I underestimated Gingrich’s evangelical support by a few points, but what’s interesting to note is that all the non-Mormons do better with both TPiers and evangelicals than they do with the totality of likely caucus-goers. Indeed, if there were no TPiers and evangelicals, Mitt Romney would be winning handily, but unfortunately for him 50 percent support the TP and 32 percent are evangelicals. (How many evangelicals are TPiers it doesn’t say.)
What are evangelicals doing supporting the likes of Gingrich? NYT’s Ross Douthat is dismayed, but not because he thinks conservative Christians have no business taking at face value Newt’s public displays of contrition and embrace of the conservative religious agenda. No, it’s because, well, what will the liberals think?
His candidacy isn’t a test of religious conservatives’ willingness to be
good, forgiving Christians. It’s a test of their ability to see their
cause through outsiders’ eyes, and to recognize what anointing a
thrice-married adulterer as the champion of “family values” would say to
the skeptical, the unconverted and above all to the young.
disconnected from what is happening on the ground in these early states.”
I’d still say, however, that Gingrich has a long way to go before he’s sealed the deal with the church folks in Ottumwa. Only half as many evangelicals count themselves likely caucus-goers as turned out in 2008, when nearly half of those who did supported Mike Huckabee. My back-of-the-envelope calculation is that one-third the number of evangelicals who backed Huckabee are now prepared to caucus for Gingrich. He’s going to have to work hard for the rest.
Update: On the other hand, SurveyUSA’s new Florida poll shows evangelicals flocking to Gingrich. Leading Romney overall 45-23, his margin among them is 53-20; among non-evangelicals, it’s 40-27. That’s two-and-a-half times the margin.