Happily, the new NYT/CBS Iowa poll asked the evangelical/born question. Unhappily, the detailed array doesn’t offer crosstabs for preference by religion, and all the story tells us is that evangelicals prefer Gingrich to Romney by a 3-1 margin. Since Gingrich leads Romney overall by a margin of 3-2 (28 percent to 18 percent), it’s evident that Romney’s share of them is disproportionately small. If 30 percent chose Gingrich–and in a field with significant evangelical support for Bachmann, Perry, and Paul, that seems generous–it would leave only 10 percent favoring Romney.
Altogether, 32 percent of the likely GOP caucus-goers identified themselves as born-again or evangelical. That’s down from 39 percent in the NYT/CBS Iowa poll taken at this time four years ago. Then, Romney was leading Mike Huckabee 27 percent to 21 percent. At the caucuses two months later, Huckabee trounced Romney 35 percent to 25 percent because evangelicals turned out in droves, constituting fully 60 percent of all GOP caucus-goers. Huckabee wouldn’t have won without them.
This time around, evangelicals seem less interested in going to the caucuses and less likely to find a Huckabee to get behind. But if the candidacy of one of the born-agains is, like Gingrich’s, born again, all that could change. NYT/CBS found two-thirds of likely caucus-goers still unsettled in their choices. This one’s a long way from over.