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With Alabama and Mississippi losses, Romney continues to stumble in Bible Belt
Mitt Romney has struggled to connect with Southern evangelicals.
March 14th, 2012
11:51 AM ET

With Alabama and Mississippi losses, Romney continues to stumble in Bible Belt

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

(CNN) – Mitt Romney’s losses in Alabama and Mississippi on Tuesday offered more stark evidence of a huge stumbling in his quest for the GOP nomination and the White House: his difficulty winning in the evangelical-rich Bible Belt.

With Rick Santorum’s victories in Alabama and Mississippi, he and Newt Gingrich have taken all but one Bible Belt state in the primaries.

In Alabama, where self-described white evangelicals made up 75% of Republican voters Tuesday, Romney got 27% of their votes, compared with 35% for Santorum and 32% for Gingrich, according to exit polls.

In Mississippi, where white evangelicals accounted for 80% of the vote, Romney got 29% evangelical support, compared with 35% for Santorum and 32% for Gingrich.

CNN's Belief Blog – all the faith angles to the day's top stories

Romney is a Mormon, while Santorum and Gingrich are Catholics. Recent polls show that about half of white evangelicals say Mormonism is not a Christian faith.

“This has nothing to do with religion but with the fact that Romney is only recently pro-life and only recently able to articulate an argument against same-sex marriage,” said Richard Land, the public policy chief at the Southern Baptist Convention, the nation’s largest evangelical denomination.

“Romney would have had a less difficult pathway to the nomination if he had been more Mormon – if he had taken the positions of his church on abortion and marriage earlier,” Land said.

But exit polls suggest that views about religion played a big role in Tuesday’s primaries.

Nearly half of voters in Alabama and Mississippi said the religious beliefs of the candidates mattered a great deal, and Romney fared poorly among those voters, winning 26% of them in Mississippi and just 16% in Alabama.

“Religion is a proxy for trustworthiness of a candidate, especially for white evangelical voters,” said Robert P. Jones, a pollster who focuses on religion and values questions. “The thinking goes that if there’s a person of faith and good moral character, I can trust them to make decisions even on issues where I don’t know where they stand.”

Jones notes that the Southern Baptist Convention for years issued materials calling Mormonism a cult. “There’s a long history of antipathy,” toward Mormons among evangelicals, Jones said, and “that’s certainly playing a role in the Deep South.”

Santorum, Jones says, has stances on social issues that line up more with rank-and-file evangelicals than with rank-and file Catholics.

In the Bible Belt, Santorum has won primaries in Tennessee, Missouri and Kansas, while Gingrich has won South Carolina and Georgia. Romney won the Virginia primary, but neither Santorum nor Gingrich was on the ballot there.

Still, Romney maintains a big lead among his competitors in terms of delegates.

Because Alabama's 47 delegates and Mississippi's 37 delegates will be awarded proportionally, Romney appeared to maintain his delegate lead and may add to it after more moderate Hawaii's 17 delegates are distributed. A CNN delegate estimate early Wednesday showed Romney with a 489-234 lead over Santorum, giving him a 255-delegate margin.

Mark DeMoss, a senior adviser to the Romney campaign helping with outreach to evangelicals, says he has been discouraging Republican voters from making too big a deal of the candidates' religious faith.

“A candidate's values are critically important, but there are Southern Baptists who don’t share my values or political views on many issues, and there are Mormons and Catholics and Jews who do,” said DeMoss, a Southern Baptist.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: 2012 Election • Christianity • Politics

soundoff (472 Responses)
  1. Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

    Gee, wonder where Mark from Piddle River is these days????

    March 15, 2012 at 11:15 pm |
  2. Iqbal Khan

    Who was behind 9-11 ?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lIU9j_qwzOE&feature=player_embedded

    March 15, 2012 at 8:01 pm |
  3. Mark

    I just heard a Romney ad saying he would repeal what he calls Obama care(the Health Care Reform Act). But what would he replace it with? It would have to be Romney Care, which is probably what it was before, insurance companies making a profit by only insuring the healthy, denying coverage to people with preexisting conditions or pricing them out of the market. We needed Health Care Reform. It does take power away from businesses who knew if their older employees left their jobs they couldn't get health insurance. After age 50 a large percentage of people have some kind of health problem to monitor. It reveals Romney's support for businesses and profit at the expense of everyone else.

