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How Will Christians Vote in 2012?

Even though the next U.S. presidential election is more than a year away, the race has already started in earnest. The first Republican debate was held in May, and several candidates have already announced their intentions to run.

One of the biggest voting blocs in the country is Christians. Whether or not they identify as evangelical, mainline Protestant (older, more traditional denominations like the Episcopalian or Methodist churches) or Roman Catholic, it’s often Christians who will determine much of the outcome of an election. So it’s important to ask: Who will they vote for?

Chance are the election will be current-President Obama vs. whoever-wins-the-Republican-primary. According to a new Barna Group survey, Christians most favor 2008 presidential candidate Mitt Romney
49%), followed by Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul. (The candidate who Christians most favor— Mike Huckabee—has announced he isn’t run-ning.) Comparatively, only 45% of Protestants have a positive view of President Obama. That may reflect what Christian voters tend to care about, especially evangelical voters. Evangelicals rank abortion, gay marriage, taxes and immigration as much bigger issues than general voters (and much more so than Catholic and general Protestant voters). It may suggest why some Christians continue to align themselves with the moral platform of the Republican party. It remains to be seen how the race will proceed, and it appears it will hinge on who gets the Republican nomination. Though all bets are off if Ralph Nader runs again.

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