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Sunday, January 20, 2008

Post SC/NV Evangelical vs non-Evangelical Scorecard (with NV Mormon vote analysis)

Based on Exit polling from SC, NV, MI, NH, and IA (as well as real vote tallies from the five states--apologies to WY!):

Total voters thusfar: 1,731,000
Total "Evangelical/""Born Again" voters: 734,200
Total non-Evangelical voters: 996,800

Evangelical Numbers

Percent of total votes cast that were from Evangelicals: 42%

Evangelical Voters by candidate:

Huckabee -- 36%
Romney -- 25%
McCain -- 24%
Thompson -- 10%
Paul -- 4%
Giuliani -- 1%

Before SC, Romney was tied with Huckabee at 31% each with the Evangelical voters. Huckabee has an undisputed "base" among Evangelicals, but both Romney and McCain have proven that they can get a significant portion of the "Evangelical vote."

Non-Evangelical Numbers

Percent of total votes cast that were from non-Evangelicals: 58%

Non-Evangelical Voters by candidate:

Romney -- 36%
McCain -- 35%
Paul -- 9%
Huckabee -- 9%
Thompson -- 6%
Giuliani -- 5%

Yes folks . . . the appeal for Huckabee to non-Evangelical voters is on par with Ron Paul's (before this Sat he actually trailed Ron Paul among non-Evangelical votes by quite a large margin). Huckabee definitely HAS NOT proven in any contest thus far that he can get non-Evangelicals to support him in large numbers.

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.

But others seemed to express dismay that one religious group would be so absolutely monolithic in it's support. However, they fail to recognize that Dems NV Exit polling shows that 3% of those participating in the Democratic caucus were Mormons. I'm guessing NONE of them voted for Romney (sarcasm intended).

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] . . .

“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.
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.



Anonymous said...

South Carolina has driven one more nail into the political coffin of Mitt Romney. Just as I predicted. Granted Romney did get a small victory in Nevada thanks to the fact that it lies in the Mormon Belt of America. (Im willing to give him the rest of the Mormon states as well, ie Utah and Idaho. But after that it will be "No More Soup" for Mitt. The dominos are falling and they are not falling in Mitt's direction.

Jeff Fuller said...

Rules of the blogosphere:

#1 Anonymous commentors do not get to claim that they "predicted anything."

That "small victory" in NV got Mitt LOADS of delegates.

Also, if you take away every single LDS vote Mitt got in NV he would have still won

Mitt 34%
Paul 18%
McCain 17%
etc . . .

Mitt's surging in FL as Thompson and Huck crumble and McCain/Giuliani fight eachother over the moderate Republicans. Latest poll (Rass) has Romney beating McCain by 5% in FL (and Rudy by 6%).

Joe Mama said...

Anonymous -

If it was so easy to win in Wyoming, and Nevada, why didn't anybody else compete there?

Oh right. Mitt has a superior organization.

Anonymous said...

Mitt won WY and NV for one reason. The Mormons turned out in droves to vote for the candidate that GBH instructed them to vote for. All Mormons take their marching orders from President of the Universe Gordon B. Hinckley. And that also includes Gov. Romney. GBH contacts Mitt each and everyday with marching orders. Every word that comes out of Romney's mouth originated from "The Big House" in Salt Lake City which is the Capitol of the Universe.