(Photo: REUTERS/Brian Snyder)
Evangelicals and Catholics are a major political force in the swing state of Iowa, where both President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney are scheduled to hold rallies on the final weekend before Election Day.
Of the roughly 3 million people in Iowa, 30 percent of the registered voters describe themselves as either evangelical or Catholic. Fifty-seven percent of those who cast ballots in the caucuses in this state this year were evangelical, and they overwhelmingly supported Rick Santorum over Romney.
CNN has found that many evangelical voters in Des Moines are supporters of Romney while being a little uneasy about his erstwhile moderate stand on social issues such as abortion.
"His (Romney's) past positions in terms of abortion or in terms of his record in Massachusetts – it's not been an easy choice to make either way," Mwasi Mwamba, an evangelical but unaffiliated voter, was quoted as saying. Dawn, his wife, said she would vote for Romney, but added her religious beliefs don't align with Obama or Romney. "I have to look at it, though I hate saying it this way, as the lesser of two evils, if you will."
"He's (Romney) definitely not a Christian in my view," said Sheri Hess of the GOP candidate's Mormon faith. However, she said she plans to vote for him because he holds Christian beliefs though his record on social issues is a concern. She described herself as having a "biblical worldview."
Mike Pike, an evangelical, said he will not vote for either candidate because abortion and marriage are non-negotiable issues for him and the two have "failed on both of those."
Romney and his team are scheduled to hold a victory rally at Hy-Vee Hall at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines on Sunday morning. And on Monday evening, Romney's running mate Paul Ryan will hold an event in McKinley Ave in Des Moines.
On Monday, Obama and his wife, Michelle, will hold a rally in Des Moines' East Village.
Meanwhile, Catholic Online quoted Dawn Luekin, a Catholic voter in traditionally Democratic Dubuque, as saying that she and her mother are firm in their support of Romney. "[There are] the life issues which most Catholics hold dear and central to their faith, but then there's this belief that remains that the Democratic Party somehow cares for the poor better. I think it somehow comes down to that tension," she said, adding that the most important issues for them are "life and sanctity of marriage."
Romney plans to appear with NASCAR team owner Richard Petty at a rally in Dubuque on Saturday, while Obama is scheduled to campaign later in the day at Dubuque's Washington Park.
According to the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, Obama won 54 percent of the Catholic vote and 26 percent of the evangelical vote, nationwide, in the 2008 election.
Days before the 2012 election, the race remains tight in Iowa.
The latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist College survey put Obama ahead, 50 percent to 44 percent, in Iowa. Obama had a 51 percent to 43 percent advantage two weeks earlier. However, Romney has a one-point lead, according to the latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of likely Iowa voters, which found Romney with 49 percent support against Obama's 48 percent.