Churchgoers More Likely to Vote For Santorum, Poll Finds

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  • Rick Santorum
    (Photo: Reuters/Tami Chappell)
    U.S. Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum speaks at Peachtree-Dekalb Airport at campaign rally in Atlanta, Georgia, March 1, 2012.
By Stoyan Zaimov, Christian Post Reporter
March 5, 2012|11:32 am

As the Republican race for a presidential nominee approaches Super Tuesday, where no less than ten states will hold contests, a Tennessee university poll has revealed that people who attend church regularly are more likely to vote for Rick Santorum.

The MTSU Poll, conducted by the Middle Tennessee State University, took a look at voting preferences among Tennessee churchgoers and found that those who attend church every week favor Rick Santorum to Mitt Romney by nearly six to one. According to Ken Blake, associate professor of journalism and director of the MTSU Poll, the church-going group make up around one-third of all Republicans in the state.

Around 64 percent of the people who responded to the study said they attend worship services "almost every week" or less often, while 36 percent said they attend every week. Among those who attend almost every week or less often, 32 percent favor Santorum compared to a statistically equal 22 percent who favor Romney, a breakdown of the poll results revealed. As a comparison, 61 percent of those who attend church every week prefer Santorum, 11 percent favor Romney, and the rest favor someone else or gave no answer.

"The reasons they like (Santorum) probably have to do with their faith, and that's not going to change by Super Tuesday," Blake shared with DNJ.com. "Certainly in Tennessee, if you're going to understand elections, you have to measure religion," he added. The director of the MTSU Poll offered that it was Romney's Mormon faith that discouraged some conservatives from placing their trust in him.

Santorum has often been regarded as the most conservative of the remaining candidates, and so these results are perhaps not too surprising. Romney, however, the other frontrunner in the GOP race, has had to deal with frequent questions and accusations about how much of a Christian he is due to his Mormon faith, which some consider to be too different from mainstream Christianity.

The poll was conducted Feb. 13-25, which was before Romney won both the Michigan and Arizona primaries, putting him back in the frontrunner's seat.

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"Santorum talks on social issues about the same as Protestant evangelists, who are more likely to support Santorum over Romney," said Ben Witherington III, professor of New Testament at Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Ky., in a statement to Knoxnews.com.

"They just know it's not their church. With that sort of uneducated approach to Mormonism, it's hard to know how much they care about it," Witherington added about voters' mistrust of Romney's religion.

A recent poll by the Pew Forum revealed that Mormons themselves still do not feel they are being accepted by the larger American society, with 62 percent of Mormon respondents saying that Americans know little or nothing about Mormonism.

 

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