    March 15, 2012 at 7:11 pm |
  4. Jt_flyer

    Did you see the toothless mississippi republican who receives food stamps and has no health insurance tell us how no ones's going to make his get health insurance ? Poor sad soul used and by greedy republican leaders is just too ignorant to understand. All they have to say are the words Bible and Freedom and he'll vote away everything that makes him a human being. So sad.

    1.  History, I believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government.  This marks the lowest grade of ignorance, of which their political as well as religious leaders will always avail themselves for their own purpose.  Thomas Jefferson

    2. "The hocus-pocus phantasm of a God like another Cerberus, with one body and three heads, had its birth and growth in the blood of thousands and thousands of martyrs." -Thomas Jefferson

    3. "It is too late in the day for men of sincerity to pretend they believe in the Platonic mysticism's that three are one, and one is three; and yet the one is not three, and the three are not one- Thomas Jefferson

    4. "And the day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the supreme being as his father in the womb of a virgin will be cla.ssed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter. But we may hope that the dawn of reason and freedom of thought in these United States will do away with all this artificial scaffolding, and restore to us the primitive and genuine doctrines of this the most venerated reformer of human errors."- Thomas Jefferson

    5. "There is not one redeeming feature in our supersti.tion of Christianity. It has made one half the world fools, and the other half hypocrites."- Thomas Jefferson

    6. "Lighthouses are more useful than churches."- Ben Franklin
    .
    7. "The way to see by faith is to shut the eye of reason."- Ben Franklin

    8. "I looked around for God's judgments, but saw no signs of them."- Ben Franklin

    9. "In the affairs of the world, men are saved not by faith, but by the lack of it."- Ben Franklin

    10. "This would be the best of all possible worlds if there were no religion in it"- John Adams

    11. "The New Testament, they tell us, is founded upon the prophecies of the Old; if so, it must follow the fate of its foundation.'- Thomas Paine

    12. "Of all the tyrannies that affect mankind, tyranny in religion is the worst."- Thomas Paine

    13. "I do not believe in the creed professed by the Jewish Church, by the Roman Church, by the Greek Church, by the Turkish Church, by the Protestant Church, nor by any Church that I know of. My own mind is my own Church. Each of those churches accuse the other of unbelief; and for my own part, I disbelieve them all."- Thomas Paine

    14. "Take away from Genesis the belief that Moses was the author, on which only the strange belief that it is the word of God has stood, and there remains nothing of Genesis but an anonymous book of stories, fables, and traditionary or invented absurdities, or of downright lies."- Thomas Paine

    15. "All national inst.itutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions, set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit."- Thomas Paine

    16. "It is the fable of Jesus Christ, as told in the New Testament, and the wild and visionary doctrine raised thereon, against which I contend. The story, taking it as it is told, is blasphemously obscene.”- Thomas Paine

    17. "Religious controversies are always productive of more acrimony and irreconcilable hatreds than those which spring from any other cause. Of all the animosities which have existed among mankind, those which are caused by the difference of sentiments in religion appear to be the most inveterate and distressing, and ought most to be depreciated. I was in hopes that the enlightened and liberal policy, which has marked the present age, would at least have reconciled Christians of every denomination so far that we should never again see the religious disputes carried to such a pitch as to endanger the peace of society."- George Washington

    18. "The Bible is not my book, nor Christianity my profession."- Abraham Lincoln

    19. "It may not be easy, in every possible case, to trace the line of separation between the rights of religion and the Civil authority with such distinctness as to avoid collisions and doubts on unessential points. The tendency to unsurpastion on one side or the other, or to a corrupting coalition or alliance between them, will be best guarded agst. by an entire abstinence of the Gov't from interference in any way whatsoever, beyond the necessity of preserving public order, and protecting each sect agst. trespa.sses on its legal rights by others."- James Madison

    20. "Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for every noble enterprise."- James Madison

    21. "Christianity is the most perverted system that ever shone on man"- Thomas Jefferson

    March 15, 2012 at 7:06 pm |
    • bob

      Excellent quotes of our founding fathers. They truly were enlightened.

