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. bry55

    Anybody but a Mormon, right.

    January 21, 2012 at 10:52 pm |
    • Donald Shimoda

      If your happiness depends on what somebody else does, I guess you do have a problem.

      January 21, 2012 at 10:58 pm |
    • bry55

      I meant that as the mantra of the hypocritical evangelicals. And I mean that as only to the hypocritical ones. I know many good ones with real values.

      January 21, 2012 at 11:20 pm |
    • Donald Shimoda

      In your concern you are depending on others for you happiness. Do was pleases you and worry not about the choices of others.

      January 21, 2012 at 11:27 pm |
    • AGuest9

      Close bry55, anybody but a Mormon or an atheist.

      January 22, 2012 at 10:09 am |
  2. Laugh about it, shout about it, when you've got to choose, anyway you look at it you lose.

    Gingrich wins the battle and loses the war. Evangelicals are 26% of the populace, and heavily alligned with the reactionary right. Gingrich needs then to win the nomination, but their views are unacceptable to over 50%, so alligning with them is a sure way to lose the election.

    The results of kissing evangelical butt: Win the nomination, lose the election. Win the battle, lose the war.

    Gingrich already is repellant to over 50% of the voters, and being seen as in bed with the cross-suckers, well, barring some economic regression, Obama looks like he's got it . . . not that he's anything special.

    Look like we are in for yet another presidential election where every candidate is unsavory, where we all have to hold our noses and vote.

    January 21, 2012 at 10:50 pm |
    • Donald Shimoda

      If it's never our fault, we can't take responsibility for it. If we can't take responsibility for it, we'll always be its victim.

      January 21, 2012 at 11:33 pm |
    • horseyone62

      Sadly, though, Mrs. Robinson...the problem is that when the god squad gets motivated, they turn out in droves- that's why they all drive vans and multiply like bunnies. It's like Stepford Wives or something equally frightening. They turn out the votes and we normal people need to do the same. At least at this point we still outnumber them. Let's reclaim our nation!!

      January 21, 2012 at 11:49 pm |
  3. Robert

    I'm an elitist. Why? I have been married to my first and only wife for 9 years, never had an affair despite having to resist a few of the temptation we all have, and I got no one pregnant before I got married. I live in a city on a coast in a blue state. I hold a passport and I read newspapers. If I were a real family-values American, I would live in "Real America," have gotten half the trailer park pregnant, I would have at least 3 marriages, a string of affairs, I'd tell crude jokes except on Sundays (just listen to Blue Collar Radio), and get stone drunk every weekend. At some point I'd go to a church service that would feel like a rock concert, announce my sins to a cheering crowd, then go around talking about how morally superior I am. But I'm a just a once-married elitist. Why, I even prefer moccachino to black coffee, my values are hopelessly un-American. Maybe Newt can teach me good morals.

    January 21, 2012 at 10:49 pm |
    • horseyone62

      Sorry, you do not qualify as you don't have at least 6 children whom you expect the government to provide all education, food, clothing, etc. for. You also forgot to mention how often you kick your pregnant dog (whom you, of course, did not spay and whose puppies you drown in the river twice a year). Finally, you neglected to mention the hospital ER bills when the neighbor heard all the crashing and screaming and your wife ended up in the hospital, thanks to your "issues".
      Sorry pal, you do not qualify!

      January 21, 2012 at 11:13 pm |
    • Donald Shimoda

      Listen to what you know instead of what you fear.

      January 21, 2012 at 11:34 pm |
    • Stormfront


      You're confusing evangelicals with n-i-g-g-e-r-s. I'll bet you prefer to f_ck the n-i-g-g-e-r-s tho.

      January 22, 2012 at 2:36 pm |
    • Stormfront


      You're confusing evangelicals with blacks. It's blacks that do all of that. Of course, you probably spend all your time trying to hook up with those things.

      January 22, 2012 at 2:47 pm |
  4. john cougar

    Oh well, so much for family values. I cannot believe there is 65% of the population are evangelists. I did not think there were actually that many "sheep". I hear the president likes mutton for dinner.

    January 21, 2012 at 10:48 pm |
    • Donald Shimoda

      The mark of your ignorance is the depth of your belief in injustice and tragedy. What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the Master calls the butterfly.

      January 21, 2012 at 11:36 pm |
  5. mike from iowa

    History, I believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government. This marks the lowest grade of ignorance of which their civil as well as religious leaders will always avail themselves for their own purposes.
    -Thomas Jefferson to Alexander von Humboldt, Dec. 6, 1813.

    January 21, 2012 at 10:47 pm |
    • Donald Shimoda

      Bad things are not the worst things that can happen to us. Nothing is the worst thing that can happen to us!

      January 21, 2012 at 10:48 pm |
    • Zombie Jesus

      Donald, you need to tell your psychiatrist to stop the electric shock therapy. Your head needs to clear, because your ideas are mush.

      January 21, 2012 at 10:58 pm |
    • Donald Shimoda

      One man's mush is another man's fictional reality. Why is your reality more believable than mine or anyone else's?

      January 21, 2012 at 11:37 pm |
    • Zombie Jesus wants brains, but none to be found in Shimoda

      "Fictional Reality." That there's another masterpiece of mush.

      January 22, 2012 at 2:23 am |
  6. starchief5

    Evangelical Christian here. I was actually shocked when evangelicals (I assume they were part of that audience) actually stood and clapped when Newt attacked the messengers of his philandering lifestyle instead of wanting him to explain his ex-wife's accusations. I think there should be more of an explanation than "she's lying." What suckers we are to get played for our votes by characters like Gingrich. No wonder we evangelicals get ridiculed like we do.

