The EFM Feature
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David writes about it on National Review:

One doesn’t have to dive too much into the exit polls to understand a central fact of the race so far: When Rick Santorum competes hard in a state, he wins the evangelical vote. Where the evangelical vote is dominant (as it is in my home state of Tennessee), he wins the state. It’s not hard to understand why.

Let’s play a candidate word-association game.  If I say “economy,” do you think first of Mitt Romney or Rick Santorum? Exit polls would indicate that Mitt Romney wins a strong plurality of economy-focused voters. Now flip the word to “values.” That’s Rick Santorum’s electoral wheelhouse. To be clear, that’s not to say that Santorum isn’t clearly superior to Obama on economic issues and Romney superior to Obama on the values issues, but the voters are simply reflecting back the candidates’ largely self-defined messages and reputations.

Read it all here.


Comments and Discussion

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14 Responses to Romney, Santorum, and the Evangelical Vote

  1. RC says:

    David,

    I understand exactly what you are saying. I agree with you on all talking points. However, help me out on this one area of concern – for the average evangelical in America, would they rather see the country continue to erode, implode and go bankrupt than vote for Romney? I don’t know! In my heart and mind, I see no way of Santorum beating Obama. I just can’t see it. Where does the evangelicals sit with that question? Can the evangelicals see the independents and moderate democrats voting for Santorum? I can’t see it. I am trying to understand genuinely what is in their minds and how it relates to beating Obama.

      • Terry says:

        My Two-Cent’s Worth

        It’s a Mormon thing, pure and simple. If Romney was Evangelical, they’d be flocking to him. I came across a poll recently showing that 31% of Evangelicals (if I remember the number correctly) stated that they would never vote for a Mormon—period. Then we have some Evangelicals who think that the biggest problem facing the nation is of a moral issue (ergo: why Santorum is resonating with them). The article that statement appeared in didn’t say what those folks thought of the current financial mess of the country. I got the impression that perhaps they assumed that if the moral problems were taken care of, then the financial issues would somehow go away. Naiveté squared, if you ask me.

        A Mormon running the country, to some folks, would be worse than an Atheist running the country. Given the choice, some die-hard Evangelicals (and members of other Christian religions also), would choose the Atheist over the Mormon because the Atheist–except for having no belief in a God—doesn’t have all the “weird” beliefs that Mormons do. The thought of a Mormon in the White House is a genuine concern for some, simply because of what Mormons believe. They think that somehow, these “weird” Mormon beliefs could, over time, affect how the newly elected Mormon president governed. During the last election cycle in 2008, I heard several people express that exact concern on local call-in talk radio shows.

        Sometimes, people vote based on their most irrational concerns, instead of just using a little common sense. Never mind that Romney is the best financial fix-it man on the entire planet. He’s still a *gasp* Mormon, and that rules out any consideration whatsoever of him as president.

        • RC says:

          I am still genuinely confused. I am desperately trying to understand the reasoning behind such a verdict. Let me give an example and see if this comes close.
          I am an employer. I hire 150 individuals in my company. My CFO is retiring and I need to find someone else to take his place. I received 12 applications. As I am reviewing the candidates’ resumes for the position, I noticed 4 of them have excellent qualities, their past work history is incredible, their goals and objectives are eye-popping, their past experiences are top notch. I ask my secretary to set up appointments for these 4 extremely exceptional candidates. I am excited to conduct the interviews. All 4 candidates were dressed very appropriately, hair neat and comely, their character was stainless and their honesty was impeccable. However, during the interviews, I uncover that one of the candidates smokes. Because smoking goes against my values, there gone. The second chews their fingernails, no way, their gone. The third has been married twice, which is against my values, so their gone. And the fourth, well, they are 35 and still single – nope should be married, so their gone.

          Now I am left up creek without a paddle. What do I do? Am I going to hire someone who is a lot less qualified to run my business? Yes, because they belong to my church! But 6 months later I have fire the individual because of the incompetence factor. The bottom question is either I let them go or let my business crash and burn. I think about all of the other 149 employees that I am responsible for. What about them? Should I let my business go bankrupt and everyone looses or do I hire someone who has the knowledge and expertise that is needed to safe my business? Mind you, I am a good and faithful Christian. Doesn’t God look after me because I am one of His? Doesn’t God love me more than my employees? God would not let my business go under because I am Christian, right?

          Maybe God is blessing me through all of my employees, even the ones who run my business departments. Maybe God does love everyone the same without respect of persons.

          I believe that it must not be the church they attend but the Constitution they defend.

        • Shnae Ownbey says:

          It’s a Mormon THING! How come you guys in the south are always the last one to ‘get it’? You really should be asking yourself that. If you already have than I suppose you couild give an example of any mormon political officail who has for whatever reason overstepped or perhaps abused his office for any reason? If you cannot provide a better
          ideaology than this, I belive you have not, because you ask not.

        • Brandon from NJ says:

          “I got the impression that perhaps they assumed that if the moral problems were taken care of, then the financial issues would somehow go away. Naiveté squared, if you ask me.”

          The real issue that people have with morality is that plenty of people don’t realize that morality doesn’t always operate on a top-down, but often is on a bottom-up basis.

          The problem with this financial crisis is the fact that yes, there was the ponzi schemes , there were the banks taking the bad loans from sketchy lenders, but there was also plenty of dishonesty and impatience on the consumer side which allowed for people to be more gullible to what was going on. My point is that there is another side here, which you can’t really govern, but which really depends on the individuals’ very own personal discipline and developed moral conditioning as to what is right and what is wrong.

