October 22, 2011

IT'S NOT A POPULARITY CONTEST:

Evangelicals hold sway in Iowa caucuses (Seema Mehta, 10/21/11, Los Angeles Times)

"A lot of behind-the-scenes wooing and romancing is going on," said Ralph Reed, chairman of the Faith and Freedom Coalition, which will host a forum Saturday that will be attended by nearly every Republican candidate. "The reason why is fairly obvious: If someone underperforms among that constituency, arithmetically, it becomes very difficult to end up in the top one or two places" in Iowa.

About 1,000 evangelical voters are expected to attend the forum, and an additional 2,500 are expected at a pre-Thanksgiving round-table in Des Moines held by the Family Leader, an umbrella group of socially conservative organizations that banded together for the 2012 campaign.

In 2008, as many as 60% of caucusgoers here identified themselves as evangelical, and they united behind former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee to give him a surprise first-place finish over establishment candidate Mitt Romney.

"When that group coalesces around somebody, take all the [other] endorsements and fundraising advantage and flush them down the toilet," said Steve Deace, a conservative radio host. "We don't have an obvious champion this time, at least not now." [...]

The one name that rarely arises, except with derision, is Mitt Romney, who is not attending Saturday's forum. Most were skeptical about the former Massachusetts governor's change in positions over the years, notably on abortion, which he now opposes. One said his Mormon faith was a concern.

"I don't think Mormonism is the same as Christianity," said Kathy Somers, 41, of Atlantic, before adding that she was turned off by his record as governor. "I question his conservativeness."

Posted by at October 22, 2011 9:24 AM
  

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