White evangelicals don’t hate Romney

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If I were on Team Romney, I’d be fairly heartened by the latest Pew survey on religion and politics. It’s true that white evangelicals are disproportionately less likely to prefer our guy, but not by a very large margin–17 percent of them as opposed to 23 percent of the GOP primary electorate as a whole. Put another way, if white evangelicals preferred him at the same rate as mainline Protestants and white Catholics–the two other major GOP religious groupings–he’d be polling at no higher than 26 percent.

In the entire field, the evangelical vote is sufficiently dispersed that Herman Cain, with the plurality, garners only 26 percent and Newt Gingrich only 19. Compare that to, say, the 2008 South Carolina primary, which John McCain won with 33 percent of the vote, just ahead of Mike Huckabee’s 30 percent. Evangelicals, constituting 60 percent of the vote, went 43 percent for Huckabee, 27 percent for McCain, and only 11 percent for Romney, who finished a poor fourth overall. Or consider the Tennessee primary, which Huckabee captured with 34 percent of the vote, followed by McCain at 32 percent and Romney at 24 percent. Evangelicals, constituting 73 percent of voters, went 43 percent for Huckabee, 27 percent for McCain, and 20 percent for Romney.

Using regression analysis, John Green and I were able to show that Romney’s weakness among evangelical voters cost him the GOP nomination in 2008. This time around, he seems to be doing a much better job of keeping the “evangelical gap” with his competitors down. And based on the Pew numbers, I’d say the chances of his continuing to do so are pretty good.

As of the second week in November, evangelicals as a whole (not just Republicans) actually said they preferred Romney to President Obama by a few points more than they preferred Gingrich, Cain, or Perry to the president. And more of them (46 percent) had a favorable view of Romney than of either Cain (45 percent) or Perry (42 percent). The only candidate who beat him out on favorability was Gingrich, and by just four points. So if Romney can get his aggregate number out of the mid-20s, the likelihood is that it will include a sufficient number of evangelicals to enable him to capture the nomination.

  • Wren

    Our news media is so bias that the public must read between the lines to get the facts, but here are some:
    In the U.S. during 2011 there were over 1 million forclosures, over 1.6 million bankruptcies, over 47 million on food stamps and over 25 million on unemployment. If we have savings we can’t get a fair return on the accounts while our drugs and health care costs are going through the ceiling.
    As a nation we have over 116.5 trillon dollars in unfunded liabilities, are in debt over 15 trillion dollars, and to pay off that debt it would take 48 thousand dollars from each man woman and child.
    But we can’t even think about paying off that debt, much less try to strengthen the economy because the Senate is controlled by the Democrats who don’t want to stop spending while the House of Represenatives has a Republican majority who don’t want to raise taxes, resulting in a gridlock at every level.
    Since our borders are open to terrorists and our elected officials can’t or won’t fix things we would live somewhere else but even that plan is in question because Latin America is full of drug cartels, Europe is broke, Africa is starving and the Middle East is out of control.
    Evangelicals want a man of common sense and conservative values. Mitt Romney

  • Felapton

    Very few people will ever support Mitt Romney for his charisma. His attractive qualities are brain power, experience and competence. At this point, the election is merely a slightly-stupider-than-average reality TV show. In six months, when it turns into a decision about who should run the executive branch of the world’s only superpower, everybody will forget all about Perry, Cain, Bachmann and Paul, and Romney’s poll numbers will soar.
    There are two ways to get out the Republican base. One is to put somebody they really like on the Republican ticket. The other is to put somebody they absolutely despise on the Democratic ticket.