Stop Lying About Huckabee and Evangelicals!

Posted by: Michael Medved  at 10:59 AM

Predictably enough, most media commentators have totally misinterpreted the nature of Mike Huckabee’s big win in the Iowa GOP caucuses. Conventional wisdom says that he swept to victory based on overwhelming support from Evangelicals, but conventional wisdom is flat-out wrong. According to the exit polls used by major news networks, a majority of voters who described themselves as “evangelical” or “born again” Christians actually voted against Huckabee –with 54% splitting their support among Romney, McCain, Thompson and Ron Paul. Yes, Huckabee’s 46% of Evangelicals was a strong showing, but it was directly comparable to his commanding 40% of women, or 40% of all voters under the age of 30, or 41% of those earning less than $30,000 a year. His powerful appeal to females, the young and the poor make him a different kind of Republican, who connects with voting blocs the GOP needs to win back. He’s hardly the one-dimensional religious candidate of media caricature.

It’s also idiotic and dishonest for observers to keep harping on anti-Mormon bigotry as the basis for Mitt Romney’s disappointing showing. Yeah, it’s true that 81% of Evangelicals voted against Romney— but 75% of ALL Iowa Republicans voted against him, so where is the big evidence of “anti-Mormon bigotry”? In other words, there’s only a 6% difference between his general rejection and his Evangelical rejection. There’s no evidence, in other words, that those who described themselves as “born again” or “evangelical” faced an especially tough time voting for a Mormon. Romney, after all, finished second among this group—as he finished second among the electorate in general. Among Evangelicals, Mormon Mitt beat John McCain, Fred Thompson and Ron Paul by a ratio of nearly two-to-one…a bigger, not smaller margin of victory over these other non-Mormon candidates than he managed to achieve in the electorate in general. The message ought to be obvious: the core issue was phoniness, not faith– and the religious and non-religious alike react badly to phoniness.

Meanwhile, 87% of non-Evangelicals voted against Huckabee…. compared to only 66% of all Iowa Republicans…. in other words a 21% gap! Think about this….  THERE’S MORE EVIDENCE IN THE EXIT POLLS OF ANTI-EVANGELICAL PREJUDICE than there is of anti-Mormon prejudice. Huckabee did well across the board with all groups in the exit polls except one: the 40% who said “no” to the question, “Are you a ‘born-again’ or ‘evangelical’ Christian?” He finished fourth among this group, behind Romney, Thompson and McCain.

The evidence is pretty clear, isn’t it? The preferences of Evangelicals mirrored those of Iowans in general. But the preferences of the “non Evangelical” group were distorted by their religious beliefs (or non-beliefs) and led them (as the same prejudices leads angry members of the conservative establishment) to blast, resent and dismiss the Huck.

Massaging the numbers another way —Huckabee got 46% of the Evangelical vote, only 14% of non-Evangelical— a huge 32% difference based on the rejection by these people of a well-known religious identity.

Romney, on the other hand, got 19% of Evangelical vote, and 33% of non Evangelical voters— a vastly less significant 14% difference…

In other words, Non-Evangelicals appear to have been much more influenced by the religious variable in their distaste for Huck, than Evangelicals were influenced by that variable in their distaste for Mitt.

Those who insist, over and over again, that the Iowa Caucuses reflected “Christian identity politics” or a “tidal wave of Evangelical support” are basing their analysis on feelings, not facts; on vapors, not voters. It’s dishonest to say that a guy who just won a crushing state-wide victory, without even winning the majority of his own religious group, displayed a one dimension appeal to Christian zealots only.

This endlessly repeated story line is not only tired, it’s a lie.  

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2 Responses

  1. I was unable to find contact information on your blog, so I am passing this on to you here:

    http://huckabeemomentum.com/

    We would like you to post about this.

    Contact us if you have any questions.

  2. Hi,
    I am a senior at Shawnee Mission East high school in Prairie Village, KS. I am on the staff of our school newspaper, The Harbinger, and I have signed up to cover the Kansas Republican caucus on Feb. 9. I was wondering if the Huckabee campaign is going to have some kind of event either on that day or some days earlier to get ready for the vote, and if I would be allowed to come and interview and spend some time with Huckabee supporters.

    If someone could get back to me by email, I would appreciate it.

    Thank you,
    Thomas

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