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December 31st, 2011
10:00 PM ET

Why do Iowa’s evangelicals wield so much political clout?

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

Des Moines, Iowa (CNN) – At first blush, it’s just another standard-issue political rally.

Inside Mitt Romney’s Iowa headquarters – a former Blockbuster store on a commercial strip outside downtown – Romney and his wife, Ann, are introduced by former presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty and his wife, Mary.

“It is an honor to be supporting Gov. Romney and Ann,” Mary Pawlenty tells the crowd of a couple hundred, a silver cross dangling from her neck. “They are good people, they share our values – these are people that we are delighted to call friends.”

How Mitt Romney's faith shaped him

A few moments later, Mitt Romney mentions his five sons and hands his microphone to 36-year-old Josh, who calls his dad “my hero.”

“He taught me my great love for this country,” Josh says, “and my great love for my family.”

Sounds like typical political posturing, right? Many Americans wouldn’t give such gestures a second thought.

But experts on religion and politics say the message to one particular subculture – evangelical Iowans – is clear: Mitt Romney may be Mormon, but he shares evangelical Christian values, including a rock-solid commitment to family, and counts high-profile evangelicals like the Pawlentys as friends and supporters.

“It’s less an attempt to create a trust among evangelicals and more to defuse a distrust,” says Dennis Goldford, a political science professor at Drake University in Des Moines.

Mark DeMoss, an evangelical PR specialist and Romney campaign adviser, puts a more positive spin on the strategy: “A number of evangelicals are really enthusiastic about him and have endorsed Romney, and for the same reason that I like him – he shares my values.”

Romney’s Mormonism and his past social liberalism have fed doubts about him among some evangelicals. But with the first-in-the nation Iowa caucuses just days away, the former Massachusetts governor is hardly the only candidate honing his message for evangelical Iowans.

Newt Gingrich has met with hundreds of evangelical pastors in the state, talking policy but also about past marital infidelity, which many Christians consider a sin. Rick Perry has given Sunday morning testimonials from the pulpits of Hawkeye State megachurches.

Newt Gingrich's faith narrative

And Rick Santorum, who is riding a late-breaking surge in Iowa polls, and Michele Bachmann have all but staked their candidacies on winning big among evangelical Iowans, claiming to be more conservative than the rest of the Republican field on hot-button issues like abortion and gay marriage.

How did one faith-based demographic come to wield so much power? The answer is basic math – and passion.

“Relatively few people participate in the Iowa caucuses, so it’s ideal for a group of highly committed activists to have a big influence,” says John Green, an expert on religion and politics at the University of Akron.

Unlike conventional primaries, Iowa’s caucuses, scheduled for Tuesday, require voters to attend what are essentially community get-togethers at which participants can speak publicly for candidates. It’s more cumbersome than pulling a lever in a voting both, and a relatively small minority of registered voters attend.

“Evangelical churches and interest groups have been able to generate that kind of activity,” Green says. “They’ve been active in Iowa for a long time, so a tradition has taken hold there.”

Rick Perry's long faith journey culminates in White House run

In 2008, evangelical Christians accounted for 60% of Republican caucus-goers. With just 119,000 Iowans participating in the GOP caucuses that year – high by historical standards – the bloc helped propel Mike Huckabee, a former Baptist preacher, to a first-place finish.

In previous election cycles, evangelicals accounted for a more modest share of the Iowa GOP electorate, but their ranks have nonetheless hovered around 40%.

That makes evangelical Iowans unusually influential even by the standards of the national Republican Party, in which evangelical Christians have constituted the base since Ronald Reagan was elected president.

From Carter to Bush

Despite the modern GOP-evangelical alliance, it was a Democrat who first tapped that power base in Iowa.

Jimmy Carter was the first presidential candidate in modern American politics to call himself a born-again Christian, and he spent long stretches in Iowa during his 1976 campaign. Finishing ahead of every candidate (“uncommitted” took first) there lent early momentum to a candidate who’d been virtually unknown nationally.

