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Poll: Evangelicals divided on GOP candidates

WASHINGTON (BP) — Evangelicals who vote Republican are divided over whether to support Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum or Newt Gingrich for the GOP nomination, according to a new poll.

The Jan. 4-8 nationwide survey by the Pew Research Center shows Romney and Santorum with the support of 22 percent each and Gingrich with 18 percent among white evangelicals. Rick Perry gets 10 percent of the evangelical vote and Ron Paul 4 percent. All of the phone calls were conducted after the Jan. 3 Iowa caucuses and before the New Hampshire primary.

Romney actually has a significant lead among white Catholics, who favor him at 33 percent, followed by Gingrich (19 percent) and Santorum (17 percent).

Romney also has a lead among all Republicans with 27 percent to 16 percent for Santorum and Gingrich and Paul at 12 percent. Perry stands at 6 percent.

Some Republican voters and leaders have expressed frustration with the GOP field, and the poll reflects that sentiment. Fifty-one percent of GOP voters rate the choices as “excellent/good” compared to 44 percent who rate it “fair/poor.” At this point in 2008 — when John McCain, Mike Huckabee and Romney were leading the pack — 68 percent of GOP voters rated the field as excellent or good. Pew said the tepid support for the field compares to Democrats in January 2004, when 47 percent of Democrats rated their field excellent/good. John Kerry eventually got the Democratic nomination.

The poll was based on landline and cell phone calls with 1,000 adults.
Compiled by Michael Foust, associate editor of Baptist Press.

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