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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. ruemorgue

    Eye of Newt passes the Evangelical Test? Is this a joke? An arrogant, serial cheater *passes* the *test* ??? If this is true, then the self-righteous Evangelicals are disgusting as Newt.

    January 21, 2012 at 11:21 pm |
  2. There must be somethin in the water!!111!

    Where a normal human brain has a frontal cortex, the Christian brain has a very tiny hamster, powering their bizarre thought processes by means of dancing a frenetic James Brownesque shuffle around logic, reason, and the evidence of all senses, on a very tiny treadmill.

    January 21, 2012 at 11:20 pm |
    • anticrhist

      Just wait until I show up.. these born again'ers will just line up to bow at my feet.

      They love my foreign policy.. and they reject a good family men for "theological" words and symbols for a really great role model in Newt. Newt is such a fairy tale heroic name; I love Irony and playing jokes on suckers.

      January 21, 2012 at 11:27 pm |
  3. Tom

    What in hell do the evangelicals really stand for. They don't make sense to me and it is time to start asking for real answers to the issues facing America. The repubs better start satisfying themselves that their candidate undrstands the problems and the fix before they select a candidate. If they don't the voters will.

    January 21, 2012 at 11:18 pm |
  4. Wonder

    Actually, if the evangelicals really believed in a literal interpretation of the Bible, they would feel that Mr. & Mrs. G. should both be executed (stoned) for adultery because of the affair they were carrying on while he was wed to Mrs. G. #2. But of course getting a black man out of the White House trumps the Bible any day. Woe unto you, scribes and pharisees!

    January 21, 2012 at 11:17 pm |
  5. cWhatsNew

    Doesn't his third wife look scary or it's just me. Just judging him for his wife's look, but I'd feel uncomfortable having a pair of staring fake eyes staring around you or in the house.

    January 21, 2012 at 11:15 pm |
  6. cWhatsNew

    SC clearly prefers a serial adult er and a guy fired from speaker's position as the result of ethics committee investigation. I'm NOT going to set my foot on the soil of SC just to stay away from those foul minds.

    January 21, 2012 at 11:13 pm |
  7. bad2worse

    Evangelickballs-Did angels come down and talk to these retards last night and tell them how to vote?

    January 21, 2012 at 11:12 pm |
  8. Richard Cheese

    I REALLY wish there was a Second Enlightenment, so the dimwitted of us can see these hucksters for what they really are, rather than fall prey to ignorance, "faith" and indoctrination. I want off this rock; you crazy Christians can have it and run it into the ground.

    January 21, 2012 at 11:12 pm |
  9. Kadie

    Let me get this straight - Bill Clinton has a fling and Republicans scream it makes him unfit to govern. But having not one but two mistresses (that we know about) makes him a Christian the South not only can relate to but want to run their country? Maybe secession not such a bad idea after all.

    Maybe HBO should add message to "Big Love" for the South: This is a TV show –Mormons are Christians and don't have multiple wives. Only Newt does.

    January 21, 2012 at 11:05 pm |
    • JDUB

      The "Evangelicals" don't care if someone kills babies, as long as they can get a black man out of the white house.

      January 21, 2012 at 11:07 pm |
  10. tony

    The first bone again President! Running for the Ovum Orifice.

    January 21, 2012 at 11:03 pm |
  11. JDUB

    Evangelicals believe that a woman gave birth to a baby without ever having relations with a man, among all kinds of other freaky weird things, yet they think Mormonism is a cult. How can so many people in this country be so gullible as to believe in so many fairy tales?

    January 21, 2012 at 11:02 pm |
    • JayNPhx

      They're all cults.

      January 21, 2012 at 11:12 pm |
  12. Sunny

    Here come the evangelicals to ruin the country again! I am a Christian, a follower of Jesus, and these people do NOT exemplify what Jesus taught.

    “Whatever his personal values may be, he certainly talked effectively and cogently to the kinds of issues that evangelicals care about,” - which means he SAID WHAT THEY WANT TO HEAR, and they bought it hook, line, and sinker. How dumb can you be? You're going to turn a bind eye to actions because a politician is giving you lip service? You idiots are bent on sucking our country down, on propelling us decades into the past.

    January 21, 2012 at 11:01 pm |
  13. tony

    When newt becomes president, he can have a whole string of Minica Lewinsky's. Might be what he aiming for?

