Theology may, as AP’s Rachel Zoll writes, be a hot issue on the campaign trail, but so far it doesn’t seem to be making too much difference for GOP primary voters. Credit where credit is due: Quinnipiac is asking the religious identity question this cycle, and its latest poll suggests that the religion of the candidate is of only minor significance.
Thus, evangelicals don’t prefer the three prominent evangelical candidates–Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann, and Sarah Palin–by a much higher percentage than Catholics do (Perry 29-24; Bachmann, 12-11; Palin, 11-10). And Mitt Romney, who evangelicals shunned like the plague last time around, is preferred by 14 percent of them, as opposed to 18 percent of Catholics. Indeed, in a match-up with President Obama, Romney comes in first among evangelicals at 71-16, doing marginally better than Perry (69-16) and Bachmann (68-17), and significantly better than Palin (63-21). Overall, Romney’s favorable-unfavorable rating among evangelicals, 43-18, is roughly comparable to Perry’s 35-8, Bachmann’s 44-16, and Palin’s 54-30.
The only significant faith-based divergence signaled by Q is that Catholics like Romney a lot more than they do either Bachmann or Palin, and haven’t yet heard enough about Perry to have formed much of an opinion. But a lot of those Catholics (as opposed to evangelicals) are Democrats. Within the GOP fold, the Q-news seems to be that evangelicals have pretty much gotten over their anxiety about “Mitt Romney, Mormon.”