What Iowa Caucuses Predict about the GOP Race

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Although the Iowa caucuses are quickly becoming a distant memory, voter patterns from the contest teach a lesson about the battle for the Republican nomination. 

For instance, conservative Christians really do appear to want one of their own as the Republican candidate, and they aren't counting former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in that number.

A new Pew survey shows that among evangelicals, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum captured 32 percent, while Romney got a meager 14 percent.

On the flip side, Romney captured 38 percent of all other voters, while Santorum captured only 14 percent, showing he may not have much appeal outside evangelical ranks.

Pew Research Associate Director Carroll Doherty has been studying the numbers, questioning how Santorum will perform in states that don't have as large a number of Christian voters as Iowa.

"Well, that's the question," he said. "This is a state that sort of played to his strengths. And so can he replicate this?" 

Of most concern to Santorum, with the economy likely to be voters' number one issue nationwide, 33 percent of Iowans in those ranks voted for Romney, while just 19 percent cast ballots for the former Pennsylvania lawmaker.

"That lead on the economy, I think, is very important going forward," Doherty said.

Probably the scariest statistic for Santorum is that among caucus-goers who most care about beating President Obama, 48 percent pick Romney, while just 13 percent voted for Santorum.

"So Romney is beating him convincingly on the electability issue," Doherty said.

Romney's biggest problem appears to be his inability to increase his popularity or numbers with most Republicans.

"He's having problems with conservatives and these haven't gone away," Doherty noted. "What's somewhat the biggest negative is that he really hasn't made any in-roads." 

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Paul  Strand

Paul Strand

CBN News Washington Sr. Correspondent

As senior correspondent in CBN's Washington, D.C., bureau, Paul Strand has covered a variety of political and social issues, with an emphasis on defense, justice, and Congress.  Follow Paul on Twitter @PaulStrandCBN and "like" him at Facebook.com/PaulStrandCBN.