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With Alabama and Mississippi losses, Romney continues to stumble in Bible Belt
Mitt Romney has struggled to connect with Southern evangelicals.
March 14th, 2012
11:51 AM ET

With Alabama and Mississippi losses, Romney continues to stumble in Bible Belt

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

(CNN) – Mitt Romney’s losses in Alabama and Mississippi on Tuesday offered more stark evidence of a huge stumbling in his quest for the GOP nomination and the White House: his difficulty winning in the evangelical-rich Bible Belt.

With Rick Santorum’s victories in Alabama and Mississippi, he and Newt Gingrich have taken all but one Bible Belt state in the primaries.

In Alabama, where self-described white evangelicals made up 75% of Republican voters Tuesday, Romney got 27% of their votes, compared with 35% for Santorum and 32% for Gingrich, according to exit polls.

In Mississippi, where white evangelicals accounted for 80% of the vote, Romney got 29% evangelical support, compared with 35% for Santorum and 32% for Gingrich.

CNN's Belief Blog – all the faith angles to the day's top stories

Romney is a Mormon, while Santorum and Gingrich are Catholics. Recent polls show that about half of white evangelicals say Mormonism is not a Christian faith.

“This has nothing to do with religion but with the fact that Romney is only recently pro-life and only recently able to articulate an argument against same-sex marriage,” said Richard Land, the public policy chief at the Southern Baptist Convention, the nation’s largest evangelical denomination.

“Romney would have had a less difficult pathway to the nomination if he had been more Mormon – if he had taken the positions of his church on abortion and marriage earlier,” Land said.

But exit polls suggest that views about religion played a big role in Tuesday’s primaries.

Nearly half of voters in Alabama and Mississippi said the religious beliefs of the candidates mattered a great deal, and Romney fared poorly among those voters, winning 26% of them in Mississippi and just 16% in Alabama.

“Religion is a proxy for trustworthiness of a candidate, especially for white evangelical voters,” said Robert P. Jones, a pollster who focuses on religion and values questions. “The thinking goes that if there’s a person of faith and good moral character, I can trust them to make decisions even on issues where I don’t know where they stand.”

Jones notes that the Southern Baptist Convention for years issued materials calling Mormonism a cult. “There’s a long history of antipathy,” toward Mormons among evangelicals, Jones said, and “that’s certainly playing a role in the Deep South.”

Santorum, Jones says, has stances on social issues that line up more with rank-and-file evangelicals than with rank-and file Catholics.

In the Bible Belt, Santorum has won primaries in Tennessee, Missouri and Kansas, while Gingrich has won South Carolina and Georgia. Romney won the Virginia primary, but neither Santorum nor Gingrich was on the ballot there.

Still, Romney maintains a big lead among his competitors in terms of delegates.

Because Alabama's 47 delegates and Mississippi's 37 delegates will be awarded proportionally, Romney appeared to maintain his delegate lead and may add to it after more moderate Hawaii's 17 delegates are distributed. A CNN delegate estimate early Wednesday showed Romney with a 489-234 lead over Santorum, giving him a 255-delegate margin.

Mark DeMoss, a senior adviser to the Romney campaign helping with outreach to evangelicals, says he has been discouraging Republican voters from making too big a deal of the candidates' religious faith.

“A candidate's values are critically important, but there are Southern Baptists who don’t share my values or political views on many issues, and there are Mormons and Catholics and Jews who do,” said DeMoss, a Southern Baptist.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: 2012 Election • Christianity • Politics

soundoff (472 Responses)
  1. chinaconqueryoueasy

    hahaha..american redneck guarantee election of obama..american redneck think everyone to be his own religion or else..hahaha..american redneck biggest fool and stumbling block to american recovery..get caught up in useless debate..american redneck think their fairy tale better than other american redneck fairy tale..chinese know all fairy tale to be fairy tale..hahaha..american redneck ruin america..hahaha..

    April 8, 2012 at 12:03 am |
  2. George Veritas

    PRO LIFE really means that the Woman's life should come first, before any other matters. We need to put first things first in this regard. And a right to bodily privacy is by any intelligent choice better for a woman on her own conscience than any government can try to impose. No government has a right to regulate a woman's body.

    April 7, 2012 at 3:51 pm |
    • chinaconqueryoueasy

      hahaha..you borrow chinese money to pay for abortion...hahaha..you borrow chinese money to pay for birth..hahaha..chinese own your fetus and your child...hahaha..chinese cover all base..hahaha..chinese own subsidized house and residents..hahaha

      April 8, 2012 at 12:13 am |
  3. George Veritas

    RELIGION HAS NO PLACE IN POLITICS. Mixing the two is like mixing good and evil. Only a quagmire will result. I would never vote for any candidate that attempts to use the ideals of true religions as political ammunition. In the current Romans (ie Republicans) group of the Newt, The Saint and the Cultist they all are doing that. I once felt a bit strongly against Catholics in office until John F Kennedy changed my mind on that. Mormons, however, are pseudo-Christians - not the real thing at all. By any intelligent definition the are a cult and it is self evident they put women in a lower echelon than men. Although I consider Romney the most false of the big three, the other two also fail almost as bad.

