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January 3rd, 2012
11:01 PM ET

Santorum benefits from evangelical surge, but born-again Iowans splinter

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

(CNN)--Rick Santorum rode a largely evangelical wave of support to finish eight votes behind Mitt Romney in the Iowa Republican caucuses Tuesday night, according to CNN entrance polls, but the evangelical bloc nonetheless appeared to be seriously splintered.

Santorum garnered 34% of evangelical caucus-goers, according to entrance polls, the libertarian Ron Paul garnered 18%, while Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry each took 14% of that vote. Michele Bachmann won 6% of evangelical caucus-goers and Jon Huntsman won 1%.

The entrance poll reflects an evangelical consensus against Romney, who won a plurality of Iowa’s nonevangelical caucus-goers, but also showcases evangelical disagreement over the best alternative to the former Massachusetts governor, considered to be the establishment candidate and the national front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination.

John Green, a political scientist at the University of Akron, noted that Romney did worse among Iowa evangelicals on Tuesday night than he did as a presidential candidate four years ago, when he won 19% of evangelical Iowans.

Some evangelicals oppose Romney because of his Mormon faith, while others distrust him because of his past social liberalism on issues such as abortion, though Romney says he is now against abortion.

Ron Paul, also a candidate in 2008, roughly doubled his evangelical support from four years ago.

Some 58% of Iowa caucus-goers on Tuesday identified as evangelical, according to entrance polls, about as many as in 2008, when Huckabee was seen to have provoked a spike in evangelical turnout.

This year, the intense pursuit of evangelical votes by several candidates, especially Gingrich, Perry, Santorum and Bachmann, might have kept evangelical numbers up.

Tuesday night marked a departure from 2008, when one candidate – Mike Huckabee – won about half of the Iowa evangelical caucus-goers.

For Huckabee, though, evangelical support was as much hindrance as help, as the former Baptist preacher struggled to break out beyond evangelical voters for the rest of the GOP primaries.

Get the latest news on the Iowa caucuses

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Politics

soundoff (304 Responses)
  1. Johnny Facetious

    I wonder when Sarah Palin is going to jump in and steal the nomination?

    January 4, 2012 at 3:56 am |
    • Joe from CT, not Lieberman

      She is still hoping for a fractured convention with no one having a majority so she can roll in as a candidate on the second ballot. That way she gets to keep her day job with Fox until August.

      January 4, 2012 at 8:45 am |
  2. dude_q

    Still waiting for the "Santorum guns" in my local stores.
    http://clintongunban.com/LearnMore.aspx

    I hope you get a f'ckd up gun with a 10 round magazine, a ground off bayonet lug and a .. and a..
    Nevermind, just keep your religious hands off of my government!

    January 4, 2012 at 3:22 am |
  3. perrrob

    Read this on another blog ...

    “When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.” – Sinclair Lewis 1935

    January 4, 2012 at 3:17 am |
  4. dude_q

    Why don't you people see Santorum for the liberal he really is?
    I suppose you'll be praising your religious leaders when he imposes more restrictions on your guns then.

    January 4, 2012 at 3:11 am |
    • Joe from CT, not Lieberman

      Thank you Mr. Ron Paul devotee.

      January 4, 2012 at 8:44 am |
  5. Thomas

    @Rick Santorum
    You libs and commies are going into concentration camps as soon as Santorum beats Barack HUSSAIN Obama!!!

    Are you going to be the guy puting a number tattoo on my arm and handing out towels to the showers ?

    When all is said and done , you will just say you were obeying orders , wont you ?

    January 4, 2012 at 3:01 am |
    • bill

      you can call us lib/liberals all you want, but if your intention is to insult us, all you have to do is call us a republican

      January 4, 2012 at 7:16 pm |
  6. Ricky Bobby

    Congrats Gov Romney on winning Iowa! The narrowest victories are the most satisfying. Unfortunately for Santorum, the narrowest losses are also the most bitter. Best of luck in future voting states. You have been the most consistent in the polls and are certainly deserving of the key endorsements you're receiving.

    January 4, 2012 at 2:54 am |
  7. Thomas

    Mitt Romney / Rick Santorum

    With all there children , maybe they can start there own army .

    God Squad 2012

    January 4, 2012 at 2:53 am |
  8. Mark in omaha

    The Evangelicals like Santorum? Then my vote definitely goes Romney or Paul.

    January 4, 2012 at 2:19 am |
    • dude_q

      I'd more than welcome your Paul vote.

      January 4, 2012 at 3:03 am |
  9. Santorum 2012

    You libs and commies are going into concentration camps as soon as Santorum beats Barack HUSSAIN Obama!!!

    January 4, 2012 at 2:00 am |
    • cutthroughthebs

      Obvious Troll trolls obviously.

      January 4, 2012 at 2:28 am |
    • Bernard Webb

      Your meds are in the kitchen, in the cupboard by the sink. Please take them. NOW.

