Did Romney's Mormonism Doom Him In South Carolina?

Mitt Romney Awkward

Photo: AP

Mitt Romney came in second in South Carolina and it looks as if he’ll get nearly 30 per cent of the vote overall. That’s a higher percentage than he got in Iowa. Was it anti-Mormonism that held him down? 

It did- a little. 

27 per cent of South Carolinians told exit polls that the religious affiliation of the candidate mattered “a great deal to them.  9 per cent of those voters voted for Mitt Romney. 

But among the 33 per cent of voters who said that it mattered “somewhat”, Romney won 27 per cent of them. So there was almost no difference between that group and voters as a whole. 

So, it mattered. But it was clear from other exits that upwardly mobile, high-income voters went for Romney in a big way. He won over 40 per cent of those. 

Lower-income voters, Evangelicals, and late-deciders went for Newt. But Newt Gingrich only won 6 per cent of voters who said the “moral character” of the candidate was the most important factor in their vote. 

And here is the key result: 51 per cent of those who said that “electability” was most important voted for Newt Gingrich. 

The overwhelming factor seems to be that Newt Gingrich had momentum and looked like a more skilled debater in the week leading up to the primary. And, frankly, Mitt Romney looked terrible this week. He looked like he had something to hide in his tax returns, and he withered in the debates. 

Anti-Mormonism was a factor. But class just as important, if not more so.. But clearly the largest was the debates and concerns about electability. 

Political junkies may not think Gingrich is more electable than Romney. But if you judged by the performances you saw this week, it would be hard to disagree with South Carolinians that Gingrich looked like the toughest opponent for Obama. 

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