World magazine has continued a series of stories surveying evangelical leaders in the country (Disclosure: I’m one of those surveyed). It’s not a scientific survey per se, but a good snapshot of some of the major voices within evangelicalism in the country (and somehow me). I know a number of the people in the survey and it is really a solid list of some of the names you’d know.
By and large, the survey shows these 91 people (out of 103 asked to participate) like Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz.
Rubio gets the highest score at 37.4%. Cruz is at 19.8%. The other interesting detail is that while Carly Fiorina is only at 18.7%, when asked about second choices, Fiorina is at 21.6%. She certainly impressed people with her debate performance. The survey was conducted after the CNN debate. Religious freedom and abortion are the top two issues evangelical leaders care about, followed by foreign policy and family issues.
The more interesting thing to me is that Rick Santorum, who has made a big play for evangelicals in the past, is at 0% in the survey. Ben Carson is ranked 5th on the list at 3.3% with Huckabee at 2.2%.
The most interesting thing about the survey to me is how the evangelical leadership in the country seems more and more of the same mind as many of the political leaders I talk to — Cruz v. Rubio. In 2012, there was a real division. I was invited several times to private meetings of evangelical leaders in the country where they tried to get consensus on who to support. The rooms were typically badly divided.
That division exists this time, but only between two people, both of whom everyone agrees they could readily support if they are the nomination. That did not happen in 2012 where Santorum was the consensus nominee, but many in the meetings were splitting with Romney, Gingrich, and others. This time around, everyone seems really happy about the potential of either Rubio or Cruz and that actually matters in terms of picking up the post-primary pieces.