      March 15, 2012 at 7:10 pm |
    • raggmopp

      Right on!

      Too bad the conservatives want to twist and distory American history for their own gains.

      There are enough people around that know the founding fathers setup a secular republic. The despised any influence from any religion, and at that time, the clergy was thinking the same – stay out of govt to prevent corruption of the church. Too late for that, The GOP and the church have become corrupt beyond all recognition.

      March 15, 2012 at 7:20 pm |
  5. Travis

    There is no real worry about the bible belt. It is solid republican. THe nominee could be my dog skipper and he would beat Obama.

    Why is the media so fixated with Romney not winning in the bible belt?

    Maybe they have their own agenda to promote.......ya think?

    Romney can give Obama all he can handle in the swing states. That is what really matters in this electiion.

    March 15, 2012 at 7:04 pm |
    • raggmopp

      Yea, the South is solidly repub. And just as corrupt as the GOP as well.

      March 15, 2012 at 7:22 pm |
  6. drp146

    "Vote for me! I'll tell ya, people, I'm eating grits and saying Y'all, strange things are happening to me. Hey look, I've got my red neck buddy Jeff with me! I'm so glad the trees are just the right height here. Hey, I know the NASCAR and NFL team owners, that's impressive, right?. And did I tell you that Ann drives a couple of Cadillacs? I know you can relate to me, wait, wait, I'll sing at you, Oh beautiful for wealthy guys, when money flows like grain. My super PAC's are spending big to claim I feel your pain......"

    March 15, 2012 at 6:54 pm |
  7. john

    Mormonism is quasi Christian and is outside the Christian faith in my opinion ( i'm Catholic). However, I think most Mormons are decent people and have zero problem voting for one. Romney is running on a conservative platform, and wants to get rid of obama care on day 1. Polls show that he actually has a chance against Obama. Santorum doesn't. Santorum isn't even that great of a candidate anyways. He lost his state by 18 percent in the last election. He is not going to win.

    March 15, 2012 at 6:17 pm |
  8. The Change

    Greedy Obnoxious P00pTerds

    March 15, 2012 at 5:58 pm |
  9. TROOF!!!

    Is the idea that people in Alabama and Mississippi, where many still fly the confederate flag, don't like someone that thinks different than them, really a story?

    March 15, 2012 at 5:57 pm |
    • bob

      They are soooo poor and backward down there let them go be their own country, because they are screwing up mine.

      March 15, 2012 at 5:59 pm |
  10. apeman1

    All these comments go to show that we are very far away from what is suppose to SEPERATION OF CHURCH AND STATE...all you religious zealots get a clue....if your god is so powerful why doesn't he put your man in office....I'll tell you...he could care less about the piddly human contest to rule the world...really, please, use some logic in determination of who is best for this country....

    March 15, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
  11. lroy

    It seems Bible Belt people don't like anybody else's religion but their own Baptist evangelistic fundamentalists which eliminates voting for Catholic, Presbyterian, Methodist, and Episcopalian-all of which are main stream CHRISTIAN.

    March 15, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
    • Pat

      If he's struggliing with the "belt", imagine how uncomfortable the underwear must be.

