CNN is touting exit polls that said South Carolina voters who cared about a candidate’s religious beliefs overwhelmingly rejected Mitt Romney. They are speculating that this might mean that evangelicals turned down the former Massachusetts governor because of his Mormon faith. Given the polls that have backed up the idea of the prevalence of such prejudice, this isn’t a completely unreasonable conclusion.
However, it must be pointed out that such voters are also most likely to dislike Romney for other reasons. Romney’s reputation as a flip-flopper on social issues is a much bigger problem for him among conservative Christians than Mormonism. We’ve heard much less talk about Romney’s faith this year than we did four years when this appeared to be a major issue, especially in South Carolina.
What this defeat points out for Romney is his inability to generate support from conservative grass roots. That’s a much bigger issue than his religion.