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Despite a strong showing of evangelical support for Republican presidential hopeful Rudolph Giuliani, evangelical leaders predict that the former New York mayor's liberal social views and rocky personal life will cost him a major part of the gop's conservative base.

"I think a lot of evangelicals are just getting to know Rudy," said Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission.

"As they get to know him—not as the hero of 9/11 but as a supporter of tax-funded abortions—his support will decline precipitously."

Yet even as Land and other prominent conservatives—including Tony Perkins, Jerry Falwell, and Pat Buchanan—have taken aim at the current gop frontrunner, a plurality of evangelicals continue to favor him in polls. In a March survey, 27 percent of self-identified evangelical Republican and Republican-leaning registered voters said they favored Giuliani among the likely and announced gop presidential contenders. Senator John McCain followed in second place with 23 percent in the polling, conducted by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press and analyzed by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.

Republican candidates can scarcely afford to alienate evangelicals. According to Pew, white evangelical conservatives compose 31 percent of Republican voters in Iowa, an early caucus state. They compose 39 percent of Republicans in South Carolina, which also votes early, but only 10 percent in New Hampshire, the first state to hold a primary.

John Green, the Pew Forum's senior fellow in religion and American politics, said he believes issues like abortion and opposition to same-sex marriage "are fading a little bit" as many states have banned ...

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In the Magazine

June 2007

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