Patterico's Pontifications

3/15/2012

Romney and evangelicals, revisited

Filed under: 2012 Election — Karl @ 10:41 am

[Posted by Karl]

It figures that days after considering whether there might be an anti-Mormon “Romney effect” in 2012, there would be fresh data from Michael Tesler at YouGov:

Media speculation abounds that Mitt Romney’s poor performance among Evangelical voters in the 2012 Primaries is rooted in anti-Mormonism—a sentiment that will surely intensify if the former governor loses this week in Alabama and Mississippi.  My analysis of seven surveys conducted by YouGov from late January to early March 2012 (pooled n=7,000, with 1,791 likely Republican primary voters), however, suggests that Romney’s religion is not the main reason why he has not won over these voters.

***

Why, then, has Romney underperformed among this group throughout the primary season?  The answer most likely resides in moral issues like abortion and gay marriage.  For, unlike attitudes about Mormons, Evangelical Republicans are much more conservative on these issues than their fellow partisans.  Moreover, and also unlike anti-Mormonism, Evangelicals are more likely to vote in the primaries based upon moral issues than other Republicans.

This is consistent with Erick Erickson’s January account of a meeting of prominent Christian conservatives — one which also suggests Team Romney played this all wrong (although Erickson is no Romney fan for a host of reasons):

If you are reading this from the media, I think the story you should tell is that Mitt Romney will probably become the nominee of the Republican Party with even less good feelings between evangelicals and him than John McCain had.

The problem for Team Romney is that the distrust of Romney is overwhelmingly about his record and shiftiness, but the Romney campaign fundamentally believes it is about his religion. When Team Romney concluded the pitch (read from an iPad seemingly without a passionate delivery) with an admonishment to not be an anti-Mormon bigot, it was game over. Several of the attendees felt like the Romney campaign was almost implying that they’d win without evangelicals and would expect everyone to line up when it was over even without Romney reaching out.

Erickson’s reference to John McCain is interesting, as ol’ Maverick also had a more difficult time with the evangelical vote than George W. Bush.  Comparing the 2004 and 2008 exit polls, it appears evangelical turnout marginally increased — as it has for decades, due in large part to the rising socioeconomic status (.pdf) of the demo — from 23% to 26% of voters.  However, Bush won 78% of white evangelicals, while McCain only won 73%. Overall, that’s a little over a percent of the electorate — which seems small, but which could matter in a very close election, depending on where those votes are located (it would likely be less significant a loss in Alabama or Mississippi than in Virginia, North Carolina or Georgia).

Of course, the exits are not detailed enough to explain the difference from ’04 to ’08, so it would be risky to assume McCain’s showing was all or even largely about evangelicals thinking he was insufficiently committed to social issues.    Evangelicals care about those issues, but not all of them are single-issue voters.  The economic meltdown of ’08 may well have played a role here.  Moreover, it is possible that the larger youth vote in 2008 brought out young evangelicals who are less socially conservative than their parents.  In these respects, the 2012 environment would likely be more favorable to Romney, should he become the GOP nominee.

The lesson here is that Romney should be able to make inroads with evangelicals if he becomes the GOP nominee.  The question is whether he is up to the task.  Maintaining his standard cool attitude about the campaign in this regard may make it tougher for someone perceived as inauthentic to build bridges with this demographic.

–Karl

46 Responses to “Romney and evangelicals, revisited”

  1. Ding!

    Karl (f07e38)

  2. I hope it’s not anti-mormonism.

    I don’t see how Romney is supposed to fix this, though. He’s already made plenty of pro life noises… he can’t change his record on this. If he’s the nominee, hopefully people show up and vote against Obama. The key to that is a campaign that hits Obama hard. I don’t think Romney has any alternative. I wish we had a candidate who would present an honest case for reforms and had a record that consistently backed that up, but we don’t.

    I hope Ann Coulter was wrong when she said we would nominate Romney and then lose to Obama.

