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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. Voice of Reason

    The Irony is that this is the guy who was AGAINST building a mosque in NYC. So he's all for religion – when it's his own.

    Hypocrite!

    January 22, 2012 at 12:50 am |
  2. christards

    godisimaginary.com

    January 22, 2012 at 12:49 am |
  3. christards

    Richard Dawkins for prez

    January 22, 2012 at 12:48 am |
    • No Monkeys No Atheists

      USA will never vote Monkey for a Prez.

      January 22, 2012 at 3:27 am |
    • Mirosal

      He can'r run for the Presidency. He's a British citizen.

      January 22, 2012 at 3:31 am |
  4. christards

    christards

    January 22, 2012 at 12:48 am |
  5. JC

    Where a person has repented of his sins.....There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit...........Let him cast the first stone.

    January 22, 2012 at 12:45 am |
    • JP0

      Talk is cheap.

      January 22, 2012 at 12:48 am |
    • JC

      JP0 It not talk – the centrality of Christianity is forgiveness – the reason for the cross

      January 22, 2012 at 12:52 am |
    • Ted Hagaard

      The centrality of Christianity is a grudge-holding angry god, who requires a sacrifice. Such a HUGE grudge, he had to give up his son, instead of just saying, "never mind". THAT'A NOT forgiveness.

      January 22, 2012 at 11:54 am |
  6. Robert Vazquez

    Why was it not reported that his ex wife took and passed a polygraph test? Funny how the evangelicals give this "Open marriage" creep a pass, but discriminate agaisnt gay marriage. That is one reason I haven't been to church in years.

    January 22, 2012 at 12:42 am |
    • Unblinking Horse with Tongue Sticking Out

      RV
      You haven't been to church because it is stupid and boring. Let's be honest.

      January 22, 2012 at 12:43 am |
  7. Fred

    Is NH the only sane state to vote so far? We just might want them to pick the president from now on.

    January 22, 2012 at 12:39 am |
    • Unblinking Horse with Tongue Sticking Out

      The sane folks live in the West. You can have the East.

      January 22, 2012 at 12:42 am |
    • Fred

      I've been to LA, and while driving through we played a game called "gunshot or fireworks". It was a good time.

      January 22, 2012 at 12:54 am |
  8. Larry

    Guess I was right about the overly vocal Christians being a bunch of hypocrites!! Family values? Honesty? Tolerance? Wish people would remember we're trying to choose a president, not the leader of your church of the week!

    January 22, 2012 at 12:35 am |
  9. Fred

    Morally bankrupt. SC and Newt both deserve each other.

    January 22, 2012 at 12:34 am |
  10. kuewa

    So, adultery and lying are no longer sins? Did Moses misinterpret those tablets?

    January 22, 2012 at 12:31 am |
    • Unblinking Horse with Tongue Sticking Out

      Which tablets? The first set that he broke before going on a homicidal rampage, or the second set, that were different, that came along later?

      January 22, 2012 at 12:35 am |
    • gingerpeach

      lol he must have dropped them now

      January 22, 2012 at 3:32 am |
  11. Michael

    The republican party is in trouble if Newt receives the republican nomination for President, I am a democrat who is happy this is occuring. Hello 4 more years!!!!

    January 22, 2012 at 12:31 am |
    • Patrick

      As a VERY disappointed conservative I will be voting for the only guy who wont try to screw me over and might do some good for our country. Obama 2012.

      January 22, 2012 at 12:38 am |
  12. Bullet

    The nation's death rows are crammed full of 'I saw the light, Jesus loves me now" cold-blooded killers and rapists. Evidently South Carolina voters hide behind the same mask as the killers do.

    January 22, 2012 at 12:31 am |
  13. Unblinking Horse with Tongue Sticking Out

    Where is the guy with the Turkey covered in bacon movie?? We need to celebrate Newt tonight!! I NEED Newt's head on a platter!!