Before Carter, says Drake’s Dennis Goldford, “evangelicals didn’t participate in politics because it was seen as this “worldy, corrupting, evil thing, and you stayed away from it.”

Modern American evangelicalism emerged in the late 19th century, built around biblical literalism and an emphasis on human sin and redemption. The movement was largely a reaction to Darwin’s theory of evolution and questions that modern science raised about biblical authority.

The 1925 Scopes Monkey Trial, which struck down the teaching of evolution in Tennessee schools, turned the evangelical movement into a national laughingstock and provoked an evangelical retreat from politics.

Carter, a Baptist Sunday School teacher, brought them back together.

But many evangelicals wound up feeling betrayed by Carter’s liberalism, and Reagan’s courtship of first-generation Christian right leaders, as well as his conservative rhetoric on issues like abortion, sent hordes of evangelicals to the GOP.

In 1988, televangelist Pat Robertson finished second in the Iowa caucuses, ahead of then-Vice President George H.W. Bush, putting Iowa evangelical power on the national map. Says Goldford: “They came out of nowhere.”

In the 1990s, with the rise of Robertson’s Christian Coalition, many evangelicals landed positions of power within the Iowa Republican Party. Catholics and other religious believers also became more active in the state GOP, raising the profile of issues like abortion and marriage, but they could not compete in number with the evangelicals.

Since then, Republican presidential hopefuls have tailored their messages to evangelical Iowans. When George W. Bush was asked which political philosopher had most influenced him in a debate before the 2000 Iowa caucus, he responded “Jesus.”

A diluted role?

In this election cycle, all the Republican presidential candidates have spoken deeply about their personal Christian faith while in Iowa, except for Romney and Jon Huntsman, both Mormons.

After spending considerable time in Iowa in 2008, much of it courting evangelicals, Romney placed second, far behind Huckabee. This time around, Romney has spent much less time here, skipping some major evangelical cattle calls and unleashing the ire of some powerful Christian activists.

Huntsman, for his part, has ignored Iowa to focus his efforts on New Hampshire, which votes a week after Iowa.

A CNN/TIME/ORC poll last week found that Romney had the support of 16% of likely evangelical caucus-goers in Iowa, compared to 22% for Santorum, 18% for Ron Paul and 14% for Gingrich, who had much higher evangelical support in earlier Iowa polls.

“Romney’s campaign has a very deliberate plan to snub social conservatives,” says Steve Scheffler, president of the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition, a key conservative group in the state.

“If Romney becomes the nominee,” Scheffler says, “95% of his volunteers will need to come from the conservative base. If he’s dissed them through the caucus process, it’s going to be challenging for him to get these people to campaign for him to become president.”

Scheffler is a testament to evangelical influence in the caucuses; his group has hosted caucus trainings in churches across the state in the run-up to January 3.

Most evangelical leaders insist their skepticism of Romney is born of his past social liberalism. But some in-the-pews evangelicals, interviewed at a pair of Iowa evangelical churches on a recent Sunday, admitted to an anti-Mormon bias.

Many believe that Mormons – who, unlike traditional Christians, believe in holy books beyond the Bible and practice customs like posthumous proxy baptism – belong to a cult.

“A growing number of people are afraid to vote for him because they are not sure how his Mormonism will affect his presidency,” says Jonathan Meyer, a pastor at Grace Church in Des Moines. “And because he doesn’t talk about that.”

Other Iowan evangelicals say Romney’s Mormonism isn’t a deal-breaker. “We talked about it in my Bible study,” says Patrick Finnegan, 27, who attended a recent Romney rally wearing a blue “Romney supporter” T-Shirt. “And we said as long as he believes in Jesus Christ, and as long as he’s not an atheist, we support him. I just want someone who shares my belief in a higher power.”

Other Iowa evangelicals echoed that view, calling Romney a Christian.

One complicating factor in the evangelical equation is that the main alternative to Romney as a viable national candidate appears to be Gingrich. The former House speaker has strenuously courted evangelical leaders and aided last year’s successful campaign to unseat three pro-gay marriage Iowa judges but has admitted to personal moral failings, including an affair with his current wife while married to his second wife.