    Dustin (401f3a)

  3. If he was a Baptist like Lindsey, the reaction would more or less the same.

    narciso (186b54)

  4. The problem for Team Romney is that the distrust of Romney is overwhelmingly about his record and shiftiness, but the Romney campaign fundamentally believes it is about his religion.

    believes or claims ?

    I think they have a good reason for claiming this is about his religion. If so,

    1) People might be ashamed to join in.

    2) The effect is limited to evangelicals, who can be claimed to be a big factor only in certain states, and that helps the trope of Romney’s inevitability.

    Sammy Finkelman (d22d64)

  5. it’s hard to out-evangelical frothy leakage

    Santorum says in a statement posted to his website, “The Obama Administration has turned a blind eye to those who wish to preserve our culture from the scourge of pornography and has refused to enforce obscenity laws.”

    If elected, he promises to “vigorously” enforce laws that “prohibit distribution of hardcore (obscene) pornography on the Internet, on cable/satellite TV, on hotel/motel TV, in retail >shops and through the mail or by common carrier.”

    This is the hill.

    Now is the time.

    Frothy 2012!

    happyfeet (a55ba0)

  6. They even said that:

    When Team Romney concluded the pitch (read from an iPad seemingly without a passionate delivery) with an admonishment to not be an anti-Mormon bigot, it was game over.

    The mystery here is why Erick Erickson used the word “believes” like he believed they believed that. Did an editor change that?

    Several of the attendees felt like the Romney campaign was almost implying that they’d win without evangelicals and would expect everyone to line up when it was over even without Romney reaching out.

    No. Almost said .

    But strongly implied.

    Not almost implied.

    Sammy Finkelman (d22d64)

  7. Erick Erickon January 16:

    But by voting for Santorum, the group largely undercut more serious efforts waged by Gingrich to stop Romney

    Sammy Finkelman (d22d64)

  8. Well some might have gotten the silly notion that McCain had thrown the match, and not thoroughly
    challenged Obama, guess what, that’s what Schmidt
    admitted, after the election

    narciso (186b54)

  9. remember also that McCain explicitly fingered anti-mormon evangelical bigotry for to explain Romney’s struggle in South Carolina

    happyfeet (a55ba0)

  10. Yeah, Mccain kinda hates Republicans, Happyfeet. Odd guy.

    This reminds me of Ford’s primary. I think the Romney campaign is like Mccain in being well out of touch with many potential supporters. Assuming it’s bigotry when Romney’s got that glaring record is just adding insult to injury. I don’t see how it helps him. I guess I could be cynical and hope the meme takes root, but it’s going to be a problem in November if it does.

    Dustin (401f3a)

  11. The old Mormons are not socially conservative meme. Pull my other finger.

    daleyrocks (bf33e9)

  12. “Media speculation abounds that Mitt Romney’s poor performance among Evangelical voters in the 2012 Primaries is rooted in anti-Mormonism…”

    Yeah, I reckon the media types would rather speculate on some unimportant (and unverifiable) side issue than confront the sad fact, that if the presidential election was held today, their darling would lose to Romney.

    That’s how bad of a candidate he is. Might not be that way a few months from now, but it is at the moment, and I suspect that most people in the media aren’t best pleased that their boy is looking so bad, and would prefer to avoid the central subject, if at all possible.

    Dave Surls (46b08c)

  13. The old Mormons are not socially conservative meme. Pull my other wife’s finger.

    – FTFY!

    Icy (02b509)

  14. Mitt being a morman is a huge positive, compared to the current moron in chief.

    sickofrinos (44de53)

  15. Romney needs to go with his strength and with what works, so:

    1)Go all out in ads, talking points etc. telling potential voters that Romney is the most authentic and most consistent candidate. Everything he does and says is from a genuine, principled core. Unwavering, unassailable.

    2) Do a massive email campaign letting everyone know that Romney actually is an evangelical Baptist. Really. Email this often and repeatedly, especially in the “South.” The hope is that it gets enough traction to become an insinuation meme carried by Fox News commentators and news reporters. The email/Fox thing has been proven effective: about a third of the nation believes Obama is a Muslim because of this tactic. Adopt it. Romney is an evangelical Baptist.