    April 7, 2012 at 3:40 pm |
    • chinaconqueryoueasy

      hahaha..voice of reason on blog..american redneck vilify then vilify other american redneck..american redneck too dumb to work together..american mormon and evangelical think same way but refuse to work together..american redneck must want four more years..hahahah.

      April 8, 2012 at 12:07 am |
  4. Keith

    Romney struggles? Ya think? Any denomination that says Jesus and Satan are brothers is going to struggle in the Bible belt.

    March 16, 2012 at 7:14 pm |
    • I_get_it

      Keith, And what cuckoo supernatural fantasy does your guy going to bring with him?

      March 16, 2012 at 7:17 pm |
    • I_get_it

      edit: delete "going to"

      March 16, 2012 at 7:18 pm |
  5. Reality

    "Facts on Contraceptive Use

    http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/fb_contr_use.html
    January 2008

    "WHO NEEDS CONTRACEPTIVES?

    • 62 million U.S. women (and men?) are in their childbearing years (15–44).[1]

    • 43 million women (and men) of reproductive age, or 7 in 10, are se-xually active and do not want to become pregnant, but could become pregnant if they or their partners fail to use a con-traceptive method.[2]

    • The typical U.S. woman (man?) wants only 2 children. To achieve this goal, she (he?) must use cont-raceptives for roughly 3 decades.[3]

    WHO USES CON-TRACEPTIVES?

    • Virtually all women (98%) aged 15–44 who have ever had int-ercourse have used at least one con-traceptive method.[2](and men?)

    • Overall, 62% of the 62 million women aged 15–44 are currently using one.[2] (and men)

    • 31% of the 62 million women (and men?) do not need a method because they are infertile; are pregnant, postpartum or trying to become pregnant; have never had inte-rcourse; or are not se-xually active.[2]

    • Thus, only 7% of women aged 15–44 are at risk of unwanted pregnancy but are not using con-traceptives.[2] (and men?)

    • Among the 42 million fertile, s-exually active women who do not want to become pregnant, 89% are practicing con-traception.[2] (and men?)

    WHICH METHODS DO WOMEN (men?) USE?

    • 64% of reproductive-age women who practice con-traception use reversible methods, such as oral con-traceptives or condoms. The remaining women rely on female or male sterilization.[2]

    FIRST-YEAR CON-TRACEPTIVE FAILURE RATES – Guttmacher Inst-itute

    Percentage of women experiencing an unintended pregnancy (a few examples)
    Some examples
    Method……………..Typical

    Pill (combined)……… 8.7
    Tubal sterilization ……0.7
    Male condom ……….17.4
    Vasectomy…………… 0.2
    Implant…………………1.0
    IUD (Copper-T)……….1.0
    (Masturbation mono or dual)………. 0

    Periodic abstinence.. 25.3 (RCC approved)
    Calendar 9.0 (RCC approved)
    Ovulation Method 3.0 (RCC approved)
    Sympto-thermal 2.0 (RCC approved)
    Post-ovulation 1.0 (RCC approved)

    No method 85.0" (RCC approved and important to women and men wanting to get pregnant)

    (Abstinence) 0 (RCC approved)

    More facts about contraceptives from

    guttmacher.org/pubs/fb_contr_use.html

    "CON-TRACEPTIVE METHOD CHOICE

    Cont-raceptive method use among U.S. women who practice con-traception, 2002

    Method No. of users (in 000s) % of users
    Pill………….. 11,661……………. 30.6
    Male condom 6,841……………… 18.0 "

    i.e.
    The pill fails to protect women 8.7% during the first year of use (from the same reference previously shown).

    i.e. 0.087 (failure rate)
    x 62 million (# child bearing women)
    x 0.62 ( % of these women using contraception )
    x 0.306 ( % of these using the pill) =

    1,020,000 unplanned pregnancies
    during the first year of pill use.

    For male condoms (failure rate of 17.4 and 18% use level)

    1,200,000 unplanned pregnancies during the first year of male condom use.

    The Gut-tmacher Inst-itute (same reference) notes also that the perfect use of the pill should result in a 0.3% failure rate
    (35,000 unplanned pregnancies) and for the male condom, a 2% failure rate (138,000 unplanned pregnancies).

    o Conclusion: The failures of the widely used birth "control" methods i.e. the pill and male condom have led to the large rate of abortions and S-TDs in the USA. Men and women must either recognize their responsibilities by using the pill or condoms properly and/or use other methods in order to reduce the epidemics of abortion and S-TDs.

