2012 Presidential Election

Santorum's Secret Army: Home-Schoolers

Girl working on math homework. Image by Cheryl Casey/Shutterstock.com.

Girl working on math homework. Image by Cheryl Casey/Shutterstock.com.

Strapped for cash and staff, Rick Santorum has enlisted a ragtag but politically potent army to keep his campaign afloat: home-schoolers.

Heading into today's Super Tuesday, Santorum was urging home-schoolers to organize rallies, post favorable features on social media and ring doorbells on his behalf.

"Santorum has been very aggressive in reaching out to the home-schooling community, especially in the last month," said Rebecca Keliher, the CEO and publisher of Home Educating Family Publishing.

Drawing on his experience as a home-schooling father of seven, the former Pennsylvania senator has also sought to rally enthusiasm by pledging to continue that course in the White House.  

"It's a great sacrifice that my wife, Karen, and I have made to try to give what we think is the best possible opportunity for our children to be successful," Santorum said during a March 1 campaign stop in Georgia. "Not just economically, but in a whole lot of other areas that we think are important — virtue and character and spirituality."

Mitt Romney Trouncing Rick Santorum Among Catholics

Rick Santorum greets nuns at a Knights of Columbus rally, Feb. 24. Getty Imagesa

Rick Santorum greets Catholic nuns at a Knights of Columbus rally, Feb. 24. Via Getty Images.

Mitt Romney has trounced Rick Santorum, an ardent Catholic, among Catholic voters, but Romney's support among evangelicals has wavered thus far in the GOP presidential primary, according to a new analysis of exit poll data.

Though he won evangelicals in two states, in general Romney has performed 15 percentage points better among non-evangelicals, according to an analysis released March 2 by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life. 

Exit poll data is available in seven of the 11 states that have held primary contests to date, according to the Pew Forum. More detailed religious affiliations are available in six of those states.

White evangelicals formed more than a third of all GOP primary voters in each state except for Nevada (24 percent) and New Hampshire (21 percent). Romney, a Mormon, won the evangelical vote in those two states, and nearly tied for first in Arizona and Florida. But he lost the evangelical vote badly in three states: Michigan, Iowa and South Carolina.

Somewhat surprisingly, Santorum has not won the Catholic vote in a single state in which data is available, according to the Pew Forum.

Santorum Is Not Romney's Only Problem in Michigan

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Mitt Romney’s position on the Detroit auto bailout and health care plan have been blasted, but a pollster suggests one issue not often discussed on the campaign trail this year could end up costing him Tuesday's Michigan primary victory: his Mormon faith.

EPIC-MRA pollster Bernie Porn said the former Massachusetts governor’s faith hasn’t been as big of a topic as it was when he sought the nomination in 2008.

But Porn said on WGVU’s “West Michigan Week” that his polls show that 7 percent of the Republicans tallied said they wouldn’t vote for Romney because he is a Mormon – and the actual number might be higher.

With a race that could be decided by less than 5 percent, that could be a problem for Romney, he said.

Experts Challenge Santorum’s Remarks Linking College to Faith Loss

Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum's claim that U.S. colleges drive young Christians out of church is facing scrutiny from Protestant and Catholic experts.

Santorum told talk show host Glenn Beck late last week that "62 percent of kids who go into college with a faith commitment leave without it." He also has called President Obama a "snob" for wanting more Americans to attend college.

"There is no statistical difference in the dropout rate among those who attended college and those that did not attend college," said Thom Rainer, president of the Southern Baptists' LifeWay Christian Resources research firm. "Going to college doesn't make you a religious dropout."

A 2007 LifeWay survey did find seven in 10 Protestants ages 18 to 30 who went to church regularly in high school said they quit attending by age 23.

The real causes: lack of "a robust faith," strongly committed parents and an essential church connection, Rainer said.

The Santorum Question: Should Theology Affect the Way We Vote?

American flag and open Bible. Image by Susan Law Cain /Shutterstock.

American flag and open Bible. Image by Susan Law Cain /Shutterstock.

Does theology matter when it comes to evaluating political leaders? How does this whole faith and politics thing work?

Both Barack Obama and Rick Santorum have strong records on supporting legislation and funding  policies that fight global poverty and pandemic diseases. Both men have talked about how their concern for the poor is motivated by their faith.

I feel comfortable with that and I think most people do. It is an example of political figures expressing their personal motivation behind widely held values that aren’t exclusive to a particular religious tradition.

There are some religious beliefs, such as a particular stance on infant baptism, understanding of the Trinity, or belief in what occurs when Christians observe the Lord’s Supper that are significant theological claims. But they aren’t good or appropriate benchmarks by which to evaluate political candidates.

Santorum's Trifecta

It was an eventful night in the GOP primary race last night, with some surprises in the results.

See the best of the reaction to what happened right here:

In The New York Times, Rick Santorum’s trifecta of victories was called “another twist to an unruly nominating contest that has seen Republican voter veering among candidates and refusing to coalesce behind anyone.”

Former Senator Santorum’s victory has been put down to the voting preferences of “evangelicals and Tea Party adherents”, who make up a significant percentage of the electorate in all three states. One pundit noted that when it comes to voting:

“evangelicals, they get out. Cold, wind, rain or snow, they get out.”

New Poll: Mainline Protestants Up for Grabs Heading into November

Image via Church Sign Generator, http://www.signgenerator.org/church/

Image via Church Sign Generator, http://www.signgenerator.org/church/

They may not be as large as Catholics or as active as evangelicals, but white mainline Protestants have a big thing going for them this election cycle: they are divided, and possibly persuadable.

That's according to a new poll released today (2/2/12), which found white mainline Protestants are more evenly split between President Obama and his Republican challengers than other religious groups.

"They're the most important ignored religious group in the country," said Dan Cox, research director at the Public Religion Research Institute, which conducted the poll in partnership with Religion News Service.

In a matchup between Obama and GOP front-runner Mitt Romney, mainline Protestant voters are nearly evenly divided, with 41 percent supporting Obama and 43 percent for Romney. The same holds true between Obama and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich — each is the choice of 41 percent of white mainline Protestants.