The political pundits dismiss Huckabee’s big win at the Iowa Caucus last week, explaining that Huckabee won only because of the Evangelical vote, and he won’t be able to win anywhere else because his appeal is limited to Evangelicals. The conventional wisdom — repeated ad nauseum — is that Huckabee won because he played the “Christian leader” card, so Evangelicals came out in droves to vote for him in the first caucus in the presidential campaign.
A close reading of the exit poll data used by the major news networks reveals that Evangelicals are far more politically sophisticated than the stereotypes being perpetuated through the media.
Author and commentator Michael Medved studied the details of the exit poll data and found that most commentators apparently didn’t bother to read beyond the headlines and did not bother to study the complete poll results. Even though enough time has passed that diligent reporters could have analyzed the exit polls, they apparently have not done so. Other articles and television commentaries since the Iowa caucus reveal sheep-like tendencies among the pundits, who are all saying the same inaccurate things and repeating the same erroneous mantras.
It’s past time to report what Michael Medved’s analysis of the exit poll data reveal:
Evangelicals are not a monolithic entity. Contrary to media coverage that assumes all Evangelicals vote alike, Evangelicals in the Iowa Caucus supported a wide range of policies and candidates. While 46 percent of Evangelicals voted for Huckabee, more than half of them (54 percent) split their vote among the four other candidates (Romney, McCain, Thompson and Paul). Huckabee benefited from the Evangelical vote, but his support was much broader and deeper than one voting segment.
Evangelicals did not evidence anti-Mormon bigotry. While it is true that a majority of Evangelicals (81 percent) voted against Romney, a majority of ALL Iowa Republicans (75 percent) voted against him — only slightly less than the number of Evangelicals. Further, while Evangelicals spread out their votes among all the candidates, Romney got more than the others. In fact, Medved reported that among Evangelicals, Mitt beat out McCain, Thompson and Paul by two-to-one.
Huckabee’s victory came from about equal support from among four groups. Evangelical support accounted for nearly half of the votes for Huckabee (46 percent), but three other groups gave similar support: 40 percent from women, 40 percent from young voters and 41 percent from poor earners (less than $30,000 per year). It is particularly significant that Huckabee got such a large percentage of votes from younger voters. Much credit has been given to Obama for mobilizing the youth vote, but it should be noted that 40 percent of Huckabee’s support came from young people!
Huckabee had to overcome extraordinary anti-Evangelical bias. The message of Iowa is that anti-Evangelical bias was extraordinary and overwhelming. Eighty-seven percent of non-Evangelicals voted against Huckabee, whereas only 66 percent of all Iowa Republicans voted against him — an astounding 21 percent gap. Medved shows that among those who self-identified as non-Evangelicals, Huckabee finished 4th (behind Romney, Thompson and McCain). It is significant that Huckabee got only 14% of non-Evangelical votes, while Romney got 19% of the Evangelical vote.
Huckabee energized Evangelicals and got them out to the Iowa caucuses –– 60 percent of the total number of voters! That is a significant accomplishment. It is blind prejudice when that powerful Evangelical voting bloc is lumped into one-size-fits-all stereotypes. And, it is incredibly close-minded when a liberal political commentator opines that an Evangelical candidate is ignorant and unfit for public office because his or her theology is Biblically orthodox. Such anti-Evangelical views ought to be renounced as quickly as racism or other biases. Medved’s analysis of the details of the exit polls goes a long way in exposing such biases.