home
RSS
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. Puzzled

    Are these the same people who damned Clinton as an adulterer and Obama as "God-less?"

    January 22, 2012 at 12:18 am |
    • Fred

      Yes but he was just an adulterer. Newt is a Christian Adulterer, so it's all good.

      January 22, 2012 at 12:19 am |
  2. peggy

    I am dumbfounded. Usually I have a lot to say. Tonight, I have just two words, utterly embarrassing.

    January 22, 2012 at 12:15 am |
    • Fred

      We may want to revoke SC's voting priviledges for a bit. They have proven to be "unreliable"

      January 22, 2012 at 12:18 am |
  3. angela

    The evangelicals must now accept all gays and lesbians

    January 22, 2012 at 12:15 am |
  4. Fred

    I represent the independent swing voters in this country. Newt has no chance to beat Obama. Only Romney and Paul have a chance.

    January 22, 2012 at 12:14 am |
  5. Dee

    What is appalling is the way Newt treats women and his spouse does not set an example of a First Lady if he was elected. family values are out of the door what he did was tried to deflect the criticism from his ex-wife on the media. I was shocked that John King didn't respond back to him heavily. Newt knows who to play this game with and what Journalist to do so he would never have done this with David on Meet The Press.

    I heard that Al Sharpeton is going to take him on with the racially sensitive things he has been saying about children and the President as a "Food Stamp President", let's see how sarcastic he will get and talk that stuff . The fact is all people who are hurting and can't put food on the table are recipients of this program that does not know the color of the skin but the needs of a people.

    It is going to be a different ball game in the general election and in certain areas of states when he tries to spew this type of language/code language.

    January 22, 2012 at 12:14 am |
  6. Bruce

    In a word, sickening. So much for the " Family Research Council".

    January 22, 2012 at 12:11 am |
  7. treyer

    Well I think the evangelicals have lost ALL CREDIBILITY now. Not that they had much before.

    January 22, 2012 at 12:10 am |
  8. TC

    I will vote for "none of the above" if Newt is the nominee. Newt is a self absorbed sleazy politician and his tramp of a wife is not fit to occupy the White House. Republicans are digging their grave...

    January 22, 2012 at 12:09 am |
    • Fred

      I agree 100%. I wanted to vote republican in the next election but if this is the candidate of choice, Obama gets my vote.

      January 22, 2012 at 12:16 am |
  9. juice

    The separation of church and state doesn't exist really.

    January 22, 2012 at 12:09 am |
  10. chad in AZ

    just goes to show that the candidates in republican party and in the south is full of uneducated voters who would vote newt who is decietful, rather than paul or romney who atleast are electable.

    Just goes to show why we need better education in schools and people need to stay in school.

    January 22, 2012 at 12:09 am |
  11. Jilli

    This just goes to show what a crock the "family values" mantra is – or what lemmings evangelicals really are. They gave a win to a man with the morals of a grub worm.

    January 22, 2012 at 12:09 am |
  12. Fred

    Typical Evangelical Christians..

    willing to compromise their moral beliefs in favor of their political beliefs at the drop of a hat. So much for Family values, or maybe because Newt has had 3 different families they count this as a bonus?

    In any event this state voted for Huckabee last time, and we all know how he fared thankfully.

    Can we have an IQ test next time before we let anyone from SC vote?

    January 22, 2012 at 12:08 am |
  13. clearfog

    "but many experts said the development came to [sic] late to seriously influence the race"

    The editor must have reviewed the article two late.

    January 22, 2012 at 12:08 am |
  14. Dee

    What is appalling is the way Newt treats women and his spouse does not set an example of a First Lady if he was elected. Family Values are out of the door what he did was tried to deflect the criticism from his ex-wife onhe media. I was shocked that John King didn't respond back to him heavily. Newt knows who to play this game with and what Journalist to do so he would never had done this with David on Meet The Press.

    I heard that Al Sharpeton is going to take him on with the racially sensitive things he has been saying about children and the President as a "Food Stamp President", let's see how sarcastic he will get and talk that stuff . The fact is all people who are hurting and can't put food on the table are recipients of this program that does not know the color of the skin but the needs of a people.

    It is going to be a different ball game in the general election and in certain areas of states when he tries to spew this type of language/code language.

    January 22, 2012 at 12:07 am |
    • Bruce

      Mr. King did not respond because the entire sequence was orchestrated. John Edwards must have forced a wry smile at this staged event.

      January 22, 2012 at 12:15 am |
  15. Newt's Mom

    Evangelicalism, thy true name is hypocrisy.

    January 22, 2012 at 12:05 am |
    • Papaya

      Bingo.

      January 22, 2012 at 12:21 am |
    • Ruby

      Well then, they should love Newt.

      January 22, 2012 at 12:28 am |
  16. Jon

    Wow. Evangelicals in South Carolina sure do like embarrassing themselves. Why do I get the sense that people really didn't think this one all the way through?

    January 22, 2012 at 12:04 am |
  17. iminim

    Clinton has affairs & the evangelical power structure proclaims him evil. Gingrich has affairs, divorces sick wives & is penalized by his peers in Congress for ethics violations, and what does the evangelical power structure do? It lines up to kiss his ......... feet? Hypocrisy really has no bounds. Or maybe Clinton just wasn't enough of a bad boy for them?

    January 22, 2012 at 12:04 am |
    • Fred

      Keep in mind, Newt's own party fined him $300,000 for ethics violations – the first time in the history of the country that this happened.

      And this is the man you want representing you? A liar and a thief? Just amazing!

      January 22, 2012 at 12:11 am |
    • Papaya

      iminim – Double bingo.

      January 22, 2012 at 12:24 am |
  18. Senor Ed

    Squeal like a pig, y'all.

    January 22, 2012 at 12:03 am |
  19. Rev. Jason

    We continue to see the hypocrisy of so-called followers of Christ. This man has never been obedient to Christ in any fashion or form. He is a serial adulterer. He is a serial liar. He is a serial lover of money. He is disobedient to many standards any sane and intelligent Christ follower would believe in. Horrible. If he gets the nomination – I will not vote.

    January 22, 2012 at 12:03 am |
  20. Lela

    In 1983 Congressman Gingrich made speeches in response to the affairs of other Congressional members lamenting the moral decline of leadership in America and claiming that the country cannot remain free without moral leaders.

    January 22, 2012 at 12:00 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15
Advertisement
About this blog

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.