Illinois Thoughts

Doubtless John will have something to add in a few hours, and I know I have more to say. For now I’ll just note this, from McKay Coppins of Buzzfeed, who points out that although Romney beat Santorum in Illinois by double digits (47% to 35%), among Evangelical Christians the story was quite different:

According to CNN’s exit polls, Santorum beat Romney handily in that group, 46 percent to 39 percent. And the bad news didn’t stop there: Among the quarter of the Republican electorate who said a candidate’s religious beliefs matter “a great deal,” Santorum crushed Romney by 20 points — 51 percent to 31.

This race is about to pivot away from the GOP primaries to the general election, and we won’t be talking about Rick Santorum or Newt Gingrich much longer. I wonder: will we be talking about Evangelicals much longer?

Some Evangelical thinkers, like Regent University president Carlos Campo, have suggested that Romney needs to explain his religious views to their group in order to win their support. But why? Romney seems to have adopted the attitude that there’s nothing he can say to change the minds of those hard-core Evangelicals who oppose or distrust him because of his faith. (He tried that in 2008; remember?) So it seems Romney has decided to win the nomination in spite of that demographic, rather than with its support; and he’s well on his way to doing just that.

If Romney succeeds as a candidate, how much influence can Evangelicals who were cool to him expect to have in a Romney campaign, or even a Romney presidency? Probably more than they deserve, if the Governor’s past behavior is any guide, and if his Evangelical supporters like Mark Demoss want to be involved. Still, John has been warning for years now that by playing identity politics his fellow Evangelicals will eventually marginalize themselves politically. They may well be in the final stages of doing just that.

John Joins (the next morning)

Lowell has put his finger on the single biggest takeaway from yesterday’s huge Romney winAaron Blake tweeted:

Romney has won all 10 primaries where evangelicals make up less than half vote. And he’s lost all 7 where they have been >50%

Romney appears in Illinois to have overcome all his other demographic issues. And while some will say that it’s not over, realism has to enter the picture some where.  Team Obama knows who they will be facing and the press is all too willing to help them.  Yesterday, a video from sources unknown as launched that was artful if inherently dishonest in its construction.  Taking single words from presentations and piecing together sentences is cute, but talk about putting words into someone’s mouth.  Something like that requires enormous time – which means enormous resources.  The rest of the Republican field does not have those kinds of resources.  Once again, Team Obama knows who they will be facing.

It is most unbecoming for the other Republican candidates to whine and threaten.  Gingrich has declared his intention to “stop Romney.“  It is even worse when Santorum borrows his meme.  And now the Evangelical press is “threatening?!”  David Brody:

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