fbpx
45.9 F
Spokane
Monday, April 22, 2024
HomeCommentaryEvangelicals voting in record numbers in GOP primaries

Evangelicals voting in record numbers in GOP primaries

Date:

Related stories

Finding Freedom in Detachment: A Daughter’s Reflection on Her Father’s 81st Birthday

The prayer I say most often asks God to help me, “lay all my affairs in Thy hands,” and “not dwell on the unpleasant things of life.” In the Baha’i Faith, we call it “being detached," and it is a lesson we all struggle to learn.

Everything You Need To Know About Life You Can Get from ‘The Twilight Zone’ and Rodgers & Hammerstein Musicals

Should someone ask me (a secular atheist) where I got my philosophy of life — what to value, how to behave — and how not to, I can answer simply and directly: from watching Rod Serling’s “The Twilight Zone” and Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals as I grew up.

University of Southern California Bars Muslim Valedictorian from Giving Her Speech

The University of Southern California's decision to bar their Muslim valedictorian Asna Tabassum from speaking at graduation shows academic institutions are failing to protect students equally.

Blinded by Binaries: Why We Don’t See the Infinite Dignity of Two-Spirit People

There is much to learn from and praise in “Dignitas Infinita” (infinite dignity), the April 8 Vatican declaration. But its understanding of human dignity is wedded to binary opposites. This view puts the Vatican in an unholy alliance with Idaho’s legislature, which in order to wipe out the rights of transgender people has declared that there only two sexes, male and female.

What Is the LDS General Conference?

Twice each year, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints tune into what is known as general conference. Most are seeking guidance from leaders and listen to their messages with reverence and deep interest.

Our Sponsors

spot_img
spot_img
Rick Santorum speaks in Spokane
Rick Santorum speaks in Spokane

Making up half of Republican primary voters, evangelicals appear to be turning out to support Rick Santorum's resurgent campaign in record numbers and are increasingly influencing the shape of the party.

Perhaps just as important, conservative Christians are increasing their crucial financial support and volunteer hours as Santorum tries to keep his momentum heading into Tuesday's (March 20) Illinois primary.

According to the Faith and Freedom Coalition, headed by longtime evangelical political activist Ralph Reed, evangelical Christians account for just over 50 percent of the turnout so far in the Republican primaries, the highest rate ever and a significant increase over the 44 percent evangelical voting rate in 2008.

Moreover, Santorum has won a third of those votes, compared to Mitt Romney's 29.74 percent and Newt Gingrich's 29.65 percent.

Faith and Freedom based its analysis on the entrance and exit polling data from 16 primaries and caucuses. The data show that some 4.29 million evangelical Christian voters have cast ballots so far — or 50.53 percent of the 8.49 million total votes cast.

Reed said the turnout is up across the board, and not just in the South, where conservative Christians helped deliver a two-state primary sweep of Alabama and Mississippi to Santorum last Tuesday.

“Conservative people of faith are playing a larger role in shaping the contours and affecting the trajectory of the Republican presidential nomination contest than at any time since they began pouring out of the pews and into the precincts in the late 1970s,” Reed said.

They are also putting their money where their values are.

Santorum is collecting nearly half of his donations from donors who gave less than $200, according to an analysis of Federal Election Commission filings by the Campaign Finance Institute — a higher percentage than any of his Republican rivals.

And while Santorum has trailed his rivals in overall fundraising, he may be catching up fast. Politico reported that Santorum raised $9 million in February compared to Romney's $11.5 million, Santorum's best month yet.

Santorum's campaign also said that in the wake of Southern primary victories, Santorum raised $1 million over a 24-hour period through a grass-roots “money bomb” drive. That is in addition to some $1.8 million pledged by wealthy conservatives, many of them evangelical Christians, at a Santorum fundraiser on March 9 in Houston.

The Susan B. Anthony List also announced on Thursday that it would move its bus tour and mobilization effort for Santorum to Illinois — the kind of “on the ground” efforts that have brought Christian conservatives out for Santorum and upended the predictions of polls and pundits.

“I think there has been a long-term political impact beyond the endorsements” of big-name Christian leaders, said John Green, an expert on religious voting patterns at the University of Akron in Ohio.

Green likened the evangelical support for Santorum to black voters in the 2008 Democratic primaries, who initially backed Hillary Clinton but coalesced around President Obama once he took Iowa and got on a roll.

“There is a pent-up demand for a certain kind of candidate, but that candidate has to demonstrate that they can win,” said Green. Big endorsements, he said, act as a kind of “pump primer” to get voters — in Santorum's case, Christian conservatives — ready to jump on board.

Whether that can carry Santorum to a win in Illinois on Tuesday is uncertain. The former Pennsylvania senator is close behind Romney in most polls, and Illinois' downstate Republicans tend to be conservative Christians like those in the deep South.

Ironically, Santorum would get a huge boost by doing something he has not yet done: win the votes of his fellow Catholics. Santorum is often mistaken for an evangelical by GOP voters; a recent Pew Forum survey showed that among Republican and Republican-leaning voters, just 42 percent of Catholics know that Santorum is himself Catholic.

But as James Warren wrote in The Atlantic, Santorum graduated from a Catholic high school in Illinois, Carmel High School outside Chicago. That could give him a leg up in Obama's home state, and a critical win over Mitt Romney.

“A Santorum victory in Obamaland next week would be stunning — but it wouldn't necessarily be a surprise,” Warren said.

David Gibson
David Gibsonhttp://dgibson.com
David Gibson is an award-winning religion journalist, author and filmmaker. He writes for RNS and until recently covered the religion beat for AOL's Politics Daily. He blogs at Commonweal magazine, and has written two books on Catholic topics, the latest a biography of Pope Benedict XVI.

Our Sponsors

spot_img
spot_img
0 0 votes
Article Rating
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x