NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–A new poll spotlighting the faith community’s outlook on the 2012 campaign shows that evangelicals have high views of Mike Huckabee and Sarah Palin, less-than-enthusiastic views of Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney, and low views of President Obama.
The Barna survey is the latest round of good polling news for Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor and Southern Baptist minister who is weighing whether to run for the Republican nomination. He already has said he will not participate in the early GOP debates, set to begin this spring. The fact that he leads among evangelicals is no surprise — he rode the wave of evangelical support in 2008 to a second-place primary finish — but it does show that his base of support has not eroded.
Among evangelicals, Huckabee’s ratings (88 percent favorable, 11 percent unfavorable) led those of Palin (79 percent favorable, 21 percent unfavorable), Gingrich (57 percent/37 percent), Romney (56 percent/29 percent and Ron Paul (51 percent/26 percent). Obama, though, is viewed favorably by only 6 percent of evangelicals. Ninety-four percent view him unfavorably.
The Barna survey was based on interviews with 1,021 adults nationwide Feb. 10-18.
Huckabee has led in several major polls examining Republicans’ preference for the 2012 nomination:
— A Gallup Poll of 1,326 Republican voters and Republican-leaning independents showed Huckabee at 18 percent, Romney and Palin at 16 percent each and Gingrich at 9 percent.
— A Winthrop Poll of only Southern state voters listed Huckabee at 20 percent, Gingrich at 11 percent, Palin at 10 percent, Chris Christie at 8 percent and Romney at 7 percent. The poll surveyed 825 adults Feb. 21-27.
— An NBC News/Wall Street Journal Poll of 282 GOP voters Feb. 24-28 showed Huckabee leading with 25 percent, followed by Romney (21 percent), Gingrich (13 percent) and Palin (12 percent).
Barna defines “evangelicals” as those who have made a personal commitment to Jesus Christ and have accepted Christ as their Savior, and who affirm seven criteria: They 1) say their faith is very important in their life today, 2) believe they have a personal responsibility to share their faith with non-Christians, 3) believe that Satan exists, 4) believe that eternal salvation is possible only through grace, not works, 5) believe that Jesus Christ lived a sinless life on earth, 6) believe that the Bible is accurate in all that it teaches, and, 7) describe God as the all-knowing, all-powerful, perfect Deity who created the universe and still rules it today.
Michael Foust is associate editor of Baptist Press.