Santorum Fails to Turnout His Voters, Loses Wisconsin 

By Lucas Grindley

Originally published on Advocate.com April 03 2012 9:51 PM ET

With too few evangelicals going to the polls, Rick Santorum lost Wisconsin and with it may have also dashed his long-shot hopes of winning the Republican nomination.

The networks called the state for Mitt Romney shortly after polls closed. Romney also had wins in Maryland and the District of Columbia.

For Santorum to score an upset in Wisconsin, where polls had showed him lagging 7 points behind, he needed to turnout born-again and evangelical Christians who have buoyed his candidacy with wins in Iowa, Colorado, Minnesota, Missouri, Oklahoma, Tennessee, North Dakota, Mississippi, Alabama, Kansas and Louisiana. Romney had lost any state where exit polls found that evangelicals were a majority of voters.

CNN exit polls from 2008 in Wisconsin showed that 38% of Republican primary voters were evangelical. That wouldn't be enough for a Santorum win, but states like Mississippi had shown increases in the percent of evangelicals, which might have been reason for the Santorum campaign to hope its strategy of wooing rural voters could make a difference.

Exit polls showed little change in the percentage of voters who identified as evangelical, with the New York Timesreporting that 36% claimed the affiliation. Polls conducted before the election had assumed 41% of voters would be evangelical.

With the loss of delegate-rich Wisconsin, pundits were quick to recite the mathematical reasons that Santorum's chances of winning the nomination have become further remote. But Santorum said during a string of Sunday talk show appearances that Wisconsin was not "do or die" and that he will stay in the race. He's looking to a string of states in May that should be better demographical fits. And he spoke from Pennsylvania, his home state with an upcoming primary at the end of April, instead of from Wisconsin on Tuesday night.