Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Be Careful What You Wish For

There's an interesting article in the Los Angeles Times about the role of religion in the Iowa caucus campaigns by the Republican candidates. Evangelical Christians, who traditionally turn out massively to vote in the caucus, have three candidates vying for their votes. Ironically, that could be a problem for the voters and for the candidates.

Mindful of Mike Huckabee's dramatic win in the 2008 caucus proceedings, Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, and Rick Santorum have all been working hard to capture the Iowa evangelical vote. Each have visited churches across the 99 counties and have sat down with leaders in the hopes of getting endorsements. All three have had some success, which means that they may very well split the usually unified voting bloc.

The candidates who have spent the most time in Iowa — former Pennsylvania Sen. Santorum, Rep. Michele Bachmann and, lately, Texas Gov. Rick Perry — are faring the worst as the Jan. 3 caucuses approach. There are multiple reasons — money and gaffes among them.

But one key reason for their shared disappointment looms: The three are locked in competition for the state's huge bloc of evangelical voters, which represented 60% of caucus voters in 2008. Potent when undivided, it risks becoming insignificant when fractured in so many shards. Evangelical leaders have tried to push their flock in a common direction, but can't even decide for themselves on one candidate.
[Emphasis added]

In other words, evangelical Iowans are facing a surfeit of candidates, and the candidates are facing disappointing numbers because of the three-way split, leaving Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, and even Ron Paul far ahead of the three candidates. Just as important, the evangelicals' power is diluted when it comes to crowing the victor.

That doesn't make me unhappy at all.

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