Sojourners is launching its new “Voting for Us” campaign highlighting the way that Christians (particularly young Christians) are concerned about a broad array of issues that go beyond traditional stereotypes about “values voters.”
The exit polls in Alabama and Mississippi revealed that Rick Santorum’s strong appeal to social conservatives transcends regional differences, as does Mitt Romney’s reliance on rich voters.
In Mississippi, Santorum won a narrow plurality of evangelicals (35%, compared to Gingrich’s 32% and Romney’s 29%). It broke down almost identically in Alabama, where Santorum, Gingrich and Romney respectively winning 35%, 32% and 27% of evangelicals.
However, Santorum won voters who said candidates’ religious beliefs “matter a great deal” by 15 percentage points in Mississippi and 16 percentage points in Alabama. He also earned support from a whopping 65% of Mississippi voters and 61% of Alabama voters who said “strong moral character” was the most important candidate quality. And once again, Santorum was the runaway favorite among voters who believe abortion should always be illegal.
Once again, Romney’s strongest support came from the wealthy, winning among voters who make over $100k/yr in both Alabama in Mississippi, but coming in third among voters who make less than $50k/yr.
Given that 80% of primary voters in Mississippi and 75% of primary voters in Alabama are evangelical, and that only one quarter of voters in these states had six-figure incomes, Santorum’s victories should hardly have come as a surprise.
The exit polls from Tuesday’s tightly contested Ohio Republican primary closely resemble Michigan’s from last week, with Santorum and Romney’s supporters clearly breaking along religious, ideological and class divides.
Once again, Santorum won white evangelicals (47%, compared to Romney’s 30%), and Romney won Catholics (44%, compared to Santorum’s 31%).
Once again, Romney cleaned up with high-income voters. He beat Santorum by 14 percentage points among those who make over $100K/year and a whopping 29 percentage points among those who make over $200K/year.
Once again, Santorum was the right-wing favorite. He won 48% of “very conservative” voters, compared to Romney’s 30%. Santorum also beat Romney by 9 percentage points among voters who “strongly support” the Tea Party.
Once again, Santorum dominated among anti-abortion voters. Two-thirds of those who say abortion is the most important issue voted for Santorum, and he beat Romney by 16 percentage points among voters who think abortion should always be illegal.
What we have here is a clear divide between the well-heeled establishment and the staunchly conservative base. With Romney now a near-lock to win the nomination, it will be interesting to see if he can broaden his appeal beyond the wealthiest Americans and connect not only with social conservatives, but also with middle- and working-class voters. Given the pitched culture-war battles going on right now, that’s an awfully tall order.
Funded in part by Silicon Valley venture capitalists, the organization hopes to use advanced “micro-targeting” technology to buy massive amounts of consumer data, identify the unregistered voters likely to support conservative candidates, and equip volunteers in their neighborhoods to go door-to-door and sign them up.
Unfortunately, it looks like their ambitious plans have hit an initial snag. Barbara Bradley Hagerty reports:
The first person on [volunteer Scott] Spages’ list lives in a gated community. The guard won’t let him through, so he makes a phone call. He identifies himself and asks if he can speak to Orlando, who — according to UIP’s database — is not registered to vote. Spages listens, then says, “Oh, OK. So, Orlando and everyone in the house is registered? OK.”
Puzzled, Spages drives to the next house. There, too, everyone is registered. It happens again at the next house and the next, so when Spages reaches Brenda Jacobson to ask if she wants to register, he’s not surprised by her answer.
“Well, I’m registered, so I’m not sure why my name showed up,” she says.
“We found that a lot tonight,” Spages responds, “so I’m going to have to double check that.”
As it turns out, all of the names on the Florida list are registered voters — a mistake that United In Purpose discovered after NPR’s reporting. In South Carolina and Iowa, the UIP lists also contained registered voters.
Even in states where the lists are correct, UiP volunteers are finding a lot of unregistered voters are that way for a reason:
“I’m sorry, they’re all crooks and you’ll never be able to blame me,” the woman says, declining the registration form Clymer offers.
“I’m just trying to get Christians to go out and vote,” Clymer protests.
“Well, I’m a Christian, but that’s as far as this is going to go,” she says, and closes the door.
Clymer leaves, discouraged.
“I wish at least one person would take it,” she laments.
But no one takes a registration form that afternoon.
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.