    Larry Reilly (68901f)

  16. Southern evangelicals are NOT rejected Romney because he is a Mormon. They are rejecting him because he governed like a freaking liberal.

    The problem is that the media thinks Southerners are too stupid to actually research how Romney governed.

    retire05 (a4365a)

  17. Mawy Weilly is an unbiased JournoLister. I would not trust it to report 2+2 accurately.

    JD (d246fe)

  18. From what I have heard–Romney/R-PACs are running very heavy/negative adds against the other Republicans.

    To me (and many?) this strikes the cord of what McCain did last time–More than willing to rip a new one against Republicans–But, apparently, will not run against Obama, either in the primaries or (my worry) in the presidential elections.

    Given that Romney is politically closer to Obama than any other person running at this time–It does not bode well–Vote for me because I am not quite as left wing as the current president.

    Not that I am hearing from anyone what concerns me… Over spending by the government(s) (fed, state, local). There is only so much they can raise taxes. California has multiple times raised tax rates only to see tax revenues (and employment) fall (as have other states with their “millionaire taxes).

    (Me, “decline to state”–Too right wing for Republican Party).

    BfC (fd87e7)

  19. Well said, bfc.

    Unfortunately, I don’t see the better realistic option. Romney’s going to be the nominee. He’s not going to be as hard on Obama as he was on the conservatives. We’re going to have to accept the lesser of two evils and we’re not going to see spending seriously addressed unless we elect some kind of amazing congress.

    Obama’s gotta go, but I had been hoping for more.

    Dustin (401f3a)

  20. Gee, I wonder why people think Pres Obama is a Muslim

    There is supposed to be another time he has said this too…

    Plus …Mr. Obama recalled the opening lines of the Arabic call to prayer, reciting them with a first-rate accent. In a remark that seemed delightfully uncalculated (it’ll give Alabama voters heart attacks), Mr. Obama described the call to prayer as “one of the prettiest sounds on Earth at sunset.”

    And, Obama sure seems to be up in the Christian/Catholic faiths’ freedom of religion with Birth Control and Abortion. But apologizing to Muslims for burning their books (while burning Christian Bibles).

    BfC (fd87e7)

  21. Do a massive email campaign letting everyone know that Romney actually is an evangelical Baptist. Really. Email this often and repeatedly, especially in the “South.” The hope is that it gets enough traction to become an insinuation meme carried by Fox News commentators and news reporters. The email/Fox thing has been proven effective: about a third of the nation believes Obama is a Muslim because of this tactic. Adopt it. Romney is an evangelical Baptist.

    Comment by Mawry Reilly

    And that’s why women should never pole vault.

    The End.

    Colonel Haiku (677459)

  22. Hey, BfC, good one there on Obama burning Christian Bibles (as opposed to, say, Buddhist Bibles, or Baha’i Bibles or whatever) while apologizing for burning Korans. I expect if you keep up that sort of stellar work that Patterico will invite you in as a co-blogger or guest blogger.
    Keep up the good work in exposing Obama as a not-so-secret Muslim. Maybe sometime you could share with us some of your secret stash of Obama birth certificate porn.

    And, hey, JD, how come you’re so gay you never have anything substantive to say? It might maintain your delusions of adequacy, but not much else. Still, it’s impressive that you can tell time — always seems correctly done at the end of your posts.

    And dear kernel high koo-koo, I expect your ladies don’t plan on pole vaulting when they’re with you.

    Larry Reilly (68901f)

  23. The thing is Colonel, there isn’t a marked difference between the trolls and the journolists.

    narciso (6b94ef)

  24. You are an intolerant homophobe, Mawy Weilly. Why do you leftists always call people gay? JournoListers suck.

    JD (318f81)

  25. I wonder what Mawy Weilly’s editors would think of him running around the innertubes calling people gay and being an intolerant homophobe?