    January 21, 2012 at 10:47 pm |
    • bry55

      I was amazed that the audience of that debate bought the act by Gingrich. He knew the question was cominmg and he was prepared with a response where he distracted everyone and turned it on the moderator. And these people, including S.C. bought it. Personally, when I saw the video of his ex-wife, I believed her and couldn't believe all the family value people who turned on her.

      January 21, 2012 at 11:26 pm |
    • horseyone62

      Thank you, you have summed up many things.

      January 21, 2012 at 11:38 pm |
  7. mike from iowa

    Christianity neither is, nor ever was a part of the common law.
    -Thomas Jefferson, letter to Dr. Thomas Cooper, February 10, 1814

    January 21, 2012 at 10:47 pm |
  8. mike from iowa

    They [the clergy] believe that any portion of power confided to me, will be exerted in opposition to their schemes. And they believe rightly; for I have sworn upon the altar of god, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.
    -Thomas Jefferson to Dr. Benjamin Rush, Sept. 23, 1800

    January 21, 2012 at 10:46 pm |
    • horseyone62

      You are completely on target. Never thought I would agree with an Evangelical, virtually all I've been exposed to are ignorant, uneducated, narrow-minded and full of hatred for anyone who does not share their views. You've opened my mind.

      January 21, 2012 at 11:33 pm |
  9. tallulah13

    This victory by Gingrich simply show the utter hypocrisy of evangelicals. What a corrupt bunch they are.

    January 21, 2012 at 10:46 pm |
    • mike from iowa


      January 21, 2012 at 10:48 pm |
    • Donald Shimoda

      Your only obligation in any lifetime is to be true to yourself. Being true to anyone else or anything else is not only impossible, but the mark of one not yet awake.

      January 21, 2012 at 11:39 pm |
  10. Bob

    The vast majority of American Christians, no matter what they say or how they really feel about themselves, are not actually Christian. They just co-opted the name. I've known a few real Christians. They were amazing.

    January 21, 2012 at 10:46 pm |
    • The Big Fat One

      The true Christians I've known were morally repugnant. They fully believed everyone – everyone – deserves eternal punishment. Something inside them was broken.

      January 22, 2012 at 12:13 am |
  11. Janine from TX

    Evangelicals are showing their true stripes. Hypocrisy is alive and well in the South. Newt is a joke and an embarrassment. He's also a freakin' lobbyist. What is wrong with people?

    January 21, 2012 at 10:46 pm |
    • Mirrormanxkl

      No this is more than mere hypocrisy. This is IDIOCY!!! You vote for a truly corrupt man like Newt? You have to be kidding. Gingrich is probably toast the minute he hits the big states which are not quite as dull as are some of Carolina's best voters. Gingrich goes nowhere and Santorum goes even less. Santorum is the ultimate in disgusting people. A man would legislate pork for his own contributor directly, as if made to order! You can vote for that? YOu have to be slow to do that, there is no other explanation to me. Honestly.

      January 21, 2012 at 11:05 pm |
    • Donald Shimoda

      It is by not always thinking of yourself, if you can manage it, that you might somehow be happy. Until you make room in your life for someone as important to you as yourself, you will always be searching and lost.

      January 21, 2012 at 11:32 pm |
  12. mike from iowa

    evangelical Christians will vote for whoever thumps a bible.

    January 21, 2012 at 10:45 pm |
  13. Russ139

    Newt is the new Richard Nixon

    January 21, 2012 at 10:44 pm |
  14. Iqbal Khan

    Enforcing American Hegemony – A Timeline – Flagrancy to Reason
    "I think there is no real argument that the historical lesson for the United States in the 20th Century has been the need for continued strong American involvement.
    http://www.flagrancy.net/timeline.html – Cached

    January 21, 2012 at 10:42 pm |
    • Donald Shimoda

      Allow the world to live as it chooses, and allow yourself to live as you choose.

      January 21, 2012 at 10:47 pm |
  15. Johan S

    Gingrich may be bad, but Romney is even worse than Gingrich .. just look on youtube for all the videos about the real Romney.

    January 21, 2012 at 10:42 pm |
    • Janine from TX

      Agreed, the entire GOP field is a mess. That's great news and no big surprise.

      January 21, 2012 at 10:47 pm |
    • Marc in Tenn

      That's right. Because he's rich and a Mormon. Two things 40% of SC Republicans apparently detest.

      January 21, 2012 at 11:15 pm |
  16. Jesse L. Cairns

    Way to go, South Carolina. Still setting the bar high, I see.

    January 21, 2012 at 10:42 pm |
  17. jo an

    Newt is the closest one to Napoleon...who took France to war to conquer Europe...he met his Waterloo...So will Newt...Newt is a sicko...is that what we want to lead us????

    January 21, 2012 at 10:41 pm |
  18. mike


    January 21, 2012 at 10:41 pm |
  19. SurRy

    They won't take the Mormon, but they'll take the guy with THREE WIVES!

    January 21, 2012 at 10:39 pm |
    • Russ139

      Best line of the entire Primary. Perfect.

      January 21, 2012 at 10:42 pm |
  20. meme65

    ya, let's put 2 adulters in the white house and really show the world what were made of. r u kidding me. he is a double talking snake. you have foot his bill long enough don't you think? he has gotten fat on your hard earned money. michelle B. called him out on some things, kickbacks from fanny-mae wasn't it? just because they are out of it dont forget his character. WAKE UP

    January 21, 2012 at 10:39 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.