January 4th, 2012
12:21 PM ET
By Dan Merica, CNN
(CNN) – Even though former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, one of two Catholics in the race for the GOP nomination, was helped by an evangelical bump in Iowa on Wednesday, his support among Catholic Republicans is near the bottom of the field, according to a new Gallup survey.
Santorum, who according to the survey gets the support of 3% of all registered Republicans, only gets 4% support - a 1% bump - among his Catholic GOP brethren.
Those numbers are in stark contrast to former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who is supported by 23% of all Republicans in the poll, but receives the support of 71% of Mormon Republicans.
Romney’s numbers are “the clearest cut pattern” in the survey, wrote Gallup’s Frank Newport.
“Given that Mormons constitute about 2% of American adults and 4% of Republicans nationally, the more important factor may be any possible effect that Romney's faith has on the vote of highly religious non-Mormons, a much larger voting bloc,” Newport wrote.
According to the survey, highly religious Protestants, who are a close match for the widely discussed evangelical vote, are less likely to support Romney than the national average of all registered Republican voters.
Eighteen percent of Protestants who attend church weekly support Romney, a number that compares to the average 23% that Romney garnered in the Gallup poll.
Other than highly religious Protestants, however, Catholic and Protestant Republicans are in line with all Republican and Republican-leaning independents who are registered to vote.
Two major Republican presidential hopefuls, Rep. Ron Paul and Texas Gov. Rick Perry, are Protestant, while two candidates are Catholic: former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Santorum.
Gallup released the poll before Santorum’s remarkably close second-place finish in Iowa but did speculate about what a strong Santorum finish would mean for these numbers.
“If Santorum does well in Tuesday's Iowa caucuses, it will be important to monitor if some of the explanation for his success lies with an increase in support from his fellow Catholics,” Newport wrote.
Moving from the pious to the unaffiliated, Rep. Ron Paul achieves disproportionate support.
According to the poll, 19% of Republicans who do not have a formal religious identity support Paul and his libertarian platform. This comes while 10% of all Republicans identified as Paul supporters, according to the Gallup poll.
“Republicans with no religious identity give Ron Paul almost twice the level of support that he gets nationally,” wrote Newport. “This reflects at least in part the youthful skew in Paul's support and the tendency for young Americans to have no formal religious identity.”
The Gallup survey was conducted over the phone from December 1 to December 25 with a random sample of 11,405 Republicans and Republican-leaning independents. The maximum margin of error is plus or minus 1%.
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