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UW Election Eye 2012

Campaign 2012 through the eyes of UW faculty and students

Topic: Christian Coalition

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January 22, 2012 at 12:58 PM

The "evangelical vote" diverse, but united on social issues

Evangelical literature at the Personhood USA forum in Greenville, SC, last week, where candidates gathered to establish their credentials on conservative social issues (Alex Stonehill/UW Election Eye)

COLUMBIA — Newt Gingrich’s dramatic come-from-behind victory in South Carolina last night was driven by a lot of factors. But one of the most important was the “evangelical vote,” which went for Gingrich two-for-one over Mitt Romney.

Evangelicals are a still a potent political force in American politics, if Saturday’s primary was any indication. They compose some 65 percent of the electorate in South Carolina, and they seemed to have rallied behind Gingrich following Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s endorsement of him on Thursday.

But just who are this oft-cited chunk of South Carolinians who self-identify as evangelicals?

They’re people like Matthew Saxon, 27, a first-year M.Div. student at Columbia International University, a conservative ecumenical seminary based in Columbia. He attends Shandon Baptist Church, also in Columbia, where he teaches Sunday school.

Saxon’s a general manager at a branch of a local Southwestern-themed-fast-food chain, Moe’s, located near the University of South Carolina’s campus near downtown. He’s married and has two young kids.

And he’s frustrated.

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Comments | Topics: Christian Coalition, Christian evangelicals, conservatives