    January 22, 2012 at 12:29 am |
  14. Bullet

    These hypocritical religion freaks in South Carolina do not give a damn about God or Jesus, they just want to be on the R side and it is about I have mine and to hell with you, and bigotry. Reagan started it in 1980 with his welfare queen B/S and Bush 1 followed it with his Willie Horton rants. The rednecks in South Carolina would vote for Hitler if they could bring him back alive. This country had better wake up or we will go down the tubes. Gingrich is a Hypocritical, ego maniac and will do anything to get votes. This backward state has no bearing on who will be President. I am surprised they went for Gingrich, but I am glad they did because it will make for some good copy. If all the blacks in the country will get off their duffs and vote in November everything until then will be immaterial as far as South Carolina is concerned.

    January 22, 2012 at 12:27 am |
    • Unblinking Horse with Tongue Sticking Out

      I know, right Bullet! They are smart enough not to give a damn about God or Jesus, but yet they still vote for Newt? Impossible to explain.

      January 22, 2012 at 12:31 am |
    • Lejaune

      No, we evangelicals are not hypocritical. We have always be taught about sharing since we were kids. Marianne didn't want to share Newt with other women. She even went on national TV to show her selfishness of wanting to keep Newt to herself rather than sharing him with her sister-in-Christ Callista. I'm sure New doesn't mind sharing Callista with his friends as long as they are fellow Christians.

      January 22, 2012 at 12:41 am |
  15. Glenn Stephens

    Evangelicals? Hardly. To be religious, one must adhere to religious principles. In GOP situational ethics, right and wrong depends on the situation. Clinton cheats, horror. Newt serially cheats, and a flimsy apology and fake shame earns him a pass among the psuedo-Christian right. A morally untethered party and candidate.

    January 22, 2012 at 12:26 am |
    • Unblinking Horse with Tongue Sticking Out

      Well knock me over if you can. I am horrified.

      January 22, 2012 at 12:33 am |
  16. matt trinnaman

    seems like there is a consesus that so called "south carolinian evangelicals" are supporting the candidate with the lowest morals and values! good thing south carolina cannot vote across state lines..... because their on an island of their own... !! "fantasy island"

    January 22, 2012 at 12:25 am |
  17. chefdewhite

    I was greatly disturbed by the debates this last week when Newt received standing ovations. This is basically how the South Carolina heard newt, "I'm a racist..." *applause* "I'm an adulterer" *applause*

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

      Inbreeding will do that to subhumans

      January 22, 2012 at 12:23 am |
  18. Jason

    These so-called Christians would reject Jesus himself if He came down from above and told them to stop hating on blacks, gays, and non-Christians. The only difference between them and the Taliban is that these people are fatter, and eat pork.

    January 22, 2012 at 12:19 am |
    • Fred

      They would string him up on a cross in a second. Of course after putting a crown of thorns on his head and mocking him.

      January 22, 2012 at 12:35 am |
  19. Ungodly Discipline

    When someone can explain to me what morals are, what sin is, where heaven is and where hell is, then maybe I will give a s.h.i.t about Christians.

    I won't vote for a GOP candidate because they are crooks and liars plain and simple. Not because they f ornicate, who gives a s.h.i.t. Family values. Yeah right. Go ahead and start casting those stones fakers.

    Additionally, I am pro-choice, pro-g.a.y marriage, pro-p.o.t, pro-let-me-live-in-a-god-dam-free country already or quit telling me it is free so I can find somewhere else!

    The two-party system DOES NOT WORK.

    January 22, 2012 at 12:19 am |
    • Mirosal

      George Washington warned us about a 2-party political system... no one seems to heed those words, and he said it almost 215 years ago.

      January 22, 2012 at 3:35 am |
  20. Patty

    Pharisees

    January 22, 2012 at 12:18 am |
    • Susan Booth

      Well said....

      January 22, 2012 at 12:39 am |
    • Unblinking Horse with Tongue Sticking Out

      Well spoken.

      January 22, 2012 at 12:47 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.