      March 15, 2012 at 5:44 pm |
  12. Prayer is not healthy for children and other living things

    Today's election news with a religious bent is at http://santorum.com
    Prayer takes people away from actually working on real solutions to their problems.
    Prayer has been shown to have no discernible effect towards what was prayed for.
    Prayer prevents you from getting badly needed exercise.
    Prayer makes you fat.
    Prayer wears out your clothes prematurely.
    Prayer contributes to global warming through excess CO2 emissions.
    Prayer fucks up your knees and your neck and your back.
    Prayer can cause heart attacks, especially among the elderly.
    Prayer reveals how stupid you are to the world.
    Prayer exposes your backside to pervert priests.
    Prayer makes you think doilies are exciting.
    Prayer makes you secretively flatulent and embarrassed about it.
    Prayer makes your kids avoid spending time with you.
    Prayer gives you knobbly knees.
    Prayer makes you frothy like Rick Santorum. Just google him to find out.
    Prayer dulls your senses.
    Prayer makes you post really stupid shit.
    Prayer makes you hoard cats.
    Prayer makes you smell like shitty kitty litter and leads you on to harder drugs.
    Prayer wastes time.

    March 15, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
    • worldisamess

      II'll be praying for you....you need it.

      March 15, 2012 at 5:36 pm |
  13. bob

    Why exactly should I listen to a book that tells me to own slaves and subjugate woman?

    March 15, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
    • MrHanson

      Maybe because you're too busy reading books stating that all Christians are idiots.

      March 15, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
    • MrHanson

      Oh brother.

      March 15, 2012 at 5:01 pm |
    • apeman1

      you shouldn't, it's there to control the masses of about 2000 yrs ago...if you read any of it, read the teachings of Jesus.....the rest of it is a bunch of catholic men deciding whats the best way to torture people into total submission...using God as their bouncer...

      March 15, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
    • bob

      So the book I read is the Holy Bible. Both Exodus and Leviticus call for the owning of slaves, subjugation of woman and stoning of Adulterers, Divorcees, non-Virgins, etc.

      March 15, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
  14. Netscanr

    True Christian churches such as Catholic & others DO NOT recognize LDS baptism: http://www.catholicdoors.com/faq/qu46.htm Enough said...

    March 15, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
    • lroy

      Happy lent.

      March 15, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
    • apeman1

      who cares...their fairytale is just as bad....

      March 15, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
    • TROOF!!!

      And LDS members are thankful they don't and don't recognize those religions as having any authority whatsoever. What's your point. And Catholic's don't recognize baptists authority. And Baptists don't recognize protestants. And Protestants don't recognize Lutheran's... etc. etc. etc. What exactly was your point?

      March 15, 2012 at 5:42 pm |
  15. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things, .

    March 15, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
    • sam

      It doesn't change things for the better.

      March 15, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
    • apeman1

      prayer does work, but atheism is much healthier than ANY of the major religions.....atheist don't force people into believing the way they do....and condemn them to hell fire if they don't....most if not all Christian religions do....Buddhism is a much better way to view the earth and it's people.....

      March 15, 2012 at 5:18 pm |
    • just sayin

      Like atheist Joe Stalin didn't force his beliefs on the 24 million he murdered.Right,

      March 15, 2012 at 9:06 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Yeah, 'cuz he went to all of them and gave them a choice, right? He said they could either renounce their beliefs or die, huh?

      Do show that atheism was the reason for Stalin's killing, you sh!twit.

      March 15, 2012 at 9:38 pm |
    • just sayin

      History shows us many atheist leaders, each responsible for mass murders.

      March 15, 2012 at 9:49 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      And you again prove your own idiocy. Stalin would have murdered millions even if he'd been just lie you, just sayin. In fact, people like you are more guilty of murder than any atheist.

      March 15, 2012 at 10:10 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      edit: just LIKE you.

      Although "LIE" is quite apropos whenever just sayin is involved.

      March 15, 2012 at 10:11 pm |
    • Jesus

      The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs!!! ...

      March 15, 2012 at 10:19 pm |
    • ElmerGantry

      If "prayer changes things" then all those people in the bible belt must be praying for violent weather. Why else would tornado ally be centered on the bible belt?

      March 16, 2012 at 12:12 am |
    • TR6

      @just sayin:”Like atheist Joe Stalin didn't force his beliefs on the 24 million he murdered.Right,”

      Stalin was just another high priest; communism is just another dogmatic religion and the 24 million atrocities belong to religion.

