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Santorum Leading Romney With Evangelicals, Catholics

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  • Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney
    (Photo: REUTERS/Scott Audette)
    Republican presidential candidate former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) speaks as former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney (R) listens during the Republican presidential candidates debate in Tampa, Florida, January 23, 2012.
  • Santorum
    (Photo: REUTERS/Robert Galbraith)
    U.S. Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum departs a campaign appearance in Fallon, Nevada in this February 2, 2012, file photo. Whether it's rolled-up sleeves, or a checked shirt with no tie, candidates vying for the White House in November balance their fashion to appeal to average Americans and yet still look like a world leader, said experts at New York Fashion Week. Picture taken February 2, 2012.
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By Napp Nazworth, Christian Post Reporter
February 16, 2012|11:57 am

Presidential candidate Rick Santorum is besting rival Mitt Romney among evangelicals and Catholics, while Romney is preferred by mainline Protestants, according to a new Pew Research Center poll.

The Feb. 8-12 poll, which looked at non-Latino white Republicans and Republican-leaning registered voters, shows Santorum with the support of 41 percent of evangelical Protestants and 37 percent of Catholics, while Romney is supported by 23 percent of evangelical Protestants and 27 percent of Catholics. Among mainline Protestants, on the other hand, Romney has 30 percent support to Santorum's 24 percent support.

Santorum's support among evangelicals and Catholics has risen dramatically since mid-January when only 22 percent of evangelicals and only 12 percent of Catholics said they would vote for him.

Romney, meanwhile, has seen a drop in support, especially among Catholics. In November 2011, 57 percent of Catholics said Romney was "a strong conservative" and 50 percent said he "takes consistent positions on issues." In the recent poll, only 32 percent of Catholics said he was "a strong conservative" and 35 percent said he "takes consistent positions on issues," a drop of 25 and 15 percentage points, respectively.

The proportion of mainline Protestants who think Romney is a strong conservative has, on the other hand, increased slightly, from 44 percent in November 2011 to 51 percent in February 2012.

Santorum is Catholic and Romney belongs to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Texas Congressman Ron Paul is the only evangelical Protestant remaining in the race, but his support among evangelicals is only six percent.

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Newt Gingrich was baptized in a Southern Baptist church, but is now Catholic. His support among evangelicals is about the same as Romney's, 20 percent. He comes in third among Catholics at 18 percent.

Gingrich, Romney and Santorum would all perform about the same in potential match-ups against President Obama. Obama would beat each of those candidates with 57, 52 and 53 percent of the vote, respectively, if the election were held at the time of the survey. All three candidates would win about 70 to 76 percent of the white evangelical vote as well.

The white Catholic vote would go to Romney (52 percent) or Santorum (55 percent) if either of those candidates were the nominee. If Gingrich were the nominee, though, Obama would win the white Catholic vote (52-44 percent).

The full sample had 1,501 adults. The sample of 552 non-Latino white Republicans and Republican-leaning registered voters included 184 evangelical Protestants, 110 mainline Protestants and 111 Catholics. The margin of error for the full sample is three percentage points. The margin of error for the sample of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents is five percentage points.

Contact: napp.nazworth@christianpost.com
 

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