This week's Republican caucuses in Iowa, in which former Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts, right,
and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum finished in a virtual dead heat, showed that "White evangelical voters just aren’t as predictable as they used to be," Lisa Miller reports for The Washington Post.
"It’s bound to be reflected in Republican primary results all over the country." (Photo by Charles Krupa, The Associated Press)
Romney won in urban areas, Santorum in rural, as detailed
by Bill Bishop in the Daily Yonder
. "In Iowa, where the vast majority of voters qualify as 'white evangelicals,' these results can only mean one thing," Miller writes. "Conservative Christians who reside in urban areas may have been taught in Sunday school that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
is a heretical sect, but they’re willing to look beyond those teachings and cast a vote for a Mormon who was once pro-choice. Their brothers and sisters who reside in the country are not."
Miller says that is "very good news for Romney," because about 80 percent of Americans live in urban areas, but she does not address the possibility that continued reluctance on the part of rural evangelicals to vote for a Mormon could still cost Romney a state or two and the presidency. A test of that will come in the Jan. 21 primary in South Carolina, where three polls released yesterday showed him leading.
The new Romney supporters include Shaun Richburg of Florence, S.C., an office manager who originally supported Texas Gov. Rick Perry. “I know he’s Mormon, but that doesn’t bother me,” he told Adam Beam of The State
newspaper in Columbia, “I just think he’s an honest person, and I know he’s a good businessman.” (Read more
) Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman is also a Mormon.
Miller writes, "Following the same path as American Catholics and Jews and other once-insular groups before them, conservative Christians have joined the world," going to college more than before and going to work in cities and suburbs. "They made friends with their roommates and colleagues and neighbors who were Jews and Muslims and Mormons and atheists. . . . The result has been a growing flexibility in the political opinions of urban Christians."
Those factors were also in play in 2008, according to polls by the California-based Barna Group
. “The more urban they were, the more coastal they were, the less evangelicals saw Romney’s Mormonism as a barrier,” David Kinnaman, president of the firm, told Miller. (Read more