      March 16, 2012 at 8:39 am |
    • TR6

      @just sayin:”History shows us many atheist leaders, each responsible for mass murders.”

      Ok Please list the names of "many atheist leaders responsible for mass murders" from more than 100 years ago. Please do not try and include leaders that had religions other then Christian

      March 16, 2012 at 8:47 am |
  16. well?

    the fact that a catholic won there is baffling to me too though. i say that as a southerner. i would have thought Paul would have done better. "bible belt" folks are not going to vote for people with another "book". makes them think Koran

    March 15, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      I also live in the south and it’s not very surprising to me. They voted for the one basing his campaign on his religion. He maybe Catholic but he comes off more like a southern Baptist. I’ve also over hear that a Catholic is better than a Mormon.

      March 15, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
    • just sayin

      Blue tic hound is better than a Mormon

      March 15, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      May be, heard .. thank you auto correct.

      March 15, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Morons are better than just sayin.

      March 15, 2012 at 9:39 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Maryland ain't the South by any stretch of a troll's imagination.

      March 15, 2012 at 9:40 pm |
  17. Bill

    The Mormon Church is soley based on the thoughts of Joseph Smith and not the Bible. It is a cult and it is amazing how many people are willing to be ruled Mormon style when they profess to be Christian. Woe to all if Romney is elected. People in Jesus' chose to release a murderer and crucified Jesus. Is laying aside morals and integerty and electing a Mormon any different?

    March 15, 2012 at 3:48 pm |
    • karenjay

      Oh brother. Get an education and a life.

      March 15, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
    • buddhabill

      Actually Joseph Smith plagiarized most of the concepts of Mormonism from other sources. That said I genuinely like most of the Mormons I know, and based on the display of hatred, intolerance and ignorance I find it hard to believe that most so-called Bible Belt Christians are coming anywhere close to ideals they are supposed to live.

      March 15, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
    • sam

      Wise up, Bill ! All of christianity is a silly cult!

      March 15, 2012 at 4:56 pm |
    • appalled

      Mormon is no different than any other religion. They are all cults with a bunch of non thinkers. At least the Mormons keep good records. I can't believe how many people believe this fairy tale! All you have to do is use your brain. They are all about as religious as a rattlesnake.

      March 15, 2012 at 6:26 pm |
  18. Prayer is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer takes people away from actually working on real solutions to their problems.
    Prayer has been shown to have no discernible effect towards what was prayed for.
    Prayer prevents you from getting badly needed exercise.
    Prayer makes you fat.
    Prayer wears out your clothes prematurely.
    Prayer contributes to global warming through excess CO2 emissions.
    Prayer fucks up your knees and your neck and your back.
    Prayer can cause heart attacks, especially among the elderly.
    Prayer reveals how stupid you are to the world.
    Prayer exposes your backside to pervert priests.
    Prayer makes you think doilies are exciting.
    Prayer makes you secretively flatulent and embarrassed about it.
    Prayer makes your kids avoid spending time with you.
    Prayer gives you knobbly knees.
    Prayer makes you frothy like Rick Santorum. Just google him to find out.
    Prayer dulls your senses.
    Prayer makes you post really stupid shit.
    Prayer makes you hoard cats.
    Prayer makes you smell like shitty kitty litter and leads you on to harder drugs.
    Prayer wastes time.

    March 15, 2012 at 3:40 pm |
    • Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

      You are correct

      March 15, 2012 at 3:42 pm |
    • Bill

      Yeah, but from what I've heard prayer changes things. Ever try it....who knows.

      March 15, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
  19. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    March 15, 2012 at 3:39 pm |
    • Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

      Prayer never changes a thing

      Proven

      March 15, 2012 at 3:40 pm |
    • Prayer changes things

      Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things .

      March 15, 2012 at 9:07 pm |
  20. tonyl

    Bible belt is looking for a christian pastor. A mormon sales man cannot sell them snake oil.

    March 15, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
    • Bob

      Yep. Gotta have the right schtick from the song and dance man to sell the fairy tale successfully.

      March 15, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
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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.