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. Bo

    There are many on this blog who claim to be a “free thinker”.

    I woke up this morning with the thought of just “what is a free thinker”? I spun it it around in my head because the prase just doesn’t make any sense, nobody can really be a free thinker because we all depend on the thoughts of people who have preceeded us and they to depended on the the thoughts of people who preceeded them, etc., etc., so nobody can really be a “free thinker”. The question remains: Why do people call themselves “free thinkers”? I decided to go to the Internet, but, for me, that was no help because the people who were giving the definition of “free thinkers" were giving their own ideas and definitions and there was no hard definition of “free thinkers”. There was only one thing they all had in in common, “free thinkers” were people who wanted to separate themselves from anything influences that they considered to be of a religious nature with out giving any thought to the fact that they must depend on what people before them has “reasoned” or “discovered”, so it wasn’t really their “free thinking” that brought them to their conclusions; in many cases what they think of “free thinking” is the what others have already concluded. So, it just goes in a dizzy circle: There no clear definition of “free thinker”. I’m left with the question: is a person who attaches to themselves the label of “free thinker” another way of saying, “I’m an atheist”?

    January 22, 2012 at 9:45 am |
  2. George

    This was no test. This is blatant hypocracy. The white evangelical moral majority have proven themselves facist, ignorant, duplicitous profiteers. They are willing to lie, cheat, steal, misrepresent, alter fact any other number of things, to suit their immediate need. The fact that they believe the earth is 6000 years old and they will go to heaven for eternity, minus the thirteen virgins (the only difference between them and terrorists), makes them very dangerous.

    January 22, 2012 at 9:43 am |
  3. Charles Schwabe

    I find it very worry some that we are commenting and worrying about which religious groups are favoring whom in a society where we want to separate church and state.

    January 22, 2012 at 9:43 am |
    • tom

      Well said...

      January 22, 2012 at 9:46 am |
  4. Kevin

    I'm tired of the near-complete lack of understanding in the media and general culture of what an Evangelical is. Evangelicals are not a voting bloc. Historic Evangelicalism (which dates back hundreds of years), centers on a high view of Christ and the Bible. I am an Evangelical pastor. I voted for Obama and probably will do so again. I believe Christianity (including Evangelicalism) mandates social justice, peacemaking, reconciliation, and, most of all, love.

    January 22, 2012 at 9:41 am |
    • George

      Unfortuanely you have a huge base of members who do not think like you, who lie, cheat and steal, are bigots, hate mongers and who have bigger mouths than you. They are the visible ones.

      January 22, 2012 at 9:45 am |
    • tom

      However, a lot of these same people do not always practice what they preach. Look at how many of them have been caught having adulterous affairs with other woman, men or have been caught with their hands in the cookie jar stealing from the very church they represent. Everyone should worship the god they choose...but don't try to force your beliefs on the rest of the world. There was a good reason our founding fathers believed in seperation of church and state. That is slipping away with all the influence these evangelicals and christians try to get involved in who gets elected for public office. Shame on them.

      January 22, 2012 at 9:53 am |
    • Kevin

      I humbly beg to differ. You are basing your conclusion on a stereotype presented by the media. It does not fit at all with the vast majority of evangelicals I know and work with worldwide who are gracious, self-sacrificing, generous, thoughtful people, nor does it fit with the very significant work of global justice spearheaded by evangelical individuals and organizations.

      January 22, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
  5. demolib

    In addition to ignoring Newt's indiscretions, South Carolina evangelicals are big time supporters of military intervention around the world and they hold very little regard for "thou shalt not kill" and "love thy neighbor as thy self" (unless it is someone who belongs to their church or someone else's unborn fetus.) They advocate reducing government and taxes but conveniently exclude the military which for South Carolina supports it welfare state. I'm not a Ron Paul supporter, but it is no surprise that he received so little support in South Carolina. If he were to become President, South Carolina unemployment would skyrocket as he reduced our military spending.
    In short there is nothing Christian about modern day evangelicals – calling them "evangelicals" without including the word Christian is appropriate.

    January 22, 2012 at 9:32 am |
    • Bob

      That's because they don't know the teachings of Jesus and are brainwashed by their ministers.

