regional split is Romney's failure in states where the Republican base is made up of socially conservative evangelical voters. In New England and other states where evangelicals are in the minority, Romney has been able to win over the lion share of the evangelical vote. The result is a double-whammy for Romney: in states where the GOP is made up of more evangelicals, evangelicals are less likely to vote for Romney.

In Vermont, Romney received four out of every 10 evangelical votes and performed similarly among evangelicals in Nevada. In both cases, evangelicals make up less than a third of Republican voters. In New Hampshire, where there were many more candidates, Romney received about a third of evangelical voters, equal to Santorum's share. However, in states like South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, and Oklahoma, where evangelicals make up a majority of GOP voters, Romney received less than 30 percent of votes from evangelicals.

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After Tuesday’s primaries, Gingrich looked forward to more contests in the south. Calling himself the proverbial “tortoise” in the race, Gingrich told supporters, “Tomorrow will bring another chapter in the race for the nomination. It’s a chapter for the fight for the souls of the Republican Party. It’s a chapter in the fight for the nature of America.”

Romney focused on his victories in a speech to supporters Tuesday, where he said, “We’re counting up the delegates, and that looks good. And we’re counting down the days until November, and that looks even better.”

While Romney may not have the Republican base behind him yet, he excels in at least one area: money.

Santorum pointed to Romney's campaign spending as a sign of Santorum's resilience. “We went up against enormous odds, not just here in the state of Ohio, where who knows how much we were outspent, but in every state,” he told a crowd after Tuesday’s results came in. “There wasn’t a single state in the list that I just gave you where I spent more money than the people I was able to defeat to win that state. In every case, we overcame the odds.”

Romney faces more difficult contests next week. Kansas’ caucuses will take place on Saturday and on Tuesday he faces primaries in Alabama and Mississippi. In each state, evangelicals will likely make up a large majority of Republican voters. In the coming weeks, Romney will face more challenges in Missouri, Louisiana, and Wisconsin. April 24, however, should be a strong day for Romney as he will see contests in Connecticut, Delaware, New York, and Rhode Island, where evangelicals make up less of the Republican vote than they do in southern states. That day, Romney will also battle Santorum for his hometown votes in Pennsylvania.

Comments

With few exceptions, this bodes little ill for Romney as long as he wins the GOP nomination (looking likelier by the day). Almost all the states where Evangelicals are electorally significant are still more likely to go for Romney than Obama. Some Southern states may be less of a sure thing for a Mormon who could get elected to office in Massachusetts, but their vote is still "likely/probably Republican," and Romney may also have a better chance at getting other swing states like Ohio and Michigan than a more "traditional" Republican candidate.

If Romney gets 30% of the "evangelical" vote and there are 4 contenders in the race, he is doing a little better than even. Even with 4 contenders would be 25% so that may be enough for him to win the nomination.
I find it odd that there is almost no discussion in this magazine about the economic policies being being promoted by the various candidates for the republican nomination. Most of the articles that I have read elsewhere indicate that most of the candidates subscribe to an economic policy made popular by Milton Friedman, who also claimed not to believe in God. How come so many evangelicals are following such economic philosophies? Friedman's ideas, promoted by organizations such as the American Enterprise and the Cato Institutes, are not democratic but mostly aristocratic. He seems to favor an economic elite. It is hard to see why evangelicals are so enamored of this model.

Will Evangelicals or anyone that believes in the Bible ever hold politicians accountable for their outrageous lies? Politicians have been successfully fooling voters and making a mockery of Christianity for many years.

Even when the outrageous lies are pointed out far too many Christians refuse to acknowledge the truth. Do a check at WWW.PolitiFact.com

Linda, you asked an very important question, one that has been going through my mind for many months. When we read the list of evangelicals who say they are supporting the candidates, then listen to what those candidates have been saying, I seriously wonder whether "evangelical leaders" have stopped reading the Bible and taken instead a pledge to Grover Norquist or Rush Limbaugh. These are some of the people recognized as echoing the republican perspective and point of view. But the "evangelical leaders" are strangely silent on what their pronouncements are. The non-christian believes that church leaders are all republicans and believe the things that these republicans have been putting out in the media. Recently there was an article about remembering Francis Schaeffer but when I read what Francis Schaeffer wrote in "The Church At The End of the Twentieth Century" and "The Church Before The Watching World" I think we have forgotten the essence of the message of Francis Schaeffer. In "The Mark Of The Christian" Schaeffer wrote that if the church is not demonstrating love among its members, then the world has the right to question its genuineness. We hear little about the problems of the poor who had a special place in the concern of the Lord we evangelicals claim to follow.

@Welby: I think it's only fair to point out that many liberals, Democrats, and so-called "progressive" Christians are also following economic policies made popular by an individual who did not believe in God. His name was Karl Marx.

Julie, you made a statements made by many republicans without showing a shred of evidence for that statement. The economists that many you may think follow Karl Marx actually follow Keynesian economics. I have seen no evidence that the people you mention are actually following Karl Marx. However, I mentioned some writings of Francis Schaeffer and I have not heard anyone comment on what he said in the books I mentioned about community. He cited the lack of community as a major stumbling block to the world looking at the church and trying to understand how its sayings reflect the person that they claim to follow. Consider what Mr. Schaeffer said about christian cummunity and the imperative for the church to exhibit some semblance of that community as articulated when Jesus said "By this shall men know that you are my disciples, that you love one another." Christians need to discuss ideas and try to understand, rather than try to pigeonhole people. In many cases there is a lot of nuance to what statements really mean. Another recommendation is "How To Read Slowly" by James Sire, also "The Universe Next Door" by the same author, published by InterVarsity Press many years ago but quite useful in understanding the modern world from a christian perspective.

While we are on the subject of book recommendations, here is one I heartily recommend: "Idols for Destruction: The Conflict of Christian Faith and American Culture," by Herbert Schlossberg.

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