romney13.jpgIn reporting about Romney’s ties to Mormon Church Gordon Hinckley, who died this weekend, The Politico points out that it introduces the Mormon factor for the 1,627th time in the race. True enough. But Politico gets it wrong in making the case that Romney has more or less failed among evangelicals:

Conservative Christians, a key Republican constituency, are particularly skeptical of Mormonism. Among self-identified white evangelical Protestants, almost 40-percent had an unfavorable impression of Mormons versus 27-percent of the total population.
Winning evangelical support is important for Romney, as he tries to pull social conservative voters from rival Mike Huckabee’s struggling campaign….
Results from recent primaries in Nevada and South Carolina suggest that Romney’s faith played a role in those states.
Exit polls provided by the Associated Press showed that a quarter of Republican caucus-goers in Nevada were Mormons and they made up half of Romney’s total votes.
In South Carolina, where exit polls suggested evangelical Christians made up 58 percent of the vote, Romney came in a distant fourth with 15 percent of the vote.
He did slightly better with conservative Christian voters in his native state of Michigan, winning the state and 34 percent of self-identified evangelicals—finishing ahead of Huckabee, a former Baptist minister, who had 29 percent.

Come again? A Mormon getting a plurality of evangelical votes–more than an ordained Baptist preacher–is slightly better than a fourth-place finish? Romney was also first among evangelicals in the Nevada caucuses, getting nearly twice as many as Huck. And a recent Mason Dixon poll gives Romney an edge among Florida evangelicals, who are going to the polls right now.
So God-o-Meter has to disagree with Politico. Is Romney getting off the charts evangelical support? No. But no one, including evangelicals in his own campaign, expected him to. Yet Romney’s ability to beat Huckabee among evangelicals in more than one state–with another such victory possibly imminent–is pretty impressive to God-o-Meter. Maybe its standards are just lower than Politico’s.


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