(Article first published as The Faith Community's Preferred Republican Candidates for 2012 on Technorati.)
Presently, there is much speculation as to which Republicans will run for president in the 2012 election. The Barna Group, a private, non-partisan, for-profit organization recently released a report based on a survey conducted February 10 through February 18, 2011, to see how potential Republican candidates resonate among people of faith. The broad classifications of groups within the faith community and who participated included born again Christians, evangelicals (these meet the criteria of a born again Christian, but evangelicals are more conservative and are more involved in religious activity), Catholics, and non-Christians.
According to the study results, among evangelical Christians, the favorites were Huckabee (88% favorable, 11% unfavorable), Palin (79% favorable, 21% unfavorable), Gingrich (57%-37%), Romney (56%-29%), and Ron Paul (51%-26%). All of these potential candidates were clearly favored by evangelicals more so than was President Obama (6% favorable, 94% unfavorable).
In the larger Christian circle, the less conservative group referred to as born again Christians, the favorites were Huckabee (58% favorable, 27% unfavorable), Romney (49% favorable, 33% unfavorable), Palin (53%-45%), Gingrich (43%-47%), and Paul (39%-31%).
According to the study, the Catholics’ views of the potential candidates differed from those of Protestants. For instance, while most Catholics had a positive view of President Obama (54% favorable, 45% unfavorable), most Protestants did not (44% favorable, 55% unfavorable).
Generally, those from the non-Christian faith community liked President Obama. Rating, 61% positive, 38% negative. By contrast, among this faith community, all potential Republican candidates had a higher negative favorability rating than positive.
When survey respondents were asked to choose their preferred Republican nominee from a list of 11 possible candidates, only five of those candidates received at least 4% of the positive responses (Romney, Palin, Huckabee, Paul, and Gingrich, in that order). The largest number of positive responses went to “none of the above.” Much of those came from registered Democrats among the respondents.
According to Barna’s report, if the election were held today, President Obama stands a better than 50-50 chance of being re-elected. Furthermore, in the match-up, Huckabee would be the most difficult Republican candidate for Obama to defeat, and Palin would be the easiest. But according to Mr. Barna, “The most striking feature of those contests, however, is how many people are not firmly in support of either candidate.”
The fact that many voters have not decided on a candidate as yet is understandable, given that we are 20 months away from Election Day. Also, given the current state or our nation, and the growing unrest in the Middle East, the political landscape could be radically different a year from now. But what is certain not to change, relative to recent elections, is that the faith community will play a significant role in electing the next president of the United States.
Copyright ©2011 by Frank King. All rights reserved.