Those dastardly evangelicals!

huckabee 01One of the many reasons why I am not the world's best reporter is that I like to ruminate on events for a while before I write about them. In a 24-hour news business, this is not the best trait. I have been reading quite a few stories and columns on the twin Iowa victories by religious populists and am just beginning to formulate thoughts about the journalistic response. I believe one of my GetReligion colleagues will be posting on religious coverage of Obama -- or the lack thereof. But the religious themes are all over the Huckabee coverage. The famous Ted Olsen at Christianity Today has an excellent round up that I'm just going to excerpt here:

The analysis you've probably read this morning or heard last night was that Mike Huckabee won the Republican caucuses in Iowa because of evangelicals. The WashingtonPost.com headline right now: "Evangelicals Fuel Huckabee in Caucuses." You probably also heard a lot of references to Pat Robertson's second-place Iowa win in 1988.

"Evangelical Republicans in Iowa chose one of their own in Mike Huckabee," writes Liz Sidoti of the Associated Press. "He made his religious beliefs and his rock-solid opposition to abortion, gay marriage and gun control central parts of his campaign -- and it paid off."

The Wall Street Journal's Gerald Seib agrees. "So much for the idea that evangelical Christians are a dispirited and declining force in the Republican party," he writes. "Last night they showed up in force -- in stunning force, actually. ... In a very real sense, evangelical voters, as much as Mr. Huckabee, won Iowa's caucuses on the Republican side."

Andrew Sullivan is fairly predictable, with the headline, "The Christianists Triumph."

ABC News explains the headlines: "Evangelical Christians accounted for a remarkable six in 10 GOP caucus-goers, and they favored Huckabee, a Baptist minister, over Mitt Romney, who's Mormon, by a broad 46-19 percent. Among the remaining, non-evangelical Republican voters, by contrast, only about one in seven supported Huckabee, and Romney won easily, with 33 percent."

But 46 percent of the evangelical Republican vote means that most evangelicals did not vote for Huckabee, notes Frank Lockwood of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

The "Blame Evangelicals" meme is one that dies hard. Remember the anger after the 2004 election -- even though there was no indication that values voters were that much stronger than in previous years?

Anyway, to Olsen's excellent summary (there's more than what I excerpted, I would encourage a look at David Sanders' Wall Street Journal piece arguing that Huckabee is more religious left than religious right:

As governor, he championed the ARKids First, which extended free health insurance not only to children of the working poor but to some lower middle-class families. He pleased teachers unions with his consistent opposition to school choice and voucher programs. He satisfied labor by signing into law a minimum-wage hike of 21%. "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me"--Mr. Huckabee's oft-cited scriptural justification for growing government--proved costly for Arkansans, who saw government spending double and their taxes rise about a half-billion dollars during his tenure.

Peggy Noonan also has some interesting perspective.

As many of you have already done, please share with us your favorite -- or least favorite -- stories analyzing the Iowa results.

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