      January 22, 2012 at 9:39 am |
  6. Leigh1234567

    This should absolutely convince anyone with half a brain that these self-anointed "evangelical Christians" are the most hypocritical bunch on the face of this planet, cherry-picking the Bible to suit their agenda. They pick a 2-time adulterer, full-time liar and disgusting narcissist as their Chosen One. Oh wait...Christians are all about forgiving, they say? LOL!!! Right!!!! They'll forgive Newt and his grotesque behavior but CRUCIFIED Clinton for his dalliance with Monica. Just like Newt was crucifying Clinton for his dalliance with Monica while at the same time poking Callista on the side while married to Marianne.

    These "conservatives" are all alike. So quick to judge, so quick to condemn and hate. EXCEPT WHEN IT'S ONE OF THEIR OWN.


    January 22, 2012 at 9:22 am |
    • Bob

      Unfortunately, I agree.

      January 22, 2012 at 9:27 am |
    • Jeff

      You are so right! Perhaps the Evangelicals should actually try to READ the bible for once.

      January 22, 2012 at 9:34 am |
    • tom

      You are SO right...but why doesn't the rest of the world see this?? These hypocrites spend so much energy hating, condemning threatening, and yes even killing anyone who doesn't agree with them and basically are the most intolerant group of supposedly 'god loving' people that they don't even realize that no god would ever condone this behavior in his name. There was a good reason our founding fathers insisted on separation of church and state and this proves how right they were.

      January 22, 2012 at 10:11 am |
  7. AKH

    This sickens me. Gingrich is openly a bad human being. Why aren't the evangelicals voting for Santorum? I don't agree with his views, but at least he seems to be a genuine guy. I believe it was Newt's openly racist comments/fight with Juan Williams at one of the debates that delivered this victory. Sad.

    January 22, 2012 at 9:20 am |
  8. Larry Long

    Gingrich fits well with evangelicals – Don't do as I do...do as I say! How easy is that? Hypocrites, Hypocrites, HIPOCRITES!!! And these people believe in marriage? What ever happened to "Practice what you preach."

    January 22, 2012 at 9:18 am |
  9. Uthor

    Even as a kid, when I hung out with a group of "born agains" for a year or so, I quickly understood that evangelicals are often hypocritical–and many "turn to religion" as way of dealing with some deep psychological problems and low self-esteem.

    So it's not at all surprising that they would sacrifice their supposed principles to possibly further their selfish agenda. Interestingly, many might tell you that they aslo want a smaller government, yet they wish to rule the thoughts and conduct of the population's daily lives. Sort of like the Taliban.

    January 22, 2012 at 9:13 am |
    • Bob

      Some turn to religion to counter low self -esteem, some turn to alcohol and drugs.

      January 22, 2012 at 9:16 am |
  10. Marshall

    Keep religion,especially evangelical christians ,out of politics and the presidential race.Say no to newt and yes to Ron Paul.

    January 22, 2012 at 9:13 am |
  11. Sue

    Our country is in deep trouble and it has NOTHING to do with President Obama's perceived performance, the state of our economy, jobs, or unemployment. It has EVERYTHING to do with the fact that the political arena has turned into a circus full of clowns spewing vitriolic, odious, and hateful messages. Not to mention that their drive for power has caused them to lose all sight of morals and decency. And even worse than this is the fact that the people of South Carolina saw fit to reward Gingrich, whose record of ethics violations, illicit affairs, and questionable dealings are legendary. I hope all you evangelicals are in church today asking forgiveness. While Gingrich doesn't have a chance of ever winning the presidency, I find it sad that the people/evangelicals of South Carolina are so misguided as to back such an immoral human being.

    January 22, 2012 at 9:10 am |
    • Bob

      I agree

      January 22, 2012 at 9:12 am |
    • HeavenSent

      Jesus already told us that when folks refuse to learn His truth ...

      And I will give children [to be] their princes, and babes shall rule over them.

      Isaiah 3:4


      January 22, 2012 at 11:34 am |
    • Elephant in the room

      Jesus didn't write Isaiah.


      January 22, 2012 at 11:37 am |
    • HeavenSent

      Elephant, unfortunately, you are blinded by the sin of pride (aka arrogant). Due to your blindness, doesn't mean others stop seeing.


