|Religion an important factor in Ill. Republican primary|
|Written by Drew Zimmerman, Daily Vidette Senior Staff|
|Sunday, 25 March 2012 14:51|
Religious affiliation and worship attendance among voters were some of the factors that affected Mitt Romney’s victory in the Illinois Republican primary.
Exit polls show that Romney was unable to draw considerable support from white born-again/evangelical voters while Rick Santorum, who is a Catholic himself, has yet to earn a victory amongst Catholic voters, according to the Pew Forum.
White evangelicals comprised 42 percent of Illinois primary voters, and Santorum received 46 percent of this vote while Romney received 39 percent, the forum stated.
Amongst non-evangelicals, Romney was the clear winner with 54 percent of the vote compared to Santorum’s 26 percent. Roughly one-third of voters who were Catholic.
“Although Santorum did win the evangelical vote in areas outside of Chicago, he didn’t do as well in the Catholic vote because Catholics in Chicago tend to be more moderate in their worship,” Tobin Grant, political science professor at Southern Illinois University, said.
A decisive victory among Catholic voters for Romney, 53 percent to Santorum’s 30 percent, could suggest that voters are more likely to support him based on his business background or the belief that he is the strongest candidate, according to Alan Cooperman, associate director of research for the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, the forum stated.
In addition, there may be non-religious factors that affect the evangelical vote.
“We know from our past polling that evangelicals tend to be conservatives, particularly on social issues. It could be, for example, that evangelicals see Santorum as more reliably conservative than Romney on some issues that matter to them, such as abortion, same-sex marriage, and health care,” Cooperman said.
For voters who attended a religious service on a weekly basis, there was a split between 44 percent for Romney and 39 percent for Santorum.
In comparison, Romney won among voters who said they only attend service occasionally, winning 54 percent of the vote to Santorum’s 26 percent, according to the forum.
Another big win for Romney was among voters who feel that it is important for candidates to share their religious beliefs.
Santorum secured 51 percent of voters who felt that this mattered a great deal, which accounted for 23 percent of the voters.
The forum also stated Romney received 59 percent of the vote among people who felt it made little to no difference, which accounted for about 22 percent of voters. For those who said it somewhat mattered, 46 percent supported Romney and 37 percent supported Santorum.
“It appears that in Illinois, GOP primary voters who care greatly whether a candidate shares their religious beliefs tended, in general, to support Santorum, while those who do not care so much whether a candidate shares their religious beliefs tended, in general, to support Romney,” Cooperman said.
According to Cooperman, these statistics have been a continuation in a pattern that has been noticed throughout other states.
Cooperman also said it would be a mistake to assume that religion was the sole purpose behind any of the primary results.
Romney won the Illinois Republican primary with 46.7 percent of the votes while Santorum finished with 35 percent, according to the forum.