Many Iowa evangelicals say Gingrich has redeemed himself. “I appreciate Newt acknowledging that he needs forgiveness,” says Meyer, who speaks with a Bible tucked under his arm in the Christmas-tree bedecked lobby of Grace Church. “He didn’t have to address that.”

Others are less enthusiastic.

“There’s not enough attention being paid to Newt’s fall from grace,” says Beverly McLinden, 55, an Iowa evangelical who works in association management and attended the Des Moines Romney rally. “Romney’s family exemplifies family values, and you can’t discount that just because he’s a Mormon.”

Evangelical angst over Gingrich and Romney has helped fuel Santorum’s surge, with the former Pennsylvania senator receiving 16% support in the most recent CNN poll, putting him in third place, behind Romney and Paul.

No candidate had even 25% of evangelical support in the most recent poll, raising the possibility that Iowa’s evangelical vote will be pretty diluted this week.

“This vote is terribly critical,” says Ralph Reed, who leads the national Faith and Freedom Coalition. “But the irony is that with this many candidates all appealing to this constituency at the same time, the vote is likely to get spread out.”

‘Democrats are trying to strip God out’

If Iowa’s evangelicals disagree on whom to support, interviews with dozens of them reveal a striking consistency in the role their faith plays in shaping that decision.

Even as the economy and jobs consistently rank as top issues in the presidential race, many evangelical Iowans say they’re weighing the personal faith of the candidates and that they still care about social issues and honoring the country’s Judeo-Christian heritage.

“Most of the folks I’ve dealt with in the evangelical community always care about the economy and spending and taxes,” says Santorum, who has spent most of his time as a presidential candidate campaigning in Iowa. “But the priority issues that have always been up front are the moral, cultural issues.”

“They want to make sure that it’s someone who is comfortable in their skin to fight those battles,” says Santorum, a devout Catholic who has nonetheless landed on TIME’s list of America’s 25 most influential evangelicals.

Gail Johnson, a dentist’s assistant who was heading into Grace Church – a megachurch whose sanctuary is hung with giant Christmas wreaths and a back-lit cross – agrees.

“I have no clue who I’m voting for, other than that it will be a Republican,” she says. “Smaller government and no abortion are the two big issues for me.”

Grace Church is the kind of congregation where worshippers take notes during the sermon, which on this Sunday focused on the importance of believing in Jesus’ virgin birth.

Sue Cornelius-Leibrand, an accountant who also attends Grace, says she would prefer “a president who believes in the same things that I do.”
“I know they won’t agree with everything,” says Cornelius-Leibrand, who wears diamond earrings and carries a stylish black bag and a leather-bound bible with a pink strap. “But the main things, like life beginning at conception and marriage between a man and a wife.”

Many evangelicals cite what they see as religion’s shrinking role in the public square as another concern. “This nation was founded on Christian ethics and that’s what made the country great,” says Sue Raibikis, a pharmaceutical sales rep and an evangelical Christian who attended the Romney rally. “Democrats are trying to strip God out of the country.”

Republican candidates are addressing those concerns in different ways. Gingrich talks about stopping a secular war on religion. Perry gives Christian testimony, telling worshippers at Des Moines’ Point of Grace Church on a recent Sunday: “There’s a hole in one’s heart that can only be filled by one thing.”

Santorum and Bachmann are emphasizing their voting records on hot buttons like abortion, saying other candidates just talk about these issues.

The jockeying introduced a major shot of religion to the presidential race from the very start, a contribution that some political experts argue threatens to curtail Iowa’s influence in the nominating process.

“The strength of evangelicals in the Iowa Republican Party could turn into a weakness if they are seen as so strong that Republicans around the nation begin to discount the results of the caucuses,” says Drake University’s Goldford.

“You’re beginning to see some of that – McCain chose not to campaign here last time,” he says. “And Romney hasn’t been here much this time.”

