Where’s religion in the GOP race?

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Now that religion has been put back on the table as a potential wedge issue in the Republican presidential sweepstakes, you’d think that the pollsters would take note. But no. In the latest national polls from Ipsos, PPP, and NBC/WSJ, there’s nary a cross-tab indicating the preferences of likely GOP primary voters by religious affiliation. That’s even the case with PPP’s latest look at Iowa, where evangelicals constitute nearly half of all Republican caucus-goers.

Like generals fighting the last war, the pollsters fixated on the Tea Party in 2010 and, despite its fading significance, can’t turn their eyes elsewhere. So we don’t know whether or not it’s white evangelicals who are driving Herman Cain to the top of the charts, even as the GOP establishment plumps for Mitt Romney. If they are, that would be an interesting commentary on the success of contemporary evangelicalism in overcoming its racist past. But until someone starts asking the standard religious identification questions and cross-tabulating them, we won’t know.