      January 22, 2012 at 11:56 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      HS, the skunk smells his own hole first.

      January 22, 2012 at 6:39 pm |
  12. brian

    Most of you just don't get it, this is certainly not at all about, religion, God, evangelicals, or even morals. ITS ABOUT BLACK AND WHITE, AND THE GOOD OLE BOYS WHO LOST THE ELECTION IN 08

    January 22, 2012 at 9:05 am |
    • Bob

      I don't think you get it.
      If you live in the Bible belt, religion plays a very important part.

      January 22, 2012 at 9:14 am |
    • demolib

      The Civil War started in South Carolina but never ended there. Those who think the color of our Scottish-African American President's skin has nothing to do with this election have their heads in the sand. Had George Bush done exactly what Obama has done in the past three years, he would be declared a saint.

      January 22, 2012 at 9:38 am |
  13. Keith

    God has turned His back on this nation. He's been giving us what we want: crappy choice "A" or crappy choice "B"-but it's still crap. Who counted the votes in Iowa, anyway-the same clowns from Florida who gave us the debacle in 2000? Personally, I put my trust in the Lord and not some useless politician. I have more faith in a purple thumb election in a 3rd World country than I do ours. The outcome for November has already been determined, this dog and pony show facade is just to make the citizens believe they are actually part of the process.

    January 22, 2012 at 9:04 am |
    • Bob

      You are right. Anyone who knows the Bible knows that this world is spiraling to total Godlessness.
      Just look at the comments. Jesus: " Will I find faith when I return?" I'm afraid he will find very little.
      Atheism is the strongest growing religion on the planet. Hypocrites abound.... not just evangelicals, but people from all walks
      of life. The problem is they really don't know God, just a bunch of sheep listening to a blind or evil teacher. Atheists are correct
      in their judgement of many Evangelicals, but the Atheists have problems of their own.

      January 22, 2012 at 9:10 am |
    • Dina

      I suggest you vote for Obama, who has lived a life following Christ's teaching far more than have these candidates. Go ahead, dare to think about it independent of your minister.

      January 22, 2012 at 9:15 am |
    • ChrisM

      Steve, still believing that God gives a rats ass about American politics? Just keep trusting that imaginary friend on your shoulder,your personal sky-being whom you wished into existence to make you feel better for all that guilt you feel about the bad things you have done in your life. Don't take responsibility for them, just trust the imaginary friend you have created to forgive you. Sheesh!

      January 22, 2012 at 9:24 am |
    • MikeMedford

      Newt Gingrich is blessed by God. God loved King David. God understands that bold leaders have virility and passion. Christian evangelicals understand that God put Callista in front of Newt for a purpose, so that Newt could leave a wife who had gotten old and chubby, and therefore projected weakness, and be replaced by a young, blonde, slender woman who demonstrates Godly strength. David killed, dismembered, and brought 200 foreskins to the father of the woman he wanted, thus proving his strength and helping fulfill God's wish for the genocide of the people inhabiting the land God wanted for His people. God loves strength.

      Evangelical Christians are led to support strength as well, which is why we prefer Gingrich to a weak leader like Obama. Proof of Obama's weakness??? He is still married to his first wife, when he could easily have traded up.

      January 22, 2012 at 9:54 am |
    • HeavenSent

      And I will give children [to be] their princes, and babes shall rule over them.

      Isaiah 3:4


      January 22, 2012 at 11:35 am |
    • HotAirAce

      America is not favored by god because there are no gods. The angst believers are feeling is the fear of change and loss of power as the world slowly discards childish religious beliefs. Atheism is not the problem – the problem is believers ignoring scientific facts and resisting inevitable change, and doing whatever they can to maintain the (their!) status quo, regardless of how stupid it is. Voting for Newt is just an example of that.

      January 22, 2012 at 12:37 pm |
    • Keith

      Dan 4:17 This matter [is] by the decree of the watchers, and the demand by the word of the holy ones: to the intent that the living may know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will, and setteth up over it the basest of men.

      January 22, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      It would so nice it believers translated drivel from The Babble into English...

      January 22, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Keith says: blahahhhablah. BLAH. Blah, blah. third-world country. Blah, bah. Purple. blahs,,,a faith. blah.

