Perry Quits GOP Race: Is the Evangelical Vote Dead?

Posted on January 19, 2012


Rick Perry, maybe the most fun candidate to make fun of other than the too homophobic to not be gay Santorum, has dropped out of the GOP presidential candidate race. Although he never really got into a campaign groove and made more serious missteps than Gingrich has had wives, it looks as if Ron Paul’s claim yesterday that the GOP campaign is a “two man race” between him and Mitt Romney is true, despite Gingrich likely finishing ahead of Paul in the S.C. primary. So, does this mean the end of the evangelical race as we know it?

And with Perry’s flight, the evangelical crowd is looking weaker than it ever has before. Bachmann and Perry are two of the three true Jesus freaks in the field (Santorum being the other). With Santorum and Gingrich, the evangelical crowd is only left with two Catholics – one a homophobe ex-senator who couldn’t win re-election and the other, a guy whose adulterous sex life makes Clinton’s look celibate, despite Gingrich spear-heading the impeachment process against Bill for getting a blowjob.

Perry is endorsing Gingrich on his way out of the race, but that can’t mean much as the Texas governor never had much support to begin with – and definitely not enough that his endorsement will make Perry-mad supporters (if there are any) to go to the polls and vote or the guy their candidate told them to.

Gingrich and Santorum really want t be the anti-Romney by pushing the family values and maybe a “real” American image ever since it was revealed that Romney is so rich that he doesn’t have to pay taxes, but the reality of it is that they are seeking the blessing of the Establishment even as they fight against it. They want to prove to the GOP powers that be that they can beat Obama in the general election.

Gingrich has basically said as much, telling the Huffington Post, “If I don’t win the primary Saturday, we will probably nominate a moderate,” referring to Mitt Romney. “And the odds are fairly high he will lose to Obama.”

However, Gingrich also told CBS that if unless Romney wins 40-45% of the S.C. primary vote, it will still be a “serious race.”

In other words, if he and Santorum get a sizable amount of votes, Gingrich believes there is still a demand for an evangelical candidate. Maybe so, but two things I see wrong with this:

1) Paul has done extremely well in both Iowa and New Hampshire, and is projected to finish respectably in S.C., meaning there is a strong non-evangelical motivation in the GOP race.

2) After Florida, which Paul has said he won’t be campaigning in (likely because of his stance on Israel), there will be primaries in several states that might find the libertarian-leaning Paul to be the better candidate, such as Nevada, Colorado, and possibly Maine. A strong showing and there could further indicate the desire for a non-evangelical candidate and could change the story arc going into Super Tuesday on Mar. .

Furthermore, Paul has said he is in it not necessarily to win it, but to get delegates and spread his message. From MSNBC:

The Texas Congressman was asked if Romney wins the (South Carolina) primary, would he continue to challenge the former Massachusetts governor or be pressured to coalesce behind him.

“Of course, he’s not going to win the nomination on Saturday,” Paul said with a laugh. “Why should everybody walk away if he wins this primary? You have to wait and see where all the delegates are. An election is to get the maximum number of delegates, so I will continue to do it. To think a debate is non-productive? To me, capitulation and going along and being pressured by the establishment leadership and just say, ‘Hey, we don’t want any debate. We don’t want to be rocking the boat and cutting a trillion dollars out of the budget.’ We don’t want to hear that. Well, I might just continue to talk about cutting a trillion dollars out of the budget. I think that’s legitimate, I think I have a responsibility.

With a rabid support base and a sizable amount of funds, Paul could be around for a while. The question is if he will ever attack Romney, something he has been accused of not doing much of in the past. But either way, if this race becomes Romney vs. Paul, it could mean that the evangelical vote just doesn’t matter – a sign of maturation in the Republican party.