    JD (318f81)

  26. oh, Mawee Weilly
    colonel knockin bottom out
    you back that rig up

    Colonel Haiku (677459)

  27. Don’t sell your hair to a wig shop, Larry.

    JD (318f81)

  28. daley,

    I don’t think people think Mormons aren’t socially conservative. I think people think Romney isn’t.

    Karl (6f7ecd)

  29. Larry Reilly,

    What makes you think I am a left wing Democrat/Hillary Clinton supporter?

    In August 2008, before Obama was officially nominated by the Democrat party, Mr. Berg filed a legal challenge to Obama’s constitutional eligibility to occupy the Oval Office.

    On October 23, Mr. Berg filed a Motion to Expedite Resolution of Berg V. Obama, summarized directly below:

    ” This motion argues that the facts have been established that Barack Obama is not constitutionally qualified to be elected or serve as President of the United States, and that the Court should issue a summary judgment as follows:

    That Barack Hussein Obama a/k/a Barry Hussein Obama a/k/a Barack Dunham a/k/a Barry Dunham a/k/a Barack Soetoro a/k/a Barry Soetoro is not a “natural born” or “naturalized” United States citizen.
    That he is ineligible to run for and/or serve as President of the United States.
    That the Democratic National Committee be enjoined from naming Barack Hussein Obama, et al as the Democratic Presidential Candidate on the ballot.
    That the Democratic National Committee and Barack Hussein Obama, et al are enjoined from any further campaigning on behalf of Barack Hussein Obama, et al for Office of the Presidency.
    That Barack Hussein Obama’s, et al name be removed from any and all ballots for the Office of the President of the United States.”

    I think you are a bit confused Larry.

    BfC (fd87e7)

  30. I don’t think people think Mormons aren’t socially conservative. I think people think Romney isn’t.

    Comment by Karl

    I don’t think most people have a clue about the Mormon church. They’ve been lead to believe that HBO’s “Big Love” is all they need to know.

    Romney was a bishop in the church, and you don’t accept that calling – unpaid and requiring much time and effort – unless you are a member in good standing. And to be a member in good standing requires personal adherence to socially conservative principles that would leave Santorum whining and chafing.

    Colonel Haiku (677459)

  31. My personal impression is that mormons are quite socially conservative (which is to say about as socially conservative as I am). I didn’t even know there was a meme that they weren’t, but if there is that’s interesting given the Prop 8 battle.

    But I’m pretty out of touch on that stuff.

    Dustin (401f3a)

  32. No, it’s not about personal faith, it’s about the fact that Santorum was defeating Hillarycare’s stalking horse, Wofford, employer of the future
    deputy white house counsel, back in ’94, that Newt
    was pushing the Contract back then.

    narciso (6b94ef)

  33. I would think that the Mormon Church is pretty conservative (and Utah seems to be a pretty well run state)… However, Romney seems to be a little “overly” squishy in his stands over the years (granted, this is a CBS news report):

    Asked to show he wouldn’t change positions in the future, Romney responded: “You know, the issue where I change my mind, which obviously draws a lot of attention was that when I was running for governor, I said I would leave the law in place as it related to abortion. And I thought I could go in that narrow path between my personal belief and letting government stay out of the issue.”

    vs 1994:

    “I believe that abortion should be safe and legal in this country; I have since the time that my mom took that position when she ran in 1970 as a U.S. Senate candidate,” he said then. “I believe that since Roe v. Wade has been the law for 20 years, that we should sustain and support it.”

    At the time, Romney explained his support for abortion rights by pointing to a personal experience.

    “I have my own beliefs, and those beliefs are very dear to me,” he said. “One of them is that I do not impose my beliefs on other people. Many, many years ago, I had a dear, close family relative that was very close to me who passed away from an illegal abortion. It is since that time that my mother and my family have been committed to the belief that we can believe as we want, but we will not force our beliefs on others on that matter. And you will not see me wavering on that.”

    Personally, I would like the Federal Government to stay out of abortion (pro or con). States–Probably I would like them to stay out of it too.

    Having the government fund abortions with tax payer/mandatory health care funds is a bridge too far for many.

