Beliefs Mark Silk: Spiritual Politics Opinion

Fueled by the Faithful

As anticipated, Mike Huckabee’s victory in the Iowa caucuses was fueled by support from religious conservatives. Huckabee received 46 percent of the votes of self-identified “born-again Christians” among the GOP caucus attenders, according to the National Election Pool “entrance” poll. In addition, he won 56 percent of those who said that “the candidate’s religious beliefs matter a great deal” and 44 percent of those who said the candidate “shares my values.”
The entrance polls found that 60 percent of the Republican caucus-goers were “born again or evangelical Christians,” which is much higher than the usual estimate that evangelicals make up 40 percent of Iowa Republicans. That hints that evangelical Republicans were considerably more motivated to turn out than their non-evangelical counterparts. But the figure must be viewed with some caution: Because of the limited number of religion questions on the entrance poll survey, these respondents may include other conservative Christians, such as traditional Catholics and Mainline Protestants—and even perhaps Mormons.
In one respect, the Huckabee victory resembles Pat Robertson’s second-place finish in Iowa in 1988: Both campaigns relied heavily on grassroots activity by evangelicals. In fact, Huckabee may have depended upon such “viral campaigning” to an even greater extent because the 1988 Robertson campaign was much better funded. But Huckabee had much broader support, winning first place with 34 percent of the ballots cast, compared to second place and 25 percent for Robertson in 1988. Huckabee won 76 of Iowa’s 99 counties, while Robertson won just 14.

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