The state’s track record for picking Republican winners is mixed. Huckabee, for instance, won big in Iowa but lost his party’s nomination. But George W. Bush and Bob Dole won Iowa and went on to the GOP nomination.

The Republican primary calendar, if nothing else, will strengthen the influence of Iowa and its evangelicals, argues Green, of the University of Akron.

New Hampshire, with fewer evangelicals, follows Iowa in primary voting. But the next in line is South Carolina, where 60% of voters in the last Republican presidential primary identified as evangelicals.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Christianity • Iowa • Michele Bachmann • Mike Huckabee • Mitt Romney • Newt Gingrich • Politics • Rick Santorum

soundoff (837 Responses)
  1. Ranger

    Faith & religion is fine, but I am afraid that the people who profess strong religious convictions are merely puppets for their pastors who essentially tell them who to vote for.

    January 1, 2012 at 10:47 am |
    • t keller

      Christian beliefs are a good indicator of a candidate's character. But it is critical that the people we elect are those most likely to save our economy and our way of life, not just agree with our views on social issues.

      January 1, 2012 at 11:16 am |
  2. pooch

    front page on cnn: "What do Iowa evangelicals have so much political clout?"

    do you mean "why", cnn? if you can't even get the teaser right yu probably had a tough time with the article, too.

    January 1, 2012 at 10:46 am |
  3. southside nike

    After seeing all the evidence to the contrary, anyone who beliefes the earth is about 6000 years old should not be allowed to vote!

    January 1, 2012 at 10:43 am |
  4. Jake

    I wonder which version of history is truly right. Did our founding fathers come to this country to seek freedom, religious persecution, and to form a government in which state and religion is seperate and distinct and neither encroaches on either one, or....is history totally wrong and these "founding fathers" come here because they were thrown out of their countries like common criminals and put on boats and sent on their way to wherever, much like Castro did when he emptied his jails and mental hospitals, sending them to America, or....did they come here under pretense of being persecuted so that they can unleash the Bachmanns, the Santorums, the Perrys, the Romneys, the religious nutjobs, and others like Palin among us? All claiming that either they talk to God and God talks to them, or that their religious beliefs are the only valid ones, and that our government needs their brand of religion to function. Gee...I'm starting to think that it's a combination of one and two, bunch of misfits thrown out of their country (criminals and nutjobs), and religious knuckleheads. So much for "they came here to seek freedom. Not what I see today, more like less freedom...get in line, pray to our God, we know what's best for you. Yeah...that's who came on those boats. lol.

    January 1, 2012 at 10:43 am |
    • sdabby

      I agree with you - the evangelists are scary. Their belief is that their religious viewpoint is the only valid one and that the non believers are doomed. Just like the Islamists and the ultra-religious orthodox Jews who are equally scary.

      January 1, 2012 at 11:02 am |
    • Jake

      Just wondering...when I die, how many "virgins" do I get? Do Christinas get more than Muslins or less? Or maybe none. And who are these "virgins", are they rejects from weight watchers or wannabees from Housewives of whatever? So many questions, too little answers.

      January 1, 2012 at 11:07 am |
  5. Lilarose1941

    Well, let's hope all the anti-abortion folks don't have a loved one–wife, mother, cousin–or a friend who gets eclampsia (one in ten pregnancies involved pre-eclampsia or eclampsia) and have to terminate a pregnancy to save the mother's life. Eclampsia usually occurs around 33 or 34 weeks into a pregnancy and a resulting baby might weight 1 lb or more. It is possible to save them, but it is a major struggle and only a few survive. Read more about eclampsia on a web search and EDUCATE yourselves before you make bold statements about no abortions like the good Dr. Ron Paul. I wonder how many of his patients died from eclampsia.

    January 1, 2012 at 10:42 am |
    • falconco

      Thank you! Abortion issues and religion have NO place in politics!

