January 21st, 2012
09:53 PM ET

Passing significant test, Gingrich wins more S.C. evangelicals than rivals

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com

(CNN) - If there were any doubts that Newt Gingrich, a thrice-married convert to Catholicism, could connect with the evangelical voters who make up the Republican Party base, Saturday’s South Carolina primary put them to rest, with the former House Speaker winning twice as many evangelical votes as anyone else in the race.

Evangelical Christians made up two-thirds of the South Carolina electorate on Saturday, and Gingrich took 44% of their votes, according to CNN’s exit poll.

Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum, who rode evangelical support to victory in the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses earlier this month, each got 21% of the evangelical vote in South Carolina.

Gingrich got roughly the same share of the South Carolina evangelical vote as Mike Huckabee, a former Baptist preacher, did four years ago.

The former House speaker campaigned vigorously among evangelicals in the Palmetto State, talking about “values” issues and speaking to and holding conference calls with hundreds of evangelical pastors.

“Whatever his personal values may be, he certainly talked effectively and cogently to the kinds of issues that evangelicals care about,” said John Green, an expert in religion and politics at the University of Akron.

“Gingrich had a very intensive campaign mentioning social issues, less as policy matter than as test of the broader ideology of candidates,” Green said.

An accusation last week from Gingrich’s second wife that he asked for an “open marriage” raised questions about how much so-called “values voters” would support him.

“To a degree, it will give [evangelical voters] pause, but there’s a much more insatiable appetite to defeat President Obama,” said David Brody, chief political correspondent at CBN News at the Christian Broadcasting Network.

“Gingrich has never claimed to be a patron saint,” Brody said. “People have known for years about Gingrich’s marriage issues. In a way, his well-known history of troubled marriage works for him here.”

Last weekend, a group of conservative Christian leaders – evangelicals, mostly – reached consensus around supporting Santorum, but many experts said the development came to late to seriously influence the race.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Politics

soundoff (671 Responses)
  1. Christian Faith

    Not all evangelicals will be voting for Newt Gingrich. Not all evangelicals will be voting Republican. Not all evangelicals think that there is any ONE party that is truly the uncontested "party of God." The alarm clock is going off loudly all across America, and its time for Christians to wake up and see that most politicians ARE NOT MORAL LEADERS at all, but instead, they are politicians first and foremost, practiced in the art of political chicanery!!! They come masquerading as angels of light, and pick and choose only those parts of the Gospel that will deliver the votes for them, while conveniently leaving the other parts out. This is why Jesus never undertook any form of political discourse or got involved with endorsements for world leaders.

    January 21, 2012 at 10:38 pm |
    • popeye47

      So how long have the so called Christian been two faced. Oh by the way, next time you are in church make sure you put some money in the collection plate. That way they can elect another Christian president.

      January 21, 2012 at 10:42 pm |
    • midgick

      sorry to bust your bubble pal. Jesus was the equivalent of our 60's & 70's activists. The comparisons are uncanny in their similarity. The difference was his elders and the occupying Romans didn't have "free speech" and the Roman way of punishment was nailing people to crosses as most peoples did in those times to punish soeone who went against the occupying powers.

      January 21, 2012 at 10:49 pm |
    • popeye47

      midgick- Jesus also said:He said to render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's and to God the things that are God's. He never stated it was his plan to over throw the government of Caesar.

      January 21, 2012 at 11:12 pm |
  2. Harry Bradford

    Typical. Gingrich is acceptable, but President Obama, who drove his roomie at Occidental College crazy by nagging about to do more for poor people, isn't. The mind boggles!

    January 21, 2012 at 10:37 pm |
  3. Atheist

    God died tonight. R.I.P. Hooray! Now, let's party.

    January 21, 2012 at 10:37 pm |
    • Fathom1

      Nietsche: "God is dead"
      God: "Nietsche is dead"

      January 22, 2012 at 10:06 am |
  4. Iqbal Khan


    January 21, 2012 at 10:37 pm |
  5. midgick

    you conservative moral right wing Christians disgust me. The man committed adultery, lied and was censored in Congress , his company has made millions off the backs of we the citizens and yet you flock to this creep. All he has to say is has repented or better yet he attacks the people who bring up his fantastic immoral lifestyle and you clowns cheer him on. I hope you keep supporting him, then we will have President Obama for 4 more years. OK, I guess that's a fair trade.

    January 21, 2012 at 10:36 pm |
  6. Marty Luther

    It figures that the Newt is the evangelicals choice, he fits right in with their Manson Family values.

    January 21, 2012 at 10:36 pm |
    • Jesus

      The Christian religion was desperate for member ship in the early days. To accomplish their goals was the dogma that you are forgiven yoiur sins, if you are remorsefull and believe in all the other Christian dogma. No matter how atrocious the crime, in Christianity, there is always forgiveness. Everything from stepping out on your ill wife to sending millions to the gas chamber is all forgiven in Christianity....all forgiven because they need members, especially rich ones.

      January 22, 2012 at 9:04 am |
  7. Starnexus

    I sincerely hope gingrich wins the nomination....That way Obama can be assured a second term.....

    January 21, 2012 at 10:35 pm |
    • Harry Bradford


      January 21, 2012 at 10:39 pm |
    • Jesus

      Too bad...if Romney won, the babes he stashes in condos all over America would come forth one by one in hand with Gloria Allred to announce their role in Willard's life.

      January 22, 2012 at 9:06 am |
  8. hillplus

    Barabbas, we want Barabbas!!! The new 'family values' party of South Carolina! Once upon a time people like you were called Sadducees and Pharisees. Shameful!!

