Is there an evangelical vote in New Hampshire?
Certainly, there are evangelicals and evangelicals who vote, but the conventional wisdom is that the demographic that famously boosted former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee to a surprising victory in Iowa is smaller here and less liable to vote for the "Christian leader" Huckabee has presented.
After Fox News' Sunday night debate, in which Huckabee stumbled uncharacteristically on taxes and illegal immigration and equally uncharacteristically avoided any overt religious talk, undecided New Hampshirites were more icy to the Southern governor than the weather:
"I think we don't wear our religion on our shoulder and I think that's how Huckabee got the vote in Iowa and New Hampshire realizes that," said one voter.
"I'm not voting for a pastor. I'm voting for a president of this country. And, when I look at Huckabee, there is so much religion intertwined in him, that he turns me off," said another.
Some have estimated, however, that evangelical voters will make up about one fifth of registered Republican primary voters in New Hampshire Tuesday. And, though Huckabee has certainly taken a less religious tone during his high-profile tour of New Hampshire this weekend, evangelical supporters are still likely to respond to the religious image he has formed up until this weekend.
Before his surge in polls and win in Iowa, Huckabee had preached in at least four New Hampshire evangelical churches, according to the Boston Globe. He spoke briefly at a small church Sunday while attending worship services. Press were allowed a photo op, but not inside the church according to the campaign, so as not to disrupt the services. At Grace Fellowship Church in Nashua, a modern evangelical church in a towering, historic New Hamphire building, casually dressed churchgoers swayed and raised hands while a full band of 20-something musicians gave an electric edge to praise music and old hymns.
The church, which boasts a Russian service and a Brazilian service for immigrant populations, takes civic duty seriously, and the primary is not forgotten inside its walls. Huckabee has preached there on his earlier trips to the state, and Sunday was not without politics, either. The handout featured a reminder:
"We have the rare and historic privilege in thisw state to vote every for years in the first residential primary in the nation! This Tuesday is the New Hampshure Primary. Please do two things; 1) Pray for God to raise up His man or woman and 2) don't forget to vote! Please don't miss your spiritual and civic roles as citizens of both heaven and earth."