      January 1, 2012 at 10:50 am |
  6. Jammaster

    I don't see how anyone can be evangelical (a 100% literal interpretation of the bible including the Genesis story and Noah's ark) with all of our modern sophistication and knowledge. It's fine to be religious but how can societies move ahead if everyone thinks all of the answers are in these books? If you are evangelical, ask yourself these questions: How could mankind come from just Adam and Eve without incest occurring? How come these miracles occurred during biblical times but don't happen now? Knowing about all of the billions of species worldwide, how could the biblical flood story possibly be true? How come there is not one sentence in the Bible that could not have been known by a mortal man at that time? Something that would really help mankind like explaining how diseases are causes by germs etc? If you can't develop a satisfactory answer to these questions, then the Bible should not be taken so literally.

    January 1, 2012 at 10:42 am |
    • Lilarose1941

      America is not going to move forward. We need to keep religion out of politics, and if we don't, we will fall a lot farther than we have the past decade into chaos, disorder, economic ruin due to bad choices of who our leaders will be. I think of some of the companies who have moved jobs overseas. They didn't let religion get in the way of screwing workers and the buying public and they will continue to do so. Bet they all go to church on Sunday and Wednesday night.

      January 1, 2012 at 10:46 am |
  7. bigfoot

    2012. The last year of our Lord.

    January 1, 2012 at 10:40 am |
  8. Jaychou

    Happy holiday~ Its great to find others who are as tall as me and share similar experiences! ->Bigtalls. C Q M <- is a fun place to meet other tall people online. It makes the world seem smaller! – Free to browse and join for serious relationship. You dont have to be tall, but you can meet one.

    January 1, 2012 at 10:40 am |
  9. Queen Lattice

    QUOTE: “I have no clue who I’m voting for, other than that it will be a Republican,” she says. “Smaller government and no abortion are the two big issues for me.”

    and QUOTE: Sue Cornelius-Leibrand, an accountant who also attends Grace, says she would prefer “a president who believes in the same things that I do. I know they won’t agree with everything,” says Cornelius-Leibrand, who wears diamond earrings and carries a stylish black bag and a leather-bound bible with a pink strap. “But the main things, like life beginning at conception and marriage between a man and a wife.”

    SOMEBODY PLEASE SAVE US ALL FROM THE TYRANNY OF RELIGIOUS IDIOTS!!!!!

    January 1, 2012 at 10:38 am |
    • paintpaintpaint

      No kidding. Talk about being 'thought-less'.

      January 1, 2012 at 10:52 am |
  10. mariosphere

    What a sad day in the history of our nation, that a discredited religion —which rose to oppose science— has so much political clout. Our politics are the laughingstock of the world.

    Reason will prevail, though. Some day, not too far off in the future, sensible Americans will reassert themselves and cast off religion-guided politics once and for all.

    January 1, 2012 at 10:37 am |
  11. effelbee

    The Iowa caucuses are a meaningless group of local meetings by true believers with absolutely no effect on eventual delegate selection for the state. Instead, we get GOP candidates trying to outdo each other in nut job conservatism way outside the mainstream-anti-everythingness. Of course, this is not Christian, and Jesus would be appalled by what this nonsense produces by way of moral and ethical positions from the candidates.

    January 1, 2012 at 10:36 am |
    • GoRemote

      Obama won the Iowa Caucuses..........

      January 1, 2012 at 10:40 am |
  12. Lisa

    Thank you God for a new year!! You reign, You reign, You reign!!!

    January 1, 2012 at 10:35 am |
    • TruthPrevails

      You're delusional! You're delusional! You're delusional!! Thanking an unproven deity for anything is futile!

      January 1, 2012 at 10:49 am |
  13. Queen Lattice

    I will never, ever, ever, ever vote for someone who brings their religion into their candidacy.

    Therefore, I will never, ever, ever vote. Sad.

    January 1, 2012 at 10:34 am |
    • drewA

      I would never vote for a candidate who is so illogical, unreasonable, anti-science, intolerant, and judgemental as these Christian-righters clearly seem to be. Nor do I want someone making critical decisions who is going seek answers by looking skyward and calling for some instructional epiphany from a non-existent supernatural being. Similar behavior in parts of Africa, re: various tribes, would be scoffed at. Here, it's taken very seriously by the Christian right. Guess it just depends on whose team you're on.

