Huckabee and the Born Again Vote

In a previous post, Mark noted Huckabee’s similar performance among born again voters in Iowa (46 percent) and South Carolina (43 percent) and wondered if the religious differences among evangelicals haven’t been overstated. This is a good point: Evangelicals may be more alike than different in the context of a Republican primary.
But a look at all the contests to date suggests a more nuanced picture. Huckabee did get about the same proportion of the born-again vote in the Iowa caucuses and the South Carolina primary, but his margin was much larger in Iowa (27 percentage points over Romney) than in South Carolina (16 percentage points over McCain). In the New Hampshire primary, Huckabee and McCain tied among born-again voters (28 percent each), while Romney outpolled Huckabee among them in the Michigan primary (34 to 29 percent) and in the Nevada caucuses (39 to 22 percent).
Surely lots of factors influenced these results, but it is quite plausible that the kinds of evangelicals in these states mattered as well. Put another way, Huckabee may have a special access and appeal to certain kinds of evangelicals and does best where they are thickest on the ground. In the nomination contests, access may be more important than appeal. Due to the penurious state of his campaign, Huckabee has had to rely on grassroots networks among evangelicals and these networks may not reach all kinds of evangelicals equally well. The more diverse the evangelicals in a state, the harder they are to reach.

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