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. TruthandBeauty

    Newt sold is soul to the devel a long time ago..the sad thing is, he still won't win the presidency. His soul wasn't worth that much. Just a bully punk with a sldege hammer. God help us.

    January 22, 2012 at 1:35 am |
  2. Mike H

    Well...given Gingrich's history of affairs, divorces and marriages...plus his phony "family values" campaign...I can only wonder whether the Christian right might be even more enthusiastic about voting for a serial killer or a child molestor. I'm guessing they might be.

    Gingrich speaks well but his actions show him, as they do any man, as he really is. One this is clear...there is not a single Republican candidate in the fold at this time who can win in November. And I reckon we should all be very thankful for that.

    January 22, 2012 at 1:35 am |
  3. AgnosticInCO

    Lesson learned: S.C. Evangelical Christians believe the evils of Mormonism are more morally abhorrent than the evils of adultery. ROFLMAO. Come on, it's funny, feel free to join in on my merriment and wry amusement. That aside, whether this is a comment on the vox populi of Evangelicals remains to be seen. Still, I think Mittens may be starting to sweat. Essentially, he's been campaigning for the presidency since '07 and he can't perform better than this – pathetic. Either he's just that bad or the deviation of the dissident Republicans, and the polarization which it inherently brings, is really screwing with the GOP's objective. The Tea Party may well just have been the catalyst in the downfall of what we have come to know as the Republican Party of current times. If they continue down this divisive path, the best course to take (and possibly only, depending upon the severity of their self-inflicted wound) is to split the party. Frankly, it would be more ideal to have multiple parties in contention in a Democracy anyway. One would think that practically anything would be more attractive to the Republicans than mutually assured destruction. Then again, maybe the GOP'll somehow right the ship when all is said and done. smh. Thanks for the laughs S.C.

    January 22, 2012 at 1:33 am |
  4. Bruce

    Funny how evangelicals will vote for a man who cheats on his wife and is catholic over a Mormon that is faithful to his wife.

    January 22, 2012 at 1:32 am |
    • gingerpeach

      yes yes !! thank You !!

      January 22, 2012 at 3:30 am |
  5. wecanwinthisback

    make it go viral

    January 22, 2012 at 1:23 am |
  6. wecanwinthisback

    triple w dot youtube dot com/watch?feature "equal sign" player "underscore" embedded&v " equal sign" tLX_6rgvbEU

    Use your brain and you will see something that needs to be seen. Take out the spaces and put in actual symbols where there are quotation marks.
    You wanted proof, there you go. If that does not make up your mind, then you are truly lost to us and need to stay out of the way.

    January 22, 2012 at 1:19 am |
  7. Margaret

    Look at the picture, why do they all look like they are rabid or ate something that disagreed with them? If Callista's lips get any tighter she may never be able to open her mouth again and look at their eyes.. If this is what they are like when they win, I'd be afraid to see them if they lose. Scary.

    January 22, 2012 at 1:19 am |
  8. Brett

    Wow, the Mayans were right. The world really is ending and Newt is the perfect anti-Christ for the job.

    January 22, 2012 at 1:16 am |
  9. David, CA

    Newt's mistress must be VERY happy. Wife #3 however must be nervous.

    January 22, 2012 at 1:16 am |
    • JP0

      You are right, if Newt is true to form he has another mistress in the wings.

      January 22, 2012 at 1:17 am |
    • Mirosal

      Would that be in the WEST wing? lol Think ol' Newt will have his own "Monica"?

      January 22, 2012 at 1:22 am |
  10. borisjimbo

    They'll forgive anybody anything as long as he's a Republican.

    January 22, 2012 at 1:12 am |
    • David, CA

      100% true. What a joke they've proven themselves. Total hypocrites.

      January 22, 2012 at 1:13 am |
    • KmoTT

      CNN should correct the delegate number because Mitt Romney did loss Iowa. The Republican Committee did release a meno saying that Senator Santorum win the Iowa , so he should have 18 delegate, not Romney. CNN are intentionally put up incorrect delegate win for those 4 candidate.

      January 22, 2012 at 1:18 am |
  11. passionate moderate

    I think that after this election, the Republican party (really run by the 1%) will be sorry that they let themselves be taken over by supposed "evangelicals" (whose understanding of the teachings of Jesus are suspect), and the Tea Party (who probably never even drink tea). I believe that they will lose to a candidate who has only been married once, who has not been sanctioned by the House of Representatives, who pays something closer to the tax rate that most Americans pay, and who has not started more wars.

    January 22, 2012 at 1:07 am |
  12. Bullet

    For the Evangelicals information, Gingrich did not seek forgiveness from the Baptist church, but deserted to the Catholic church where a simple confession and a couple of dollars in the pot will permit him to do most anything. All of the Mafia belong to the Catholic church and they like the hell out of it.