      January 1, 2012 at 10:56 am |
  14. Jon

    Everyone should be aware of the power of the Evangelical Christians. The vast majority of Americans think that Muslim radicals are the biggest threat to America. But there can be no question the Evangelicals pose the GREATEST threat to American sensibilities.

    They should be monitored carefully, and systematically destroyed. Their lack of intelligence, lack of understanding, and lack of reason is shocking. And giving ANY credence to these people, let alone giving them the first crack at picking the next President of the United States is an incomprehensibly stupid notion.

    January 1, 2012 at 10:34 am |
    • GoRemote

      .I'm an Atheist.....You're a nut job.

      January 1, 2012 at 10:37 am |
    • rami

      Exactly!

      January 1, 2012 at 10:38 am |
    • Sandra

      A little bit extreme comment but the in essence correct

      January 1, 2012 at 10:44 am |
    • Jon

      GoRemote, I'm sorry you feel that way, but facts are facts.

      Muslims in this country make up a very small percentage of the population. And there is NO penetration of Islam into American politics. However, that is NOT the case of Evangelicals. They are the tip of the sword, pushing for the barrier between "Church and State" to be taken down, for an amendment banning gay marriage because the BIBLE says its wrong, for making abortion illegal, for complaining..... every year.... about how there is a "war on Christmas" and how there should be no issues with Nativity scenes and Christmas trees floating all over our secular society.

      Calling me a "nut job" doesn't change the facts, I'm afraid. Evangelicals have clout, they have numbers, and most Americans, like you, don't see them as a threat, which makes them an even BIGGER threat. Don't be so foolish as to think that just because they aren't blowing up buildings that they aren't dangerous.

      January 1, 2012 at 10:45 am |
    • Jon

      And by the way, I didn't mean "destroyed" as in "killed". I meant it more in the form of "take away their political influence".

      January 1, 2012 at 10:49 am |
    • Arkinsawyer

      Howdy there, Jonboy. Thought I might just drop a bug in yer ear, buddy. If your thoughts/feelings/personal moral code dictate how YOU vote, why should MINE not dictate how I vote? Now, isn't that a fair question? And, no, I DONT think that you or any other free-born American should be monitored, harrassed or wormed out of existance......

      January 1, 2012 at 10:50 am |
    • SPLAT!~

      Paul and Mittens are leading in Iowa.

      January 1, 2012 at 10:55 am |
    • Jon

      Howdy, Arkinsawyer...boy.

      TO answer your question, no I do not vote based on "feelings" or someone who "believes the same way that I do" as all of the people in this article claim to be the most important factor.

      I vote for my next president based on the policies he plans on implementing. Whether he wants to practice Christianity, Judaism, or Voodoo in the privacy of his own dwelling is not something I care about in the least. The President is supposed to lead by policy. I don't need a figurehead who preaches to me about belief systems and "moral convictions". And I certainly don't need candidates for president telling me that god told them to run for president.

      I would hope that the good people of Iowa will tap into a new source of undiscovered intelligence, and vote with their heads instead of their god-fearing hearts.

      January 1, 2012 at 10:59 am |
    • Rapp

      You are a sad, twisted individual. Systematically destroyed?? This sentiment demonstrates that you should be locked up. Lack of intelligence? Understanding? Reason? Do you read or think? You over generalize on the extreme but obviously have not taken time to read and consider Christians who have laid out reasonable claims for their faith. When you write as you do, you then condone the nut jobs who, in the name of Christ, have taken it upon themselves to persecute and destroy others.

      January 1, 2012 at 11:02 am |
    • Jon

      I never said anything about them not having the ability to practice their religion as they see fit. They can go home or go to church and pray their little hearts out. I am not interested in their case for their faith.

      Regardless of their faith, however, it should not have an influence on politics. We shouldn't see candidates catering to them, and sucking up to them in an attempt to get their vote. Nor should we be amending American policy to appease Evangelicals. Its nonsense.