    BfC (fd87e7)

  34. I still say its because he lies like Ogabe. The big difference he doesn’t want our children dead.

    They have bills to pay.

    gary gulrud (d88477)

  35. Narciso, you’re right. In fact, I wonder if this is a bit like how Obama fans call opposition to Obama racist. It’s their way of rationalizing hating people who don’t buy in.

    Dustin (401f3a)

  36. It’s the 800 pound gorilla in the room, If one believes someone will fight for you, you will back them a hundred percent, if there is hesitancy why bother,

    narciso (6b94ef)

  37. Mawy is being extra jerky tonight. Perhaps a Random drug test is in order?

    Icy (02b509)

  38. Why is it, that we all can see what Romney is: inauthentic, plastic, elitist, out of touch, malleable, yet pundits keep telling us he with re-connect after he is the nominee? He is all of these things and worse– he is a loser. 70% of those who vote in primaries DONT WANT HIM. Who votes in primaries? Only those bitter clingers who are again “likely” to vote in the general. He thinks there will be a groundswell of middle of the road voters? These are the uninformed and unmotivated. He is not a motivator. He couldnt get me to step out of traffic. We are doomed.

    SDHarms (38a285)

  39. 38. And just to continue with all that:

    http://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com/2012/03/wall-street-pimps-and-whores-story.html

    Mish’s top stories, 1.) Wall and Broad Fraud, 2.) Cali Revenues down 22.5% 3.) China in Hard Landing.

    Government and Big Finance/Business are in total failure. Your expert on any corner of this reality contributed in some measure.

    Elect a McVain or a McBain? What do you use for a brain?

    gary gulrud (d88477)

  40. In your spare time, do a study of Evangelicals’ assessment of the “fallen nature” of mankind vis a vis, the secular humanist, or religious syncretists belief in social Darwinism with an eye to empirical evidence.

    Which of the two might seem more realistic?

    gary gulrud (d88477)

  41. He is our version of Cameron, BP and NewsCorp’s man,
    without sufficient conviction in his own party’s beliefs, buoyed by the inevitable scapegoats on Wall Street, but we see the flipside, about any
    one who shows any true belief, don’t we.

    narciso (6b94ef)

  42. One would think that somebody would figure out that it’s time to stop dancing to the liberal media’s jig and get our focus back on Obama and what he’s done to this country over the past three and half years.

    The central issues for this election are Obama, the deficit, federal spending, our appalling unemployment rate, government regulatory overreach, our lack of energy policy, union corruption, entitlement spending, and government waste, fraud and abuse.

    We can stroke our chins and ponder silly crap like Romney’s Mormon church, gay rights, contraception and abortion, Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin, the latest food group, polar bears and spotted owls. Or we can get off our butts and stop dancing for the liberal media every time they come up with another phony shiny object to dangle from the bushes.

    This election matters. A lot.

    bobdog (166386)

  43. He’s waging a war on every front, not just the economy, mostly with lies,

    nicole wallace (6b94ef)

  44. Someone should start vetting Mitt’s handlers.
    They are not what this country needs.
    The gentleman’s quarterly sect.
    Like waiting tables in a 5 star restaurant,”Lying for Fun and Profit”

    sickofrinos (44de53)

  45. IMO, during Romneys 08 run between Iowa-SC run there was some attempts to stir up anti-LDS. (mostly by nominee contender Huckabee) After almost 4 long years of Obama its negligible and way down the list. In general even those tempted to indulge in such old turf wars now find it a reckless indulgence. Much like conservative Protestent-Catholic-Jews setting aside old turf wars, to face an increasingly aggressive leftist government.

    For perspective, Iowas nomination has long been useless, and South Carolina (where I once lived) has been a particularly nasty place. Recall, when the Bush Team fanned those those rumors of a half brown bastard baby about McCain?

    Every election seems to have some story like that with SC.

    Shiggz RocketSurgeon (1bd891)

  46. The most important election, is everyday against the Leftist Media.

    #Vote with your remote!

    Shiggz RocketSurgeon (1bd891)


Powered by WordPress.

Page loaded in: 0.4251 secs.