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. wjs7442

    Why is nobody concerned that Gingrich was fined $300,000 for ethics violations while he was Speaker of the House? That's a stronger objection than infidelity.

    January 22, 2012 at 3:31 am |
    • Mirosal

      yep .. if he couldn't lead the House, how the hell can he run the country?

      January 22, 2012 at 3:45 am |
  2. Elephant in the room

    There is simply no way the nation will elect this pompous, arrogant, embarrassing, and ethically challenged person to the Presidency. He would be standing up, in front of the world, alongside the woman with whom he committed adultery, (no matter he says "I'm sorry"....if he really were sorry, he NEVER would have married her....he's not "sorry" about anything). It also presents a HUGE embarrassment to the Roman Church. Who actually performed his marriage, and whom did he PAY for his annulment ? All this proves, is that the Republican Party is totally fractured, and Obama will be re-elected. One can will a battle, and easily lose a war. Romney will be the candidate, and he will loose.

    January 22, 2012 at 3:20 am |
  3. demogal

    Evangelicals are flaming hypocrites, at least in South Carolina. They care about nothing except that Obama is African-American, and they vote accordingly. Trolls, all of them.

    January 22, 2012 at 3:09 am |
    • bob

      Demogal like many people out there when we stop putting color on everthing this world will get better. indians call people humam being our president is what he called himself when he was first elected a MONGREL. he like all of us in this world had no choice of who or what we are . so we learn to live with who we are and hope the small minded people will grow up some day and realize we are the same.

      January 22, 2012 at 5:05 am |
  4. demogal

    How do you say "hypocrite"?

    January 22, 2012 at 3:07 am |
  5. Mark P

    WOW! What a CNN-load-o-crap worthy of a FauxNewz label-o-shame: Opening sentence: " 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". Um, NO, leading the actual story with such a grotesquely inaccurate and sweeping analysis stated as fact, is emblematic of all that is wrong with our CORPORATE anti-liberal media. NOTHING, was put to rest in South Carolina, most especially the disqualifying red-flag issues of Gingrich's atrocious integrity and ethics, among evangelicals who literally had NO ONE IN THE RACE to vote for. An honest analysis, would have served the public interest instead of trying to serve the media interest by making this seem a horse race.

    CNN debases itSELF every time it so transparently grandstands for a demonstrably false analysis. ICK, CNN! This dog won't hunt! Even with your ginormous media megaphone...it won't hunt! America's done with the false division...not all of us, but an ever-growing number are waking up. There are still plenty of idiots that will fall for your spin...congrats, and enjoy your declining ratings while you still can. Fortunately, as you continue to show your bias and distortion, that number falls... and falls... and falls. (how are your ratings these days, anyway? Do you want to know what Americans want? HONEST TRUTHFUL ACCURATE REPORTING AND FAIR ANALYSIS! Not faux-news "fair and balanced". Not "he said that, she said that, you decide" stepping aside, not some sort of neck-and-neck contest that generates ratings, but, "this guy was untruthful, while this guy was truthful" reporting...actual reporting. Try it again, wouldya please? I'd like to welcome you back to being a legitimate news source again! You know... the one I could actually QUOTE again like you just demonstrated I no longer can! People are waking up to the fact that CNN now has come to stand for the Corporate News Network...ie, against OUR INTERESTS as the citizens of the US. Shape up quick, CNN. Too late already?)

    January 22, 2012 at 3:05 am |
  6. Franklin

    Wasn't he banging some chick on his desk while calling for Clinton's impeachment?

    January 22, 2012 at 2:54 am |
    • MikeMedford

      Yes. That is why we like Newt Gingrich. Gingrich is changing the society for the better, normalizing adultery and multiple partners. Humans love a strong leader and strong leaders are highly virile. The Bible understands this element of human nature: King David was beloved by God.

      Evangelicals are not motivated by Newt's "goodness"; we are motivated by Newt's strength.


      January 22, 2012 at 10:00 am |
  7. NiSolihp

    South Carolina has lived upto it's expectations largely. A superficial facade of religious piety, layered carefully over petty ambition and crude intellect. A hallmark of hypocrisy which surprisingly most candidates fall prey to...and this time around Romney and Santorum fell victims to it. They tried to make the argument in favour of substantive issues which are lost on the voters there.

