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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. hippypoet

    as mort put it "people should NEVER vote for a candidate solely based on their religious beliefs or the candidates religious beliefs" i agree – but i like this way of putting it a tad better – faith should not play a part in choosing the leader of a country such as ours. What kind of message does that send – we are a country of religious tolerlence but yet can't seem to elect any other religious belief or lack there of to the sit of power... we are a country of fronting masked morons who express tolerlance to your face then when at home are nothing but intolerant of outside things and ideas including you and yours! I think its high time for all who believe in a god should all walk backwards where ever they go.. they being @ss backwards people anyway – this way they get to walk like they talk....and its a new experience for them! yay for learning.

    oh and there is no need for the statement of separation of church and state because clearly those in power and those aiming for more have little care or concern for the laws as they only exist to impede there rising to such powers. We the lower class are the ones meant to follow the laws designed for all...we are the all, they are the few – duh! where have ya been!

    January 4, 2012 at 9:41 am |
  2. Tex71

    "Silent majority" jon? The kind of silent majority that hangs tea bags from their hats while waving guns at their Congressional representatives? Are we talking about the same silent people here? Oh and by the way – you've never been a majority outside your own deluded little fantasy world.

    January 4, 2012 at 9:36 am |
  3. mort

    people should NEVER vote for a candidate solely based on their religious beliefs or the candidates religious beliefs. Voting for someone just because you are evangelical and they are too is wrong wrong wrong. Leave religion out of it and vote for the person that is best fit to lead our country. That means someone who can manage the financial aspects of it, run the government and the military, etc. But religion is not important in that.

    January 4, 2012 at 9:24 am |
    • Bob

      Beliefs in talking snakes, a young earth, virgi-n birth, and other religious tall tales, especially self-contradictory ones such as of a "kind" sky fairy that will torture you forever if you so much as doubt him, should be reasons enough to bring a candidate's abilities to reason into question. Actually, such beliefs should even bring the candidate's sincerity and sanity into question. On those grounds, actually, we have good reasons to not support religious extremist candidates such as Rick Santorum, and we may have grounds to disqualify them from the race. In that sense, religious beliefs really are relevant to voting choices.

      Ask the questions. Break the chains. Be free of religion in 2012.
      http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/

      January 4, 2012 at 10:31 am |
  4. Jimbo

    The evangelical support will determine who I will not vote for. Basing your vote on religion and being swayed by your religious leaders is a mindless ignorant way to vote without doing your homework on important issues. Abortion and gay marraige are non-issues in the state this country is in now. This country would be better off if the evangelicals were just non existent, they are a brown stain on this country's underwear.

    January 4, 2012 at 9:16 am |
  5. TimC

    Santorum's campaign will falter in less conservative states where religion is not a key factor in as many voters' minds. Iowa does not represent the rest of the U.S. very well, so don't put too much importance on last night's results.

    January 4, 2012 at 8:49 am |
  6. Mbane18

    Finally CNN is seperating Evangelcals from Christians. Good on you CNN. It's about time! Always felt embarrased to say I was raised in a Christian home because people in North America always associated it with these fanatical nutcases. The 2 have nothing in common other than reading from the same book.

    January 4, 2012 at 8:27 am |
    • Tacitus Talks

      So a fan of American football is okay, but a FAN of Jesus Christ is not. I see. Christian means Christlike and the DISCIPLES were first called Christians at Antioch. A christian MUST BE A DISCIPLE to be called a Christian – in other words – a fanatic -some on under DISCIPLINE TO LEARN. You are probably neither. And yes I am judging you. Nothing wrong with it. Idiots like you when you quote "Judge not" – never finish the verse. Hence additional proof that you are a hypocritical pharisee.

      January 4, 2012 at 8:59 am |
    • Patrick

      Whatever helps you sleep at night.

      January 4, 2012 at 9:01 am |
    • Mbane18

      Evangelicals are the Christian equivalent of Muslim extremists. Judge me all you want. That's what you people do anyway but I forgive you for your ignorance.

      January 4, 2012 at 9:08 am |
    • r schier

      "Evangelical" is absolutely the most incredibly close synonym for "idiot" that anyone could have ever came up with.
      I don't want any of this ignorant religious BS anywhere near my govt......

      January 4, 2012 at 9:26 am |
    • Pest

      Look up "Christian" in the dictionary. Evangelicals are certainly Christians. You share the same boat. If you don't like it, switch boats.

      January 4, 2012 at 9:34 am |
    • A

      Evangelicals are Christians, just like vegans are vegetarians. A smaller, more extreme subsection.

