In an analysis of entrance polling done for the news organization, ABC’s pollster wrote that their numbers essentially proved the conventional wisdom about how the Republican candidates are viewed within the party faithful. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, despite winning the Iowa caucuses by eight votes, has a problem with the conservative voters, who jumped to former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum ® in the final days of campaigning in the state.
While scoring heavily among caucus-goers most concerned with electability, Romney failed to improve on his 2008 showing in Iowa, did poorly with very conservative and evangelical voters, and flagged among those focused on the “true conservative” or the candidate with the strongest “moral character.” He won Republican pragmatists, but not conservative true believers. Rick Santorum took advantage of Romney’s weak spots, winning evangelical and very conservative voters, and those focused on moral character, as well as late-deciders. One question is how well Santorum plays in states with fewer evangelicals participating; they accounted for a broad 58 percent in Iowa. Another is how well he withstands the new found scrutiny his showing is sure to bring.