Last August, we were in Iowa for the Republican Presidential straw poll and reported on the "values voters"--a growing force of social conservatives who have become a significant part of the Republican Party in Iowa. One of the politically active pastors we met was Michael Demastus, of the Fort Des Moines Church of Christ.
At the time, Demastus was not committed to any candidate, but he told us his two key issues: Abortion and marriage. Many candidates came through is church this past year, talking about their pro-life positions and their support of traditional marriage. Demastus says, he looks beyond their rhetoric and examines their record over time.
On the eve of the caucus, we re-connected with Demastus to see where he landed on the Republican presidential candidates.
Rick Santorum: He's surging in the late polls, and Demastus says, he could support Santorum. But he's hesitant because of Santorum's previous endorsement of Sen. Arlen Specter, a moderate Republican. "These are pro-choice individuals that he got behind, and it make syou wonder why did he do that," Demastus says.
Newt Gingrich: Demastus says some of his fellow pastors are supporting Gingrich. "They see it as, this isn't the guy I want to date my daughter, but it's the Clint Eastwood effect, I just want this gunslinger to come in and clean up the town," Demastus says. Gingrich is down in the latest polls, but Demastus says, he could see himself supporting Gingrich.
Ron Paul: "He's a person who's OK with 50 different definitions of marriage because he would leave that issue in the hands of the states," Demastus says. "I just can't get behind a person like that." Still, Paul has strong support in Iowa.
Mitt Romney: Romney's previous pro-choice stand is a hurdle some evangelicals cannot look past. Says Demastus, "It would be really hard for me to even hold my nose and vote for somebody like him."
Michele Bachmann: "For me, it's not necessarily about who wins at the ballot box, I vote based upon principle," Demastus says. He plans to support Bachmann at the caucus, despite expectations that she won't make a good showing.
On Tuesday night, watch for how the social conservatives in Iowa vote. Santorum is rising, but if evangelical