      January 22, 2012 at 6:30 pm |
    • Keith

      1 Canadian opinion + 1 Canadian opinion = 0

      January 22, 2012 at 7:53 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Poor little Keef.

      January 22, 2012 at 10:09 pm |
  14. Les

    Evangelicals = zero morals

    January 22, 2012 at 9:03 am |
  15. Bob

    Evangelicals can be hypocrites, but Jesus is not.
    Be careful you're hatred of evangelicals hypocrisy doesn't blind your own self.
    At least Evangelicals acknowledge the existence of God.

    January 22, 2012 at 9:00 am |
    • jd

      The Bible tells us even Satan believes in God so what's the big deal.

      January 22, 2012 at 9:06 am |
    • Bob

      Good point, but you know what I mean.
      " The fool in his heart says there is no God."

      January 22, 2012 at 9:11 am |
    • JT

      You people make me so glad I don't have the delusion/virus you are afflicted with.

      January 22, 2012 at 9:36 am |
    • humanbean

      It's so funny when people make the statement, "even Satan believes in God." Seeing as how Satan was supposedly created by God and thrown out of heaven by God. Unlike human beings, he doesn't have to "believe" in anything. He's supposedly seen it first hand.

      It's all really just more jibberish in the grand scheme of things.

      January 22, 2012 at 9:57 am |
    • HeavenSent

      jd, you posted "The Bible tells us even Satan believes in God so what's the big deal."

      Answer: God made Lucifer (original name for satan) the best of the best, brightest of the bright. Lucifer worked his way up to become cherubim (overseeing other angels) that guarded God's mercy seat. Lucifer got to big for his britches (sin of pride aka what we call big ego today), got 1/3 of the angels in Heaven to rebel against God. Why? Because Lucifer wanted to be bigger and better than God and overthrow God.


      January 22, 2012 at 11:47 am |
    • Bizarre


      ... and in the end, the handsome, righteous prince wins the bitter battle, and they all live happily ever after.


      January 22, 2012 at 1:12 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Bizarre, you posted your joke of "HeavenSent,... and in the end, the handsome, righteous prince wins the bitter battle, and they all live happily ever after. Amen."

      Answer: EVIL is caused by those believing and blinded by their own ego.


      January 22, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
  16. Engineer in Raleigh

    Good religious people know that all these so-called "facts" about Newt sleeping around, getting divorced twice, and getting rich off the federal government are really just tricks from the debbil. Praise the lawd and pass the Kool-Aid!

    January 22, 2012 at 8:58 am |
  17. Reality

    Having trouble deleting God from your neurons? A quick and enjoyable solution !!

    Watch Julia Sweeney's monologue "Letting Go Of God"

    Buy the DVD or watch it on Showtime. Check your cable listings.

    from http://www.amazon.com
    "Letting Go of God ~ Julia Sweeney (DVD – 2008)

    Five Star Rating

    January 22, 2012 at 8:55 am |
  18. Bob

    It goes to show you how evangelicals are the biggest hypocrites alive.
    Jesus warned about them and their hypocrisy.

    January 22, 2012 at 8:54 am |
  19. AGuest9

    How ironic that these people who can say they stand before their god can support an adulterer and thief who misappropriated public funds! Aren't those points addressed by their 6th and 7th commandments? Funny how those commandments can be forgotten when they want to practice bigotry.

    January 22, 2012 at 8:52 am |
    • Bob


      January 22, 2012 at 8:54 am |
    • HeavenSent

      How do we know "those" people are for Newt? Oh, because the media said so. LOL.

      January 22, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Oh, so you're not supporting Newtie, HS? Who, then? Santorum? Look up his record in Pennsylvania and see what the citizens there had to say about him. Or are you fond of Ron Paul? Might as well not vote at all, then.

      Really, HS, you are such a goof-ball.

      January 22, 2012 at 6:41 pm |
  20. Mike

    Awesome. Religious people not even knowing what they stand for. So now can't you people stop with the disgusting and nauseating rhetoric of family values and small gov't? Huh? What??.....thats what I thought.

    January 22, 2012 at 8:50 am |
    • Bob

      Bingo! Bingo!

      January 22, 2012 at 8:55 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.