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Santorum struggles with Catholics, Romney resonates with the rich

February 29, 2012, 2:18 pm | Posted by Dan Nejfelt

Ed Kilgore has a great post today about Rick Santorum’s failure to win Catholic voters in Michigan last night. Here’s Ed:

…based on prior evidence, there’s really no particular reason to think the “Catholic vote” was ever Santorum’s to lose. His voting base has always been conservative evangelical Protestants, who also make up a high percentage of the voters fixated on making abortion illegal, a particularly strong Santorum demographic. I’m sure the JFK slur didn’t help, but this is one “surprise” in Michigan that really shouldn’t have been that surprising.

The exit polls strongly support Ed’s diagnosis. Santorum’s strongest support came from voters who think abortion is the most important issue (77%) and people who think abortion should always be illegal (60%), and he bested Romney by 16 percentage points among evangelicals and 42 percentage points among voters who said the candidates’ religious beliefs matter a great deal.

A couple of other things from the exits jumped out at me:

  • Santorum dominated among the hard right, winning 50% of voters who identify as “very conservative,” compared to Romney’s 36% support among this group.
  • Romney continued to garner support from wealthy voters and struggle among middle-class and blue-collar voters. Romney won 55% of voters with incomes of $200k or more, but Santorum beat him among all other income brackets those who make less than $100k.

On the whole, the exits suggest that the contest between Santorum and Romney looks a lot like a face-off between the GOP base and the well-heeled establishment.

One Response to “Santorum struggles with Catholics, Romney resonates with the rich”

  1. Bob Cornwall says:

    Living here in Michigan, I think it’s important to note that Romney’s margin of victory was same statewide as it was in Oakland Country, the relatively affluent county just to the north of Detroit. The comments on education didn’t help in this county. Interestingly it has, along with neighboring Macomb County, a fairly sizable Catholic community. Had he won just a few thousand more votes in Oakland County he would have won the election.

    Oh, and I don’t think Romney can win Michigan in the Fall.