    January 22, 2012 at 1:04 am |
    • KmoTT

      The liberal media (special CNN) and demos. & Obama are now scared, because if Newt win it emplies that Obama will be one term for sure. The media and CNN will do everything they can to help Obama now and Romney (the weak candiadate who they know can not beat Obama). It is interesting to see the liberal media and Dems are talking about family value whicle they stand behind Clinton destoyed the basic moral while he was in Oval room.

      January 22, 2012 at 1:13 am |
    • David, CA

      KmoTT- just keep telling yourself that Newt isn't the biggest hypocrite on the planet. Just keep telling yourself it's alllll the librulllls fault ROFL. What a complete tool you are.

      January 22, 2012 at 1:15 am |
    • JP0

      @KmoTT: Dreamer!

      January 22, 2012 at 1:15 am |
    • NyteShayde

      KmoTT – it's really hard to take you seriously when you can't even write a properly written post.

      January 22, 2012 at 1:17 am |
    • Tko

      Please remind me, because I forget. When it was that Clinton denounced someone else for having an affair while he was having one himself? When exactly did he serve divorce papers to his hospitalized wife? When, precisely did his financial ethics violation take place, the one where he took money from a children's charity for his own benefit? Please let me know because I guess my memory isn't so good these days . . . Gingrich's corruption and vile nature go far, far beyond his execrable marriage habits . . .

      January 22, 2012 at 1:18 am |
    • Elephant in the room

      Two words for you....Ted Haagard.
      The fundies have mountains of examples of wailing preachers, who go on TV and cry, and say they sinned, and expect to keep their jobs. Catholic or Southern Baptist...it's all the same delusion.

      January 22, 2012 at 11:45 am |
  13. Beth

    South Carolina GOP voters (evangelical southern baptist bible belt bigots) would rather nominate a guy who handed his wife divorce papers in her hospital bed, than a "Papist" or Mormon. There's no other analysis that needs to be done. That's the beginning and end of it

    January 22, 2012 at 1:04 am |
    • Nancy

      But wait!! Newt converted to Catholicism, so doesn't that make HIM a Papist too?? *snerk* I think maybe the peeps in SC forgot that little tidbit in their rush to vote for the guy they THINK has the best chance of beating Obama. Sooo isn't gonna happen, but that's what happens when Those People "think."

      January 22, 2012 at 1:12 am |
    • NyteShayde

      These are also the same voters who were waving the Southern Cross at the polling places. Way to stay classy, South Carolina.

      January 22, 2012 at 1:18 am |
  14. JP0

    Old story: Q: How do you tell when a politician is lying? A: His lips are moving. The fools in SC don't know a hypocrite when they hear one.

    January 22, 2012 at 1:01 am |
  15. Bullet

    The Repukelicans are in one hell of a mess. They might find someone some day to make a legitimate run for the Presidency, but I do not see anyone coming forward. They shot their wad with georgie porgie and they will ave to live with it for a while like they did Hoover.

    January 22, 2012 at 1:00 am |
    • WhinyLiberal

      eye chist luf bullhit. it thingks y r stupit so repelikints kint ran ares kuntries. leems tellas simfun, blut es obimas wunt snixtlicshin cunz u vrtd 4m, i zoaps nyug its furzt trgrpl.

      January 22, 2012 at 1:08 am |
  16. David

    Another wiener finds God, what's new?

    January 22, 2012 at 12:59 am |
  17. Padams

    "An evangelical Christian is called to share the good news, to preach God's Word, and to set an example of purity and integrity. If these callings require political action, so be it. At the same time, evangelical Christians should not be sidetracked into abandoning our highest calling—sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ." Source: Got Answers Ministries

    Therefore the Evangelical South Carolina Christian voters for Gingrich, a political action, were not upholding the purity and integrity of their beliefs by this act of supporting a person who has confessed his lack of purity and integrity in his dalliances. Hypocrisy, maybe. Truth is they just voted for a candidate that is bombastic, bullies, debates with a sledge hammer an imposters of a person that they believe could take on the President. Don't think Christ was in their heart when they embracing Newt.

    January 22, 2012 at 12:57 am |
  18. Bullet

    Gingrich is up and down like an elevator, but he had better enjoy his last moment in the sun because it will not be as easy for him when he goes to states who have citizens with above grade school educations.

    January 22, 2012 at 12:56 am |
  19. ed watts

    Hi Jimmy Swaggert here...I can tell you why Newt's moral lapses do not seem to bother us...you see it goes like this; "do not do what we do, do what we say you should do".

    January 22, 2012 at 12:55 am |
    • Ted Hagaard

      I'm REALLY REALLY not gay.

      January 22, 2012 at 11:46 am |
  20. Fred

    Deer Newt,

    if yu are still into this open mariage thing, we will voute for you.

    In Jesus' name

    Love South Carolina

    January 22, 2012 at 12:51 am |
    • WhinyLiberal

      Dier Fraeud, if'n yer stil oapin in the maritch theng, wheal foate 4 u.

      January 22, 2012 at 12:57 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.