      Please note, I am not trying to insult vegans by the comparison. (Though, having raised honey bees, I don't see the harm in using honey.)

      January 4, 2012 at 9:42 am |
  7. Frank

    Totally totally depressing. I will NOT vote for EITHER Romney, Santorum OR Obama...........I will ONLY vote for Ron Paul............Romney is as PLASTIC as a phony Ken Doll (it will be the same old crap with him= BORING!!!!) , Santorum is a potential DICTATOR (the guy is a madman!!!!) , Obama is going to LOSE anyway

    January 4, 2012 at 8:23 am |
    • tallulah13

      You have the right to vote your conscience.

      January 4, 2012 at 10:18 am |
  8. POD

    Evangelicals are religious fanatics and Rick Santorum is their Ayhatollah

    January 4, 2012 at 8:20 am |
  9. A

    You gotta question the sanity of those who debate modern issues and problems by comparing how one should interpret a 2000-year-old book about shepherds.

    Please, people, have all the faith you want if you choose, but use your brains!!

    January 4, 2012 at 8:17 am |
    • Tacitus Talks

      You have obviously not read that book.

      January 4, 2012 at 9:01 am |
    • Patrick

      Careful A, you are offending the nutters with your tolerance of faith and call for reason.

      January 4, 2012 at 9:04 am |
    • A

      I've read it a number of times, in several different versions. It contains some very good philosophy, and is valuable for that reason. It's still just ancient mythology, though.

      January 4, 2012 at 9:36 am |
  10. TWH

    To the Evangelicals: HE IS TELLING YOU WHAT YOU WANT TO HEAR.

    He is a typical, smooth talking (he's not even that smooth), politician. Follow the teachings of Jesus and vote for the ONLY candidate the promotes PEACE.

    Ron Paul 2012

    January 4, 2012 at 8:09 am |
  11. Reality

    Only for the "newbies":

    Why the Christian Right no longer matters in presidential elections:

    Once again, all the conservative votes in the country "ain't" going to help a "pro-life" presidential candidate, i.e Rick Perry, Mitt Romney, Jon Huntsman, Michele Bachmann, Newton Leroy Gingrich, Ron Paul or Rick Santorum, in 2012 as the "Immoral Majority" rules the country and will be doing so for awhile. The "Immoral Majority" you ask?

    The fastest growing USA voting bloc: In 2008, the 70+ million "Roe vs. Wade mothers and fathers" of aborted womb-babies" whose ranks grow by two million per year i.e. 78+ million "IM" voters in 2012.

    2008 Presidential popular vote results:

    69,456,897 for pro-abortion/choice BO, 59,934,814 for "pro-life" JM.

    And all because many women fail to take the Pill once a day or men fail to use a condom even though in most cases these men have them in their pockets. (maybe they should be called the "Stupid Majority"?)
    (The failures of the widely used birth "control" methods i.e. the Pill and male condom have led to the large rate of abortions ( one million/yr) and S-TDs (19 million/yr) in the USA. Men and women must either recognize their responsibilities by using the Pill or condoms properly and/or use other safer birth control methods in order to reduce the epidemics of abortion and S-TDs.)

    January 4, 2012 at 8:05 am |
  12. JPX

    "Rick Santorum appeared to be riding a largely evangelical wave of support", which is why this man should never be President.

    January 4, 2012 at 8:01 am |
  13. Rich

    fairytale believers.........sad.Most only need to be born once...lol

    January 4, 2012 at 7:55 am |
    • Tacitus Talks

      Sir Isaac Newton was among them – the father of Modern Science. A staunch creationist, an evangelical Christian, and smarter than you.

      January 4, 2012 at 9:05 am |
    • Tacitus Talks

      almost forgot.....LOL.

      January 4, 2012 at 9:06 am |
    • Patrick

      Sir Isaac Newton was also an alchemist. The man believed he could turn lead into gold and gain immortality from potions. This is your champion of intelligence?

      Alchemy is an influential philosophical tradition whose early pract-itioners’ claims to profound powers were known from antiquity. The defining objectives of alchemy are varied; these include the creation of the fabled philosopher's stone possessing powers including the capability of turning base metals into the noble metals gold or silver, as well as an elixir of life conferring youth and immortality

      January 4, 2012 at 9:24 am |
    • Tex71

      Sir Isaac Newton was a Christian, but NOT an Evangelical by any modern American definition of the word. He was a scientist. He did write a lengthy book about magic though.

