Who do social conservatives want in 2012?

Charlie Neibergall AP Republican presidential candidates Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, and Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn. during their Republican debate, Saturday, … Continued

Charlie Neibergall

AP

Republican presidential candidates Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, and Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn. during their Republican debate, Saturday, Dec. 10, 2011, in Des Moines, Iowa.

First it was Bachmann, then it was Cain, then Perry, then Cain again, and now Newt Gingrich has surged in the GOP primary field. Mitt Romney is the only candidate who has had poll-stability. In the beginning of the cycle, Romney was the nominal “front-runner” and his biggest slip has been from first to second place following the Newt-surge.

We know that social conservatives, who make up a large plurality of the GOP, have fueled each of these candidates’ surges to the top. But, why haven’t social conservatives found their candidate?

While there may not be one simple answer to this perplexing question, it is clear that social conservatives like aspects of each of the major candidates, but they have reservations about each as well.

Many social conservatives love where Bachmann is on the issues. She is pro-life, pro-marriage, and has vowed to repeal Obamacare. However, she has struggled to maintain widespread support because questions loom about whether she is prepared for the presidency and to take on President Obama. I still believe most of these “questions loom” because the media, and many Republicans, have been too tough on Bachmann even though she has delivered strong debate performances and won the Iowa straw poll. She is a top candidate to watch if caucus-goers in Iowa are looking for an alternative to Romney and Gingrich.

Rick Perry ignited a passion among conservatives when he first entered the race. He agreed with social conservatives on most issues, he was a longtime governor of a conservative state, and he was firmly committed to his faith and not afraid to express it. However, after a series of poor debate performances – both in substance, as he made controversial statements about immigration, and delivery, as he struggled to articulate his message – conservatives grew concerned as to whether he was ready to go up against Obama. Like Bachmann, he could still be an option for Iowa voters.

Initially, Herman Cain - and the 9-9-9 plan – was seen as a breath of fresh air, an outsider who could change the way Washington worked. Yet, conservatives began to question the workability of Cain’s tax plan, and the flood of sexual harassment allegations and then accusations about an extramarital affair eventually drowned out his message resulting in the suspension of his campaign.

Newt Gingrich is a skilled debater and a policy wonk, which many conservatives are taking a hard look at. However, he too has issues. Can conservatives trust him? His multiple marriages and divorces don’t sit well with social conservatives, and his rise and fall as speaker of the House provide ample fodder for his opponents.

Mitt Romney has not experienced the same surge other candidates have had in the national polls, but he has continued to be in the top tier and lead every poll in New Hampshire. Conservatives consider him an acceptable candidate in the general election, but continue their search for alternatives in the primary for a couple of reasons. First, Romney has yet to shed the “flip-flop” label among some conservative activists. Second, and though not discussed as openly among conservatives, are all of the reservation some Americans, not just evangelicals, have about Romney’s Mormon faith. If Governor Romney wins New Hampshire, regardless of the outcome in Iowa, he is the candidate best suited for a drawn-out primary battle and I suspect more conservatives will be drawn to publicly supporting his campaign.

In the end, conservatives want one thing: to beat President Obama and install a social conservative in the White House. The process of selecting a candidate can be long and painstaking. It is important to remember that Iowa isn’t the end; it is the beginning.

Republican voters may not settle on one candidate until long after the South Carolina primary.

With all that is at stake in our nation, it is well worth the time and effort it takes to find the right conservative candidate.

About

Jordan Sekulow and Matthew Clark Jordan Sekulow is executive director of the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ). Matthew Clark is an attorney at the ACLJ. Follow them on Twitter: @JordanSekulow and @_MatthewClark.
  • WmarkW

    Did it take more than ten minutes to cobble together this obvious, insight-less summary of the Republican nomination campaign to date?

  • kc0itf

    No mention of RON PAUL!? Oh yeah, he won’t sign over our Treasury to Israel to bring forth the Second Coming…

    RON PAUL 2012 OR BUST!!!

  • cherer

    Gingrich is a loser. While Speaker of the House his own party diciplined him with 84 ethic charges, the first time in history a Speaker was disiplined for ethical wrongdoing.His own party pressured him to resign. as Speaker. He cheated on his wives, and has been married 3 times. In fact was involved in going after Clinton for his affair, and was himself having one. What about his involvement with Freddir Mac?? Please tell me that if this is the best Republicans want running our country, I may have to change parties!!

  • JimTrott

    Jordan,
    None of the GOP (greedy one percent) candidates have a chance against Barak Hussein Obama. Maybe it’s time for a miracle—maybe it’s time for Jay Sekulow to throw his halo into the ring. Nothing could go wrong there!

  • persiflage

    As he turns 77, I predict this will be Ron Paul’s last hurrah – a zealous states rights, anti-abortion republican from a one horse town in Texas. I really can’t figure out this guy’s appeal at all…….

    I mean, he may not be your grandfather, but he’s someone’s granddad – and a zany one at that. The Whitehouse has never had an 80 year old occupant in the Oval Office and that’s not going to change any time soon. Reagan was bad enough…………

  • SODDI

    Who cares what those cavemen want?

  • cma61

    At the time that the abortion issue arose as part of welfare reform, at least one of the Republicans Gingrich supported and campaigned for did accept partial birth abortion. Gingrich was aware of this at the time.
    Bachmann was substantively correct on her charge. Gingrich’s reference to his voting record was irrelevant to MB specific, concrete charge, which was accurate. She did not refer to his “voting record.”
    MB has has had the courage and determination to catch out Newt on several substantive lies, especially about lobbying for Freddie Mac. Although Newt was not a registered lobbyist, he did lobby for Freddie Mac. I do not trust him to tell the truth. I do trust MB, the little lady with a spine of titanium.

  • WonderfulWorld

    I have no interest in voting for a ‘saint’.

  • WonderfulWorld

    Go ahead — switch to Independent. ‘Cause what you’ve seen so far *is* the best the GOP have to offer.

  • nkri401

    Mr. Sekulow claims “We know that social conservatives, who make up a large plurality of the GOP…”

    I could be wrong but I thought each of these geniuses poll numbers moved up to about 30% at each peak.
    So I’ll say only 30% of the GOP are true “social conservatives” – hardly a plurality never mind “large…”.

    Nationally, registered Republican are said to be about 33% (even 1/3) makes math easier.
    So nationally, Social Conservatives are 30% of the 1/3; so about 10% of the US can be considered “Socially Conservative”.

  • nkri401

    I meant to add the fact that –

    “This number is even less than the alleged Atheist in US…”

  • nkri401

    Also,

    Please excuse my manners…

    Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and Safe&Happy Holidays, all!!

    The best gift I got, which I get every year is that from now on the daylight gets longer…

    Wish you all got what you really wanted!

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