With 24 hours to go until the Republican primary in South Carolina, a public relations exercise cunningly disguised as a spat between one of the candidates and a global religious leader continues to rumble, the only certainty being that it’s not clear what, if any, long-term impact it might have on the race.
While the state is only 7 per cent Catholic and Trump at last count had a sizable lead in most recent polls, the Christian Science Monitor reports:
“.. (T)here could be a downstream effect to this that could come back to haunt [Trump],” says David Woodard, a political scientist at Clemson University in Clemson, S.C.
Even people who aren’t Catholic “have a lot of reverence for the pope and the church and what he stands for,” says Professor Woodard, who is also a GOP consultant and neutral in the presidential race. “I don’t think they’d want him picked on by a politician.”
As for the broader implications of religion – evangelical and otherwise – on the immediate GOP primary race, Sarah Posner writes in The Week on the differences between Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio.
South Carolina is notorious for splitting its significant evangelical vote in the Republican primary. In 2008, that split benefited the least evangelical candidate, John McCain. In 2012, when white evangelicals made up 65 percent of the Republican electorate, Newt Gingrich won the primary with 44 percent of the evangelical vote, and Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum were behind with an even split — 22 and 21 percent, respectively.
In the most recent South Carolina poll from Monmouth University ahead of Saturday’s primary, Trump is leading the field in white evangelical support with 33 percent. Cruz (21 percent) and Rubio (18 percent) are splitting 39 percent of the white evangelical vote. Jeb Bush, Ben Carson, and John Kasich are evenly splitting the remaining 24 percent.
In the short-term, though, the Trump row seems to be only pushing that already open Overton Window even wider.
and of course, the resulting airtime proves the adage that the only bad publicity is no publicity.
It’s – another – decision day for David Cameron on Europe.
But, despite appearances, the world might be going to crap but everything’s not totally screwed.