CONCORD, N.H. (BP) — Republican presidential frontrunner Mitt Romney won a plurality of support from evangelicals and pro-life voters during the New Hampshire primary Tuesday, edging out Rick Santorum in each category, according to exit polls.
Romney won 31 percent of the vote among those who identify as evangelical or born-again, while Santorum received 23 percent. Evangelicals made up 22 percent of New Hampshire GOP primary voters, a significant drop from the Iowa caucuses when they comprised 57 percent of voters. Santorum won a plurality among Iowa’s evangelicals.
Romney also won 34 percent among New Hampshire GOP voters who consider themselves conservative on “social issues such as abortion,” besting Santorum’s 22 percent. Such voters comprised 38 percent of the total, with moderates/liberals on the issue making up 62 percent of voters.
Romney’s performance in those two categories allowed him to win the state easily with 39 percent of the total vote to Ron Paul’s 23 percent. Santorum — competing in a state without his base of evangelicals and social conservatives — finished fifth at 10 percent.
Santorum did win handily among those who consider abortion the most important issue, but that bloc made up only 6 percent of all GOP voters. Santorum won that bloc with 45 percent, beating Ron Paul (19 percent) and Santorum (16 percent).
The next primary will take place Saturday, Jan. 21, in South Carolina.
Compiled by Michael Foust, associate editor of Baptist Press.