      January 4, 2012 at 7:08 am |
  10. Clearly Romney would have won handily but for the fact that he is a Mormon and

    he is a pragmatist rather than an ideological purist. Thus the evangelical bias against him. He is about
    getting results. He helped create thousands of jobs. Staples,
    Sport's Authority, AMC Entertainment, Aspen Education Group, Burger
    King, Brookstone, Burlington Coat Factory, Guitar Center, Sealy, Toys
    R Us, The Weather Channel are just a few examples of Romney success
    stories. He governed as a moderate, fiscally responsible Governor of
    a very blue state. Our country would do well to have somebody that
    can work across party lines to bring some fiscal sanity back to our
    country.

    January 4, 2012 at 1:34 am |
    • The_Mick

      Romney eliminated more jobs than he created. He and his partners bought Burger King in 2002 – they did not make it a success. They mortgaged the properties, lowered salaries, and walked away – leaving the company Wendy's passed by last year. The Sports Authority was 9 stores that never made and were losing money when KMart bought it from Romney for $75M. Etc. Etc. Just because Bain Capital was involved in many ventures does not mean it created jobs in them! In many cases it was effectively just a banker.

      January 4, 2012 at 1:46 am |
    • The_Mick

      Romney was NOT a fiscally responsible governor. He left the Massachusetts governments pension funds only 62% fully funded during a strong economy -so that future taxpayers are responsible for over 1/3 of the liabilities his government incurred. He also increased spending by 13%, despite claiming otherwise.

      January 4, 2012 at 1:49 am |
    • Bernard Webb

      Romney created thousands of jobs?! How's that Kool-Aid? Romney made millions upon millions for himself by consolidating corporations and laying people off by the thousand. He is a perfect representative of the top 1%. You, who are undoubtedly in the bottom 99%, support your oppressors because right-wing media told you to. You're like a chicken working for Col. Sanders! And you don't even know it. How sad.

      January 4, 2012 at 7:11 am |
  11. momoya

    Could the evangelical vote decide the election? And if so, doesn't that dynamic expose a much larger problem than Santorum in the White House?

    January 4, 2012 at 1:31 am |
    • dude_q

      Of course it does, but what can we do about it?
      Let's start by making churches pay taxes, since they tend to like to influence our politics.
      A church can donate money to a presidential candidate? What? They don't pay taxes?

      January 4, 2012 at 3:06 am |
  12. clif

    I honestly dont think the iowa voting is legit, cnn and other media already gave hint who is going to lead.Why back Ron Paul if he were in offfice he wouldnt be noticed because he would be doinghis job correctly and it wouldnt sell papaers or tv shows

    January 4, 2012 at 1:30 am |
    • tony vaughn

      Correct! I think that unseen forces have propped up Mitt and Santurom attempting to discourage Paul supporters. Obama cannot beat Paul's plans for government, but he could beat the other two!

      January 4, 2012 at 7:41 am |
  13. Kathleen

    Santorum leads with all the high-Jesus, low-IQ types. This is very very good news for Obama.

    January 4, 2012 at 1:29 am |
    • perrrob

      You gotta love these Republican nitwits ... "Thank God for our guns and Bible".
      More stupid than that you start messing up the floor with your own fesces ... Praise the Lord and shoot thy neighbour.

      Ayatollah Santorum is clearly a religious nutcase yet Iowa thinks he would make a great president ... live long enough and you'll see it all. Unbelievable stupidity.

      January 4, 2012 at 1:57 am |
  14. clif

    rick looks to me to be wolf in sheeps clothing and using his faith to purchase solidity in others. People wake up he has you hypnotized, look what is around you and what shouldnt be, listen to the crys of the people, look what they have done to us, The rich will inherit the earth not the meek, Yes it is suppose to be the other way around but in rommney's and ricks shoes it isnt. Wake up! Ron is a baptist a solid faith group that believes in God the Father & Son and why would he lead us down the wrong path? I have found in the past the Evengelical people arent as stable as one would like to believe. People say rick is solid but when i looked at his site most of the voting was siding with the old hard ball players and look where that has goteen us! They all lay in the same bed and sleep with each other. Ron Paul has isolated himself away from these mograls for a reason, The Lord says not to associate with non believers nor Participate in thier dealings, if Rick was so solid Ron & Rick would be friends. I actually think Rick is what Our Lord warns us about. Hoesntly if we dont get the right president into office the next 4 years is going to be total terror in our country. They say there is 12 million illegals here the real truth is over 40 million and the blood bath is spilling over to all our streets and getting worse, A fence is like a wedding ring if you really dont believe in it, what does it really stop? Enforcing laws and enforcing what is right is the key. Lets stop killing our children in afganistan, it was illegal greedy manuvers that got us into this mess, we dont know where all that money went and all the politicians close a blind eye on whats going on and they all have thier hands out to collect. Ron Paul wants to end this and bring transparency back to our nation. What truth have you heard out of Ricks mouth about our Lord? NO truth can come out of rommneys mouth about our Lord and Paul says nothing but believes in our Lord, isnt it time we have our Lord in the center of things and in the center of our government? Ronn Paul will put Him back and our foundation will be with the right leader. These people in office ccould have stop this mess from the get go, they knew what was going on at all times, too many hands in the pot and no one wanted to be caught so they let it play out. Ron Paul stated to the public but no one listened, Rick and Mitt two criminal idiots that one of them might take office. Did you know that the immigration law that is in place makes all our senators and governors that havent tried to bring enforce illegal immigration laws all of these people have commited felonies? Everyone that has not said anything to remove these people have commited felonies. They know that all it takes is one person to take them to court and charges will be filed. However the president of the united states has a get out of jail ticket and cant be charged with a felony. Jan Brewer, Rn Paul and many others have stood out and stated do something, but a sworn oath prevents them from bringing charges against colleges. Do you want a country of laws and enforced laws or dfo you want to be like Mexico?

