Polls suggest U.S. evangelicals support still fluid

January 17, 2008

rtr1vw96.jpgFormer Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee was their champ in Iowa, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney did well with them in Michigan, and the latest Pew poll shows Huckabee in a narrow lead for their affection ahead of a fourth rival Arizona Sen. John McCain.

Conservative evangelicals, a key Republican base, have still not quite unified around one single presidential candidate — leaving the party’s White House nomination up for grabs.

The latest national survey by the Pew Research Center, which involved the polling of over 1,500 adults from Jan. 9-13, found that among conservative evangelical Republicans, Huckabee had the edge with 33 percent versus 25 percent for McCain. Romney was fourth with just 12 percent.

But in Michigan where Romney — a native son to the state — had a thumping victory on Tuesday night, some exit polls suggested he even edged ahead of Huckabee, who came in third overall,  for their support.

Huckabee’s victory in Iowa was largely attributed to his connection with evangelicals there — but that was a state where many voters got to see the candidates in person and so was tailor-made for the Baptist preacher’s  folksy style, which goes down well with the church-going crowd.

rtr1vugz.jpgIn Michigan, the poor economy there seemed to perhaps weigh most heavily with evangelicals whom some conservative activists have dubbed “values voters.”

What do all of these polls suggest?

“I would say this suggests that Huckabee still has work to do,” said the Pew’s Scott Keeter.

“McCain is regarded as a very conservative candidate. The evangelicals, while they do value the religious dimension they share with Huckabee, have a  social conservatism that is very consistent with McCain’s on the issue of abortion. He’s not out of step with them on a range of issues,” he said.

McCain’s Vietnam war-hero status and tough-guy talk and experience in areas of national security also resonate with many evangelicals — and he has the lead in most polls of South Carolina, which holds a crucial “first-in-the-South” Republican primary on Saturday.

But count on Huckabee to make a big bid for the substantial evangelical vote there.

Click here for more Reuters 2008 campaign coverage

— Photo credit: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst (Romney campaigning in South Carolina), Rebecca Cook (Huckabee during a campaign stop in Michigan on Tuesday).


We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/

Why are the Montana results left out of the report?

Posted by Mark | Report as abusive

whoops, Wyoming not Montana. Somewhere out there. Doesn’t that make two states out of four for Romney, and nearly twice as many delegates as the next runner up?

Posted by Mark | Report as abusive

Mike Huckabee is soaring!

It is men like this who constructed the Constitution of this great nation. Huckabee is a man that will be written into our history books as being one of the greatest leaders our Country has ever produced.

We like Mike!

Dan Campbell

Posted by Dan Campbell | Report as abusive

John McCain is considered conservative?! What about McCain Feingold? What about his voting against the Bush tax cuts? What about the recent amnesty bill that he supported? What about his voting against the Marriage Protection Amendment? John McCain is a conservative? Hardly.

Posted by Mike | Report as abusive

I am at a loss as to how Evangelicals view either Huckabee or McCain as conservative!?! Neither of them have true conservative records. McCain worsened the polital process with the McCain Feingold bill, the McCain Kennedy bill certainly isn’t in step with the view of most Americans in regard to illegal immigration. He voted against the tax cuts which kept our country from recession after 9-11. He is being endorsed by Joe Lieberman, a democrat turned independent. While I like Joe Lieberman – I believe he has integrity, I can’t help but be weary when a democrat endorses a supposed conservative! Mike Huckabee has behaved more as a liberal as well in Arkansas…raised taxes, his record on pardons is insane! Worse than that, he has been investigated for 14 ethical violations – cited for 5 or 6. It’s interesting that Romney, Thompson and McCain have all been victims of push polling from the Huckabee camp – which of course Huckabee adamantly denies…he says he’s asked them to stop (I’ll bet). Mike Huckabee uses his pulpit and the support of other preachers to perpetuate the fear of Mormons into the Evangelicals. Fortunately many of them know a Mormon and know that they aren’t the crazed cult members that Huckabee tries to paint them as. He also uses the fact that he’s not rich to try and win votes – slamming Mitt Romney for being a successful businessman. Isn’t capitalism the system this country is built on? I hope that Mike Huckabee will be exposed as the phony he is – I don’t like his record and I don’t like his tactics…he is one RINO I could never support. I pray that Evangelicals will look past his “Christianity” and see him for what he is. Mitt Romney is the best man for this country. If Evangelicals are fearful of his Mormonism they should ignore what they have been taught and go to mormon.org to find what it is the Mormons believe. I think they might be surprised to find that Mormons are just as Christian as they are!

Posted by tam6824 | Report as abusive

The pretenders can’t outrun their records. Time will prove the only conservative in the race;

Candidate Research – Know Who You’re Voting For ( The Easy Way ) http://tinyurl.com/2sowta

Posted by Winghunter | Report as abusive


Just what kind of fluid leaves me the supicion that as usual it with the corrosive acid of hate and condemnation, that so many bible-belters enjoy manifesting.

The trouble with the US voting system is that is allows these racist hypocrites the chance to trample over all that is good and new.

Obama has not got a chance – they will fall into their usual routine of saying NO to blacks and all other social groups that they so extravagantly dislike.

Posted by Keith M Warwick | Report as abusive