The Corner

Mental Bloc

A lot of coverage of the presidential race — even otherwise good and informative coverage — is proceeding on the assumption that things are going to be very different this time because Evangelicals in Iowa are split among several candidates. At Bloomberg, I argue that this is not actually new:

Republican candidates have won in Iowa by appealing to [evangelical caucus-goers] disproportionately, not by winning overwhelming majorities among them. The winning candidates didn’t even get majorities among evangelicals in the last two contests.

In 2012, evangelicals were so split that former Senator Rick Santorum won a plurality of them in the Iowa caucuses with only 32 percent of their vote. Non-evangelicals, a minority among Republican caucus-goers, were actually slightly more bloc-like, giving former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney 38 percent of their vote.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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