    January 4, 2012 at 1:25 am |
    • Congratulations !

      You win today's diarrhetoric award for using the most words to convey the least substance.

      January 4, 2012 at 3:40 am |
    • Bernard Webb

      Clif is obviously suffering from the heartbreak of logorrhea.

      January 4, 2012 at 7:13 am |
  15. Love

    "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God." -Mathew 5:9

    How can any Christian support a candidate that supports use of torture or preemptive wars?

    Ron Paul on faith:

    "I get to my God through Christ. Christ to me...is a man of peace. He is...he is for peace. He is not for war. He does not justify preemptive declared war. I strongly believe that there is a Christian doctrine of 'just war' and I believe this nation has drifted from that, no matter what the rationals are, we have drifted from that and it is very very dangerous and I see in many ways it un-Christian...and to justify what we do in the name of Christianity I think is very dangerous and not a part of what Christianity is all about. Christ came here for spiritual reasons – not secular war and boundaries and geography. And yet we are now dedicating so much of our aggressive activity in the name of God. But God, he is the Prince of Peace. That is what I see from my God and through Christ. I vote for peace."

    January 4, 2012 at 1:20 am |
    • Bernard Webb

      Today's hyper-religious, publicly pious republicans never EVER quote the Sermon On the Mount, the centerpiece of Christ's message, preferring the "Thou shalt not, thou shalt not" nature of the punitive Ten Commandments from the Old Testament. But "Blessed are the poor"? Ha! Tell me when you hear THAT from a top-1%-loving republican!

      January 4, 2012 at 7:15 am |
  16. Obamer

    Ol Bachmann finishing last... forfeited her own religion to support the Israeli lobby, she sold her soul for rock and roll Iowa... crazy eyez needs to go back to sunday school and remind Jesus he is #1 loool

    January 4, 2012 at 1:16 am |
    • Bernard Webb

      She is sincere, but being right is important too.

      January 4, 2012 at 7:16 am |
  17. dude_q

    I still doubt the election results, tabulated in secret this year?
    Why?!

    January 4, 2012 at 1:12 am |
    • tony vaughn

      Its the government against Paul! The other runners are a facade to throw off votes for Paul. It'll all change up further in the cycle... Sure its a rigged game.. But the real American vote will prevail eventually.

      January 4, 2012 at 8:19 am |
  18. Dan

    If the evangelicals support Santorum, then that tells me and other Americans who want reality based policy in our government that we must oppose him.

    January 4, 2012 at 1:01 am |
  19. Abinadi

    Thank-you very much for mentioning the mormons. For more information, go to mormon.org.

    January 4, 2012 at 12:15 am |
  20. Abinadi

    Santorum is simply the flavor of the week. Even if he won, in another week he will be gone. The real candidate is and always was Mitt Romney.

    January 3, 2012 at 11:58 pm |
    • 0G-No gods, no ghosts, no goblins!

      And he will lose the general election because he is a mormon.

      January 4, 2012 at 12:07 am |
    • Yup

      He did not win – the article is deceptive. He only did well with evangelicals. He tied Romney in the full contest.

      January 4, 2012 at 12:11 am |
    • 0G-No gods, no ghosts, no goblins!

      Santorum has a 37 vote lead with 3% (about 3-4,000?) of the votes to come. He's not a winner yet!

      January 4, 2012 at 12:14 am |
    • 0G-No gods, no ghosts, no goblins!

      Romney in the lead by 57, 2% to come.

      January 4, 2012 at 12:21 am |
    • ThinkAgain

      "is and always was" Mittens because that's who Karl Rove, Grover Norquist, Dick Armey, the Koch brothers (and their multinational corporate partners) and Dick Cheney have chosen.

      You see, the requirement is a willingness to do and say anything to get elected (see: John McCain), a loyalty to economic, military and foreign policies that are PROVEN FAILURES, and having no qualms making the average American suffer in the name of advancing party power and plutocratic fortune.

      Mittens fits the bill to a tee!

      January 4, 2012 at 12:35 am |
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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.