    March 16, 2012 at 8:11 am |
  6. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    March 16, 2012 at 6:47 am |
    • Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

      I love Jesus, Jesus loves me, therefore I love grits.

      March 16, 2012 at 9:08 am |
    • Jesus

      The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs!!! .......

      March 16, 2012 at 10:30 am |
  7. 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 Mitt Romney, 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 the irony:

    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.

    i.e If the Pill and male condoms were used properly, abortion would not be an issue and Obama would not be president.
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    March 16, 2012 at 12:05 am |
    • ElmerGantry

      Got any peer reviewed sources?

      March 16, 2012 at 12:15 am |
    • .....

      Hit report abuse on all reality bull sh it

      March 16, 2012 at 6:47 am |
    • Reality

      "Facts on Contraceptive Use-------->>>>>>>>>>

      http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/fb_contr_use.html
      January 2008

      "WHO NEEDS CONTRACEPTIVES?

      • 62 million U.S. women (and men?) are in their childbearing years (15–44).[1]

      • 43 million women (and men) of reproductive age, or 7 in 10, are se-xually active and do not want to become pregnant, but could become pregnant if they or their partners fail to use a con-traceptive method.[2]

      • The typical U.S. woman (man?) wants only 2 children. To achieve this goal, she (he?) must use cont-raceptives for roughly 3 decades.[3]

      WHO USES CON-TRACEPTIVES?

      • Virtually all women (98%) aged 15–44 who have ever had int-ercourse have used at least one con-traceptive method.[2](and men?)

      • Overall, 62% of the 62 million women aged 15–44 are currently using one.[2] (and men)

      • 31% of the 62 million women (and men?) do not need a method because they are infertile; are pregnant, postpartum or trying to become pregnant; have never had inte-rcourse; or are not se-xually active.[2]

      • Thus, only 7% of women aged 15–44 are at risk of unwanted pregnancy but are not using con-traceptives.[2] (and men?)

      • Among the 42 million fertile, s-exually active women who do not want to become pregnant, 89% are practicing con-traception.[2] (and men?)

      WHICH METHODS DO WOMEN (men?) USE?

      • 64% of reproductive-age women who practice con-traception use reversible methods, such as oral con-traceptives or condoms. The remaining women rely on female or male sterilization.[2]

      FIRST-YEAR CON-TRACEPTIVE FAILURE RATES – Guttmacher Inst-itute

      Percentage of women experiencing an unintended pregnancy (a few examples)
      Some examples
      Method……………..Typical

      Pill (combined)……… 8.7
      Tubal sterilization ……0.7
      Male condom ……….17.4
      Vasectomy…………… 0.2
      Implant…………………1.0
      IUD (Copper-T)……….1.0
      (Masturbation mono or dual)………. 0

      Periodic abstinence.. 25.3 (RCC approved)
      Calendar 9.0 (RCC approved)
      Ovulation Method 3.0 (RCC approved)
      Sympto-thermal 2.0 (RCC approved)
      Post-ovulation 1.0 (RCC approved)

      No method 85.0" (RCC approved and important to women and men wanting to get pregnant)

      (Abstinence) 0 (RCC approved)

      More facts about contraceptives from

      guttmacher.org/pubs/fb_contr_use.html

      "CON-TRACEPTIVE METHOD CHOICE

      Cont-raceptive method use among U.S. women who practice con-traception, 2002

      Method No. of users (in 000s) % of users
      Pill………….. 11,661……………. 30.6
      Male condom 6,841……………… 18.0 "

      i.e.
      The pill fails to protect women 8.7% during the first year of use (from the same reference previously shown).

      i.e. 0.087 (failure rate)
      x 62 million (# child bearing women)
      x 0.62 ( % of these women using contraception )
      x 0.306 ( % of these using the pill) =

      1,020,000 unplanned pregnancies
      during the first year of pill use.

      For male condoms (failure rate of 17.4 and 18% use level)

      1,200,000 unplanned pregnancies during the first year of male condom use.

      The Gut-tmacher Inst-itute (same reference) notes also that the perfect use of the pill should result in a 0.3% failure rate
      (35,000 unplanned pregnancies) and for the male condom, a 2% failure rate (138,000 unplanned pregnancies).

      o Conclusion: The failures of the widely used birth "control" methods i.e. the pill and male condom have led to the large rate of abortions and S-TDs in the USA. Men and women must either recognize their responsibilities by using the pill or condoms properly and/or use other methods in order to reduce the epidemics of abortion and S-TDs.

      March 16, 2012 at 8:15 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.