      I'm tired of listening to fools who claim that this country is "founded on Christian values", or idiots who think that a lack of organized prayer in public school is the equivalent of "not being allowed to pray in school". I'm tired of them trying to influence the educations system because it doesn't mesh with what they learned from the bible. It all needs to stop.

      In their homes they can do whatever they want. But this is a secular country, with secular values. And if they want to step out into that secular world, they check their religions at their own doors until they get back home.

      January 1, 2012 at 11:09 am |
  15. bigfoot

    Evangelical is almost a nasty word in American politics. It stands for intolerance and racism and ignorance and false superiority and on and on and on...

    January 1, 2012 at 10:33 am |
    • Dave Davis

      You are mistaken, my friend. I think the word you were actually looking for that stands for those things might be "militant atheism."

      January 1, 2012 at 10:44 am |
  16. Kevin Caster

    This is only journalism, so one shouldn't expect much hard analysis. Still the argument about Jimmy Carter is based on a blurring between evangelical Christianity and Christianity writ large. Although Carter did well in Iowa in part because of his religion, that was before the contemporary evangelical religious/political movement. By memory, Carter spent a of time in Iowa churches of all denominations (as well as other community organs). My hunch is that, at the time, there were more liberal churches. In 1976, pulpits rarely endorsed politicians. While religion played a role in Carer's success (a role that should not be overstated) Carter supporters were not the machine that is the current evangelical religious/political movement. The evangelical religious/political machine is almost exclusively affiliated with the Republican party. The claim that Jimmy Carter "tapped into" that base is not true.

    January 1, 2012 at 10:32 am |
    • bigfoot

      Carter's success had a WHOLE LOT more to do with the backlash from Watergate than any religious affiliations.

      January 1, 2012 at 10:35 am |
  17. SPLAT!~

    Jimmy--The most influencial Evangelical leaders aren't from Iowa, they're from 'mainstream' American places like Texas, California, Colorado..google it and see!~

    January 1, 2012 at 10:32 am |
  18. labandme

    Well at least it isn't islam. When that day comes we'll be beheading the evangelicals.

    January 1, 2012 at 10:30 am |
    • rami

      its time, before they take this country down hill.

      January 1, 2012 at 10:36 am |
  19. Peppermint Patty

    Iowa has no political clout. If they did Huckabee would be president.

    January 1, 2012 at 10:26 am |
    • SPLAT!~

      Instead of Obama?~

      January 1, 2012 at 10:33 am |
    • GoRemote

      They gave Obama his start 4 years ago, with a victory in the Iowa Caucuses......Dopey.

      January 1, 2012 at 10:33 am |
    • JohnR

      The Iowa caucuses have picked some eventual winners, but also a lot of eventual also rans.

      January 1, 2012 at 10:42 am |
    • SPLAT!~

      JohnR....So has the rest of the country!~

      January 1, 2012 at 10:49 am |
    • Peppermint Patty

      Of course Obama did not run in the Iowa REPUBLICAN caucus. (He did win the Iowa Democratic caucus). I, incorrectly, as'ssumed, that's what we were talking about.

      January 1, 2012 at 11:17 am |
    • SPLAT!~

      Peppermint....The eventual nominee, John McCain, didn't become President either.

      January 1, 2012 at 11:28 am |
  20. Diane Collins Smith

    Only comment I have is that the HEADLINE on CNN's HOMEPAGE and this article DIDN'T say "Why do Iowa’s evangelicals wield so much political clout?

    Instead it said "WHAT do Iowa’s evangelicals wield so much political clout? DIDN'T MAKE SENSE....
    CNN SHOULD HAVE BETTER EDITORS or copywriters. or whoever...

    January 1, 2012 at 10:24 am |
    • Nada

      Yes, this error is inexcusable. It is the first thing I noticed and it is on the homepage, OMG!

      January 1, 2012 at 10:31 am |
    • Johnnnn

      It happens.

      January 1, 2012 at 10:58 am |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.