    • Bruce says:

      I am afraid I have an unpleasant but true answer to RC’s question. Please recall that in every primary thus far Romney has beaten Santorum and Gingrich, both Catholics, with Catholic voters. So why the disparity? Why is Romney doing so well among Catholics, against Catholic candidates, and not so well among Evangelicals. The average believing Catholic is at least as concerned about moral issues as the average believing Evangelical. The answer is simple. The average Catholic has not been told by their clergy and fellow churchgoers for decades that Mormons belong to a sinister cult. I think the Evangelical well has been poisoned as far as Mormons are concerned. Even if Mitt talked day and night about cultural/moral issues, a large fraction of Evangelicals would never vote for him. Their view of Mormons has been shaped by the false witness borne by “Kingdom of the Cults” and any other of a dozen vile books, videos, etc. Chickens coming home to roost.

      • Terry says:

        Bruce nailed it. Reasoning does not even enter the equation as far as some Evangelicals are concerned. Mitt Romney is a Mormon, and that’s all they need to know about him. His Mormonism completely cancels his other qualities. Period.

        Fortunately, some Evangelicals, like Nancy and David, came to the realization that where presidential elections are concerned, what a person’s religion is does not matter in the least. It’s what that person’s moral beliefs are that counts. They know that voting for a Mormon is not going to jeopardize their salvation to the least degree. Sorry to say, though, that other Evangelicals have not come to the same realization.

        There’s really no explaining it. That’s just the way it IS.

      • Brandon from NJ says:

        As a Methodist, and someone who isn’t Mormon, I can add to Terry’s comment further.

        There’s only so far in politics that religion can really carry me. It’s just how things are, part of it comes from my complex upbringing of having an atheist father and brother and a nondenominational sister, brother, and Methodist mother. It’s not a question of complexity, my family who were for much of my life, close to me, were pretty complicated, and having made this choice in the complex family after some time, I really have a hard time taking to issue every last little theological disagreement some people have with me, I would also say that being involved in the Boy Scouts and charitable organizations affiliated with the UMC as a volunteer also made a difference. Do I theologically agree with my father and younger brother, no? but I still love them and have loved them for many years. And wouldn’t just sit by and let anything harm them, with my own life being as complex as it is, I have a hard time thinking that plenty of people of whatever religion don’t have similar challenges and families like mine, Mormons included. I also, through my work at charities, got a good feeling for tolerance because you don’t have to be a Methodist to volunteer with a great deal of the charitable activities that are hosted by the United Methodist Church. Some people who participate or who are the recipients of your charitable work aren’t part of your faith, in fact, most of them likely aren’t. What does charitable work show: plenty of people can unite over common values, and plenty of people not of your faith can be inspirational and exemplary in what you value. It’s just not worth fussing over in the long run.

  2. Kay says:

    We have the opportunity to have the best President this nation has seen in my life time. The nation may miss that opportunity due to misinformation. In a an information world….the wrong information can be shared just as quickly as the right information. I am sure that much of what we are hearing is so diluted, changed, and purposely given to do accomplish the goal of making the good look bad and bad look good. I know I feel that Romney has been attacked harshly and dare say that those who support Gingrich and Santorum are feeling the same way.

  3. Liz says:

    “Values” does not make me think of Rick Santorum. He strikes me as someone who is striving to have integrity, but has really struggled in terms of approaching that ideal. My dad used to tell me one indication of a real disciple is whether or not they pay tithing, and whether or not they keep the Sabbath Day Holy. He said all the other commandments are relatively easy, but these ones distinguish the people who are serious about discipleship. Admittedly, lots of people think they are minor commandments. Santorum obviously feels they are not very important. Nor does Gingrich. That’s fine, but don’t be talking values to me when there is one and only one other candidate that really puts priority on what he believes, to the point that he actually LIVES his beliefs. I find that extraordinary this day and age, and that makes him the “values” candidate as far as I am concerned. I also read this morning about Mrs. Santorum admitting to living with an old abortion doctor for some years. Now, either she was doing opposition research on the guy undercover, or she was giving herself to a….fellow who practices murder. Yikes. Now that was then, this is now….but my brain still has to process that shocking revelation. “Values” candidate.

    • Terry says:

      A little humor in the midst of all the political madness:
      Liz…I had to chuckle about your revelation that Karen Santorum admitted to living with an abortion doctor for some years–not because I found that funny, but because it brought to mind an accusation months ago of Mrs Romney supposedly cheating on Mitt when he was a young man on his mission. The story was revealed by a former missionary companion of Mitt’s, and ran in the National Enquirer. The article tried to sound ominous, with one “political expert” even stating that the incident, when it came to light, would hurt Mitt in the election. “It may have happened years ago,” stated the expert, “but it’s going to have an effect.” As an LDS person who myself served a mission in my younger years, I had to laugh out-right. What the story boiled down to was a typical “Dear John” letter from a young woman who had promised to wait two years for the young man to return from his mission, then becoming attracted to someone else several months after her missionary had left. LDS missionary “Dear John” letter stories are a dime a dozen, as any LDS person knows.

  4. Jon says:

    Exit polls seem to indicate that Santorum gets the Evangelical vote, but Romney gets the Catholic vote. That seems strange to me. Perhaps Catholics share a certain brotherhood with Romney, themselves having been on the receiving end of religious bigotry in this country.

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