    January 21, 2012 at 11:01 pm |
    • Sunny

      It's ok because "Callista doesn't care what he does," remember? I'm sure he has all sorts of mistresses, and Callista has so little self-respect that she turns a blind eye to it. Guess what you piece of trash? You will never be First Lady. We don't want hooorrres in the White House.

      January 21, 2012 at 11:04 pm |
  14. carm

    Newt is using the God card to get elected. Typical politician. They'll lie to get elected. He's no more a Christian than a muslim.

    January 21, 2012 at 11:01 pm |
    • frodo1008

      In fact, I have far more respect for honest Muslims than I do for so-called hypocritical Evangelistic Christians!!!

      I say this and I am a Christian.

      January 22, 2012 at 2:14 am |
  15. anonymoussource

    Isn't anyone else disturbed that Evangelicals claim that Romney and Paul don't represent conservative moral values......but the guy who leaves 2 potentially-terminal wives in their time of need, as well as cheats on those women with who knows how many people is the one being supported by those same Evangelicals?

    Whatever. As a Dem, I am thrilled that Gingrich might win...he'll be much easier to take down.

    January 21, 2012 at 10:59 pm |
  16. jimbo

    Look out Callista. Newt is on the prowl and will be asking for an open marriage shortly.

    January 21, 2012 at 10:57 pm |
  17. Russ139

    There are two people in the world that can make water run uphill. Kim Jung Un and Newt Gingrich.

    January 21, 2012 at 10:56 pm |
  18. E

    They do love their hyopcrits!

    January 21, 2012 at 10:55 pm |
  19. carm

    They prefer an adulterer than a faithful husband? Oh right, Romney is Mormon. God forbid they elect one of those! Hypocrites.

    January 21, 2012 at 10:55 pm |
    • ca3b

      agreed. I don't think I can stand to hear another statement from one of the GOP candidates about how they support family values, while the Democrats don't. And it's certainly better to run around on each of your wives (and dump the wives when you get tired of them) rather than support gay marriage.

      January 21, 2012 at 11:03 pm |
    • midgick

      The ancient Hebrews had no problems or problems about multiple wives. The more wives, the more children. The mortality rate was horrendous .It was ok during those times. They had problems about adultery. that was forbidden.

      Christianity has more forms and sects than any other religion in the world and each variation doesn't tolerate any other version but their own. Why should they be different from any other religion.

      January 21, 2012 at 11:31 pm |
  20. Lord British

    christians do believe in forgiveness....so if newt has asked the lord his god for forgiveness then the blood of the lamb has washed all his sins away. and a new person stands before you.
    this is why christians are better then others they forgive while other hold grudges

    January 21, 2012 at 10:54 pm |
    • carm

      The lord his god? I guess the lord his god was put on the shelf when he was f*#king around on his wives. He uses God when it's convenient, like most North American christians. Hypocrites.

      January 21, 2012 at 10:56 pm |
    • Russ139

      Unless your a 13 year old poor minority who robbed a 7-11. Then you got to do 30 years.

      January 21, 2012 at 10:59 pm |
    • benny4540

      yeah, but it's the selective natre of the standards that peeve everyone else.........the sanctimoniousness, the wwjd wrist bands, and the abiity to rationalize any behaviour of any politiciann they want to continue supporting regardless........newt is a decades long philanderer, his wife, if elected, would become first adulteress of the land, he's likely banging somebody on the side nnow, he was all over clinton making character in office an issue...he doesn't get the free good forgives me pass on that one and obama will shred him over it and his bully tactics won't work with him........the hypocrisy of republicans...........newt at the center of the family values movement with his trail of broken down wives crawling away in the dirt...........there is jst no shame, that is what makes these people so dangerous to the nation..................wasabi islam and far right conservatism ain't so far apart, think about it.

      January 21, 2012 at 11:05 pm |
    • Sunny

      Yeah, sins can be "washed away" but that is between him and God, because only God knows what's in his heart. You can't be so gullible as to automatically believe that he has asked for forgiveness, or that he feels remorse. It's obvious he doesn't. Politicians lie, the sooner you learn that the better. He will tell you anything to make you think he's a good person. You have to look at his conduct and judge from that. I say he's a narcissistic pig who throws away women like they are trash. He has stayed with Callista because she doesn't care if he has affairs. He said so himself.

      January 21, 2012 at 11:08 pm |
    • Nancy

      So, does that also cover the ethics violations that got him ridden out of Congress by his own party? God washes all that away too, huh? And makes him squeaky clean and groovy cool, right??

      Wow. There truly is no end to the fairy tales, is there?

      January 22, 2012 at 12:21 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.