Exit polls: Evangelicals less of a factor in Maryland, Wisconsin

Evangelical voters who have carried Rick Santorum to victory in key Midwestern and Southern contests were less of a force in primaries in Wisconsin and Maryland Tuesday, a reality reflected in the early returns that favor Mitt Romney.

In tonight’s key vote in Wisconsin, only 37% of voters identified themselves as white evangelical or born-again Christian, and the group only narrowly favored the former Pennsylvania senator, exit polls show.

In Maryland, Romney actually scored a narrow win among evangelicals, who represented a similar share of the vote.


Santorum did win among voters in Wisconsin who said that a candidate’s religious beliefs mattered a great deal. He also won among voters who preferred a candidate who was a “true conservative” or was of “strong moral character.”

A plurality of Badger State voters, 36%, wanted a candidate who they thought would defeat President Obama, and Romney won that group with 70% of the vote.

In Maryland, Romney was boosted by an electorate that was wealthier than any other state that has voted in the Republican race thus far, according to The Associated Press. Just under half of GOP voters had family incomes of $100,000 or greater. In Wisconsin, only 1 in 4 voters had incomes at that level.

Among the few groups Santorum won in Maryland among voters aged 44 and younger: Those who said abortion was the most important issue and voters who said the top quality in a candidate was being a true conservative, or one with strong moral character.

The results are troubling for Santorum ahead of the next round of primaries in three weeks in Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania and Delaware, more states where again evangelicals are likely to be a smaller slice of the electorate.

There was no exit poll conducted in the District of Columbia, where Republicans represent a small fraction of the jurisdiction’s electorate.

Original source: Exit polls: Evangelicals less of a factor in Maryland, Wisconsin