Christians and Mitt Romney
So my money's on Mitt Romney as the Republican candidate. The only major problem he has is that he's a Mormon, and I've seen lots of posts all over the web about Romney's "Mormon problem" and how it's apt to scare away evangelical Christians in the Religious Right.
My two cents: most of the articles seem to be written by people who don't actually know any evangelicals. But I was there (and I was an evangelical) when solidly Religious-Right Arizona elected Evan Meacham, Mormon used-car salesman, for governor back in...was it 1986? If you vaguely remember the news from that time, he turned out to be an utter embarrassment and a PR disaster. Just one example: Once out in public he saw a black child and said, "What a cute little pickaninny!" leading to rueful bumper stickers that said, "Boy, Did We Ever Pick A Ninny!" And this was only one of many highlights, starting with his cancellation of the new Martin Luther King holiday.
But here's the thing: when I went to church at that time, no one actually talked about Meacham's Mormonism; they talked about his politics. And he got traction among evangelicals precisely because evangelicals basically care about two issues: abortion and homosexuality. And as long as Mitt, or any other Mormon, has the same faith-related (i.e., unflagging and unchanging) support for those two issues, Mitt can count on their votes. (At least in a narrow field with no honest evangelicals running.) Do evangelicals think Mormonism is a Satan-inspired cult? You bet. But as long as he votes the right way AND does it for a similar reason (i.e., religion), he's actually a very appealing candidate. Evangelicals will be praying for him to change his religion, and they'll send him a lot of tracts, but they'll love him for his voting record. Expect him to poll better than the professionals expect.
P.S. I only venture into politics about once a week, so let me take this opportunity to thank Eric Berlin. In comments on my last post, about Obama dressing like a terrorist, I challenged him to show me anyone on the right to call out this silliness. Sure enough, a post on the Corner did just that, and I would be remiss if I didn't mention it. So thanks, Eric, for restoring my faith in people all over, and thanks for introducing me to The Corner, which I should have been reading a long time ago. I will add, however, that references to "Barack Hussein Obama" are visible everywhere in the conservative blogosphere except The Corner, and it creeps me out.