    January 22, 2012 at 2:53 am |
  8. Nancy

    No, George will most likely carry on about the 'Christian' principle of forgiveness. The only problem is that, since Newt is now Catholic, he can confess & receive ab.solution on a weekly basis. I don't know about the Evangelical Republicans, but that idea makes me more than a little sus.picious about whether or not Newt has truly "repented." 😉

    January 22, 2012 at 2:53 am |
  9. RTM12341234

    The fact that these southern evangelicals would vote for "a thrice-married convert to Catholicism" just shows how much they despise Mormons. Gingrich won the evangelical vote by 22% while Mitt Romney won the non-evangelical vote by 6%. 65% of voters were evangelical or born-again christian, so it is apparent that religion was one major factor that lost Romney the state.

    Bigotry is alive and well, folks!

    January 22, 2012 at 2:52 am |
  10. Todd Fisher

    The game is rigged, pure and simple. There is NO way Newt managed to get 40%+ of the female vote in SC. Not to mention he had to cancel a speaking engagement due to a lack of turnout. But he some how manages to get a solid win the next day? But until we all demand paper receipts when we vote, we are wasting our time.

    January 22, 2012 at 2:48 am |
  11. Gerold

    These so-called evangelicals are not Christians who represent Christians as a whole. They are mostly Southern Baptist, who will bend to anything that would suit or mimic their agenda. These are the same Southern Baptist who could have brought a swift and decisive blow against slavery in America, if only they would have spoken out against it. They are also the same ones, who behind closed doors, talk severely against Roman Catholicism saying they are not "born again". Their compromise in this matter is based between the selection of one of the two evils they have to choose from- Mitt Romney (Mormon) or Newt Gingrich (Roman Catholic).

    January 22, 2012 at 2:39 am |
  12. Shirley

    Not really–the "Evangelicals" just didn't want to vote for a Mormon!

    January 22, 2012 at 2:24 am |
  13. Tyinmi

    Evangelicals in SC must be twofaced. To vote for a man who walked out on his wife with cancer what a joke.

    January 22, 2012 at 2:18 am |
    • ThinkAgain

      The wife with cancer was Wife #1; he also walked out on Wife #2, who has multiple sclerosis. If Callista gets sick, he'll walk out on her, too.

      January 22, 2012 at 2:23 am |
    • gingerpeach

      thinkagain, you are so right. and so how does one walk out of the president job when it gets tough? I guess we'll find out when Newt does it.

      January 22, 2012 at 3:29 am |
  14. Todd

    Even after Lincoln has been long dead S.C. vote shows that they still hate good Republicans. and would rather have those with lesser values.

    January 22, 2012 at 2:08 am |
  15. Fozzyspeak

    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.

    its **too**

    January 22, 2012 at 2:05 am |
  16. Todd

    S.C. the bible belt? Perhaps they should try reading the bible and follow it. If they did their vote would have been different

    January 22, 2012 at 2:03 am |
  17. migeli

    Remind me to avoid South Carolina on my way to anywhere!Approaching South Carolina! Set your watches back 3,000 yesrs.

    January 22, 2012 at 1:56 am |
  18. HotAirAce

    So it's looking more and more like that grand moral absolutist George will be voting for a fornicator. Or will he be collecting "stones"...

    January 22, 2012 at 1:53 am |
    • Mirosal

      HotAir .. are you sure people like George .. you know .. those in mental wards ... are allowed to vote? 😉

      January 22, 2012 at 1:58 am |
  19. tjlnsd

    The new Family Values; One man, one woman, and a mistress.....or two.

    January 22, 2012 at 1:45 am |
    • TR6

      When you recall all the multiple wives, concubines and pregnant hand maidens, Gingirch becomes the obvious choice for god fearing evangelicals

      January 22, 2012 at 4:56 am |
  20. migeli

    John King asked Newt Grinch a perfectly legitimate question thst all voters should have the right to know the answer.The moral character of our leader is st issue here.Wasn't Newt the guy who made the biggest fuss about Clinton,who incidently was the real guy responsible for jobs created in that era, not Gingrich who credits himself.So Newt rudely bladts John King and the rest of the media and gets appauded by a bunch of stupid redneck morons who are voting against their own sel-interests.This guy reminds me of Nazi Germany.He'sgot a lot of nerve insulting the only people we can get the truth from,the press except for Fox News.

    January 22, 2012 at 1:39 am |
    • ThinkAgain

      There are more registered Democrats than Republicans, so us Dems need to make sure we GET OUT AND VOTE in November 2012, to offset all the redneck morons who think have an immoral, nasty, dangerous man in the White House is a good thing. BTW, Gingrich has said that if he is elected POTUS, he would sign over 100 Executive Orders within his first hours after being sworn in.

      Gingrich doesn't believe in democracy; he wants to be a dictator.

      January 22, 2012 at 2:26 am |
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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.