Total voters thusfar: 1,731,000
Huckabee -- 36%
McCain -- 24%
Percent of total votes cast that were from non-Evangelicals: 58%
Non-Evangelical Voters by candidate:
Romney -- 36%
McCain -- 35%
Paul -- 9%
Huckabee -- 9%
Giuliani -- 5%
Huck's best showing for the non-Evangelical votes was 14% (both in IA and SC--4th place in both instances). In MI he got 8% of non-Evangelical votes. In NH he got just 6%, and in Nevada he got a Hunter-esque 3% of the non-Evangelical votes. This does not bode well for Huckabee from Feb 5th onward (let alone how in the world he could compete in a general election). He's yet to prove that he can move beyond his base (and his gaffe-prone campaigning the last few weeks isn't helping with any "outreach"). Additionally MI, NV, and even SC have shown that he's even having a hard time "locking up" his Evangelical base effectively.
I maintain my position from last week's similar post: Mike Huckabee's sole purpose in this race right now is to dilute Romney's access to social conservative voters so that McCain can win and then Huck can hope to be chosen as VP.
Now onto the Mormon vote in Nevada. Most media outlets seemed to delight in repeating that Romney got 94% of the LDS vote in Nevada. It was repeated time and again as I watched the coverage live and many pundits said/inferred that this factor accounted for Romney's win. Actually, if you subtracted out every single Mormon vote for Romney he still would have won by a double digit margin and had nearly double the votes of either of his next two competitors.
With voting totals around 115,000 in the Dem race (I saw that number on Fox News) that would come out to approximately 3500 LDS voters NOT voting for Romney in the Dem caucus.
By contrast, 25% of the GOP caucus in NV that were Mormon with nearly 45,000 total GOP voters --- therefore around 11250 LDS voters and 94% of them were for Romney . . . but that means nearly 500 were not.So, 4000 LDS in Nevada voted "Not for Romney" and 10,750 voted for Romney. That breaks down to 73% LDS for Romney and 27% LDS that were not for Romney. Not quite the absolutely robotic block-voting group that many media outlets are trying to play up, but, still, a solid base for Romney in the western/mountain states.
An interesting counter-argument about such huge LDS support for Mitt is that LDS have absolutely NO reservations about or aversion to Romney based on his religion, and can therefore view him outside of that context (while most non-LDS cannot) and therefore judge him solely on his record, experience, and issue stances. Romney surely hasn't "pandered" to the LDS base like Huckabee has to his Evangelical base. Historically speaking, there was no huge LDS groundswell of support for Orrin Hatch in 2000, or Mo Udall back in the 70s. Similarly, Harry Reid is a guy that only a tiny fraction of LDS would ever consider voting for based on co-religiosity. In Romney most LDS are able to see, outside of the context of him having a "weird religion," that he is an incredibly competent, faithful, successful, and articulate leader with a record of conservative governance and broad-based executive experience.
I've never thought there was any "upside" for Romney or his supporters to decry the hard or soft bigotry that he's faced because of his religion. Most of us have know it exists, but it is something difficult to quantify. It is what it is and it's hard to change, so why focus on it, right? No one likes a "whiner" and Romney certainly can't be criticized for being one.
However, a recent study out of Vanderbilt University provides pretty convincing evidence that religious aversion to Romney is very real, but has hidden under the cover of his branding as a "flip-flopper." The researchers conclude that such negative perceptions and labels have "stuck" to Romney because of underlying or overt theological misgivings about his religion.
Bias against Mitt Romney’s religion is one of the reasons that the tag “flip-flopper” sticks with the former Massachusetts governor but not his Republican opponents, according to Vanderbilt political scientist[s] . . .Again, I present this not as a complaint or "whining" about it, but in an informational sense. Like Romney, I love data and believe in it's power. Having this new data out there might help people see deeper into the dynamics of this race and self-analyze why there may be an aversion to Romney for which he can hardly be blamed. That he has succeeded and progressed despite this "handicap" is quite impressive IMO.
“We find that of those who accuse Romney of flip-flopping, many admit it is Romney’s Mormonism and not his flip-flopping that is the real issue,” Benson said. “Our survey shows that 26 percent of those who accuse Romney of flip-flopping also indicate that Mormonism, not flip-flopping, is their problem with Romney.” Benson noted that the pattern is especially strong for conservative Evangelicals. According to the poll, 57 percent of them have a bias against Mormons.
The study’s findings suggest that criticizing Romney for flip-flopping is an effective campaign strategy because it sticks with two different groups: those who are genuinely concerned about Romney’s shifts on certain issues and those who use the label as cover for the fact that they do not want to vote for a Mormon for president.
“As the campaign continues to unfold, these data become increasingly relevant as the Republicans choose a presidential nominee,” Geer said.