      January 4, 2012 at 9:24 am |
    • Tex71

      Nothing wrong with Newton's intelligence. He did have the disadvantage of working with less information than we have now, mostly because we have been building on Newton's discoveries for the last 300 years. Newton would be horrified by the anti-science views of Creationist Evangelicals today, whose quasi-science apologetics fall apart very quickly under any kind of scrutiny and consistently leave them clinging to arguments of negative proof (You can't prove it's NOT true...).

      January 4, 2012 at 9:31 am |
    • Patrick

      @ Tex71
      The man clearly wasn’t stupid. However I find it amusing you say he wrote a book on magic and claim there is nothing wrong with his intelligence. Having less information to work with does not account for belief in magic. Seeing as there is no proof it is real or ever was. The amount of information on the subject hasn’t changed.

      January 4, 2012 at 10:18 am |
    • tallulah13

      Patrick, I disagree. During Newton's lifetime, magic was thought to be a reasonable study. He didn't have the advantages of knowing what we do now. No matter his intelligence, he was still a man of his times.

      January 4, 2012 at 10:24 am |
    • Patrick

      Fair enough. What do we know now about magic that they didn’t know then?

      January 4, 2012 at 11:06 am |
  14. I am Sloppy Seconds

    The evangelicals are praying for Rick Santorum's sanity. Nothing like a one issue candidate to rally the social conservatives.

    January 4, 2012 at 7:55 am |
    • Tacitus Talks

      There is only one issue – send Obama and his Chicago thugs back to Chicago.

      January 4, 2012 at 9:07 am |
  15. Kevin

    "we work, pay taxes and vote."

    And liberals don't? These delusions of self-importance and moral superiority are why conservatives, despite being the majority, routinely fail in maintaining congressional control. You're the majority, yes, but you're dishonest with respect to yourself and the nature of others.

    January 4, 2012 at 7:40 am |
  16. Bernard Webb

    "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."

    This will be the story for Santorum as well. People who do well with hyper-religious people tend to do poorly with normal people and vice versa; we've seen this movie before.

    January 4, 2012 at 7:06 am |
  17. Cin

    No, still a minority who craves power to push their 'our way or no way' intolerant Nazi like agenda. People have been catching on to the phony UN-Christian mantra.

    January 4, 2012 at 6:57 am |
    • Tex71

      What Evangelicals never seem to get through their heads is that the very thing that makes Jesus stand out among Western religious leaders is his insistence on changing people from within, voluntarily – not from without, by force. This concept is impossible for fundamentalists of any religion to comprehend, because force is all they believe in.

      January 4, 2012 at 9:40 am |
  18. Rudedog

    It's true the Tea Party favorites are not doing so well.
    Now, what are the repubs going to do about the economy? Massive tax cuts to the rich? Or more whine about Oboma being a Kenyan/Muslim/Commie out to destroy America as he cuddles terrorists? If the repubs quit attacking everyone/their fellow repubs and just talk solutions, maybe indies would listen.
    If they could get rid of the partisan hate, maybe their would be room for reason.

    January 4, 2012 at 6:57 am |
  19. NATHAN WIMBERLY

    Who cares? The same rubes picked Hucklebee in 2008.

    January 4, 2012 at 6:49 am |
  20. The Tea Party sure seems to have vanished from relevance, haven't they? What a shock.

    Maybe Michele Bachmann can do a commercial saying she IS a witch – it really can't hurt her, and since saying you are NOT a witch killed Christine O'Donnell's chances, maybe saying the opposite will help Bachmann.

    January 4, 2012 at 4:08 am |
    • jon

      The whole point is we have bee the silent majority, we don't occupy stuff or commit crimes to get attention like the liberals, we work, pay taxes and vote. You will see that in November, and wonder what happened...

      January 4, 2012 at 6:26 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      So all "liberals" commit crime, occupy Wall Street, pay no taxes, don't work, and don't vote?

      I think you're the one who'll wonder what happened, jonny.

      January 4, 2012 at 7:23 am |
    • Tex71

      LOL! Fell off my chair! Best post of the day!

      January 4, 2012 at 9:33 am |
    • tallulah13

      That's funny, Jon. I wasn't involved in the occupy movement (or the gun-totin' sign carrying tea party movement), I pay taxes and I vote. I believe in common sense, fixing the economy, improving education and health care, and repairing our roads, bridges and dams before they crumble completely. Where is MY candidate?

      January 4, 2012 at 10:32 am |
    • Bob

      tallulah13, maybe you should run for office.

      January 4, 2012 at 10:34 am |
    • J.W

      The ultra-conservative will scare off any independent voters in November. The GOP would be best off to nominate Romney, although they probably won't since he is Mormon.

      January 4, 2012 at 10:44 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.