2012 GOP Contenders Battle For The Christian Vote

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As the clock ticks down to the beginning the race for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012 one thing has become apparent — Iowa has become the number one stop on the list of potential candidates and it’s large base of evangelical conservative voters has become the prize.

History has shown that the Christian wing of the GOP has been an important group for those seeking a primary victory not only in Iowa, but throughout the country. Recent polling has also shown that the early favorites are the candidates that have garnered much of the support of the evangelicals. Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, who won in Iowa in 2008, leads the polling there again largely backed by his Christian following. Sarah Palin, the 2008 Republican VP candidate, has also polled near the top as of late and also holds a large following of conservatives who identify themselves as evangelicals. Former MA Governor Mitt Romney, although of the Mormon faith, has been at or near the top of almost every poll due in part to voters who see him as a religious candidate.

A few of the lesser known potential candidates have been on the trail giving speeches intended to define their social conservative/religious stances as well. Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty recently spoke at a lecture series in Iowa put on by the socially-conservative group Family Leader and referred to himself as a “devout, but approachable, Christian,” in a speech in which he touted his opposition to abortion rights, same-sex marriage and the recent repeal of the military’s DADT policy.

Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, an avid pro-lifer, has also been traveling frequently to Iowa and is well known for his faith and socially-conservative stances such as opposition to same-sex marriage and pro-family value positions. Santorum recently named a team to head his PAC in Iowa, a signal to some that his announcement is merely a formality.

A recent CNN poll that can be seen in a recent post right here on White House 2012 shows that Mike Huckabee has a small lead over Sarah Palin and Mitt Romney with 21%, 19% and 18% respectively. If Huckabee decides to keep his lucrative media ventures and stay out of the race, the evangelical voters that follow him will be up for grabs. If the CNN poll is anywhere near accurate that could bode well for Palin who should be able to pick up a few of them if she herself decides to give up television and the speech circuit for a presidential bid. If Palin doesn’t run either, with the decision by Mike Pence to sit out already in the bag, the large and powerful Christian wing of the GOP could be up for grabs potentially propelling a lesser known candidate to the forefront in Iowa and the national scene as well.

Time will only tell who is in and who is out but one thing is for certain: The courtship for Iowa’s socially-conservative Christians has begun.

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