    January 21, 2012 at 10:34 pm |
    • Jesus

      Hey, there are all kinds of families...not just one. Gingrich loves the ladies. We celebrate that with some others, why not with Newt? He and Mormon Romney got 68% of the vote. Apparently, a male having lots of babes is now a family value. Now if I just take advantage of that!

      January 22, 2012 at 9:10 am |
  9. Michael

    Shows how much these "Christians" really believe in their god, so much so that they ignore his teachings.

    January 21, 2012 at 10:34 pm |
    • Starnexus

      So true but seriously how could we take anyone who believes in the bible as the literal word of god seriously anyway...

      January 21, 2012 at 10:37 pm |
  10. A confirmation of Bigotry.

    According to exit polls, 65% of those voting defined themselves as evangelicals, 35% did not. Of those that aren't Evangelicals... 38% voted for Mitt and 33% voted for Newt. Of those that are evangelicals, 44% voted for Newt and only 21% for Mitt.

    Make no mistake about it. Mitt lost tonight because of his religion.

    This is proof that though progress has been made since the 1960's, bigotry is still alive and well in the south, particularly religious bigotry.

    January 21, 2012 at 10:32 pm |
    • horseyone62

      3000 lb. gorilla ignored, how about the possibility that these imbeciles just do not want a black man as potus? Did that ever occur to you? They might not even care one way or the other who wins, just as long as Obama is defeated. These people probably don't even know what the platforms of these GOPs are. I grew up in GA and my parents are bigots, not even ashamed to say so! BTW, I am a white, married, middle-class(well, used to be before de-regulation and Wall St. screwed me over) mother who is sick-to-death of the status quo with our broken political system. There will be more numerous and more violent protests in the future if the usual hand-out to the corporate sector and screwing of the citizens continues. Count me in!

      January 21, 2012 at 10:57 pm |
  11. LadyVa

    LOL He passes the " We are all hypocrites" test in SC, where we can preach family values and still can vote for a ego maniac with a love of chasing skirts! Good for all of you for proving that you who vote for one of unethical proportions, are just like him.

    January 21, 2012 at 10:32 pm |
  12. Ron

    Once again, evangelicals show that they don't really stand behind their convictions. They overwhelmingly support a man who has had two AFFAIRS on two different wives over the other three who have been married to the same woman without having affairs. Oh, I forgot......Newt said he had sought "redemption", or "forgiveness" from God. So that excuses everything. Talk about shirking personal responsibility....I guess the desire to beat Obama must over ride all their personal morals and convictions. Pretty sad, huh?

    January 21, 2012 at 10:31 pm |
  13. Dan

    A sad day for evangelicals. Also anyone notice Ron Paul is omitted from the results graphic on the front page? typical

    January 21, 2012 at 10:31 pm |
  14. A new dawn

    The hypocrisy is hard to fathom.

    I think religion needs to cease as a viable way of thought. Seriously...

    January 21, 2012 at 10:31 pm |
  15. Brett in Memphis

    Wow, as an atheist, I could not be happier tonight. I have been under the assumption that religion is going to be with us for a very long time, and I would have to slowly wait it out. But oh no, tonight, South Carolina Evangelicals did what I've been wanting to do for so long. They took their own sword in hand and PLUNGED it directly into the heart of their God by nominating Newt Gingrich who has lived in complete violation of Christian law. They have fallen to their own hatred. I am astounded.

    January 21, 2012 at 10:30 pm |
    • horseyone62


      January 21, 2012 at 11:00 pm |
    • 80shiling

      Poetic justice..... Well said..

      January 22, 2012 at 12:27 am |
    • JT

      Great observation. Evangelicals are so conflicted as to where they should focus most of their hate. They are caught between who can get the black man out of office or who will promise to instill their version of Sharia law onto all us hellbound sinners who do not share their delusions.

      January 22, 2012 at 9:29 am |
  16. JB in Dallas

    Ok... so let's put the "Party of Family values" or "Values voter" B.S. finally to a rest. What a bunch of hypocrites, for years we've been putting up with evangelical's "Holy-er than thou" routine, we can finally tell them to stuff it.

    January 21, 2012 at 10:29 pm |
  17. popeye47

    So much for the family values platform of the Republicans. President Clinton was such a womanizer, but Newt is okay. More hypocrites as the usual. And they wonder why I don't attend their church

    January 21, 2012 at 10:27 pm |
  18. Pam

    @AdmrlAckbar: I think it's because everyone is so disgusted. What a great showing of the evangelical policy makers. How embarrassing for our country. I do not even want to think about it. Family Values...not so much.

    January 21, 2012 at 10:26 pm |
    • A new dawn

      Not embarrassing for our country at all. Only a certain segment of it. 😉

      January 21, 2012 at 10:32 pm |
  19. The Bitter Politics of Pity

    Newt Gingrich: A Man in Full, a complete man, a whole man. Let's bring him to Obama as a sacrifice without blemish.

    January 21, 2012 at 10:20 pm |
    • JB in Dallas

      without blemish? seriously?

      January 21, 2012 at 10:30 pm |
    • The Bitter Politics of Pity

      Ok, we'll tart him up a bit. No one will know the difference.

      January 21, 2012 at 10:32 pm |
  20. AdmrlAckbar

    Politics and religion in one article! And I am somehow the first poster... I expected 50 pages of posts within the first minute of this going up....

    January 21, 2012 at 10:04 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      South Carolina–first in our hearts and last in everything else. Including morality, common sense, integrity, and intelligence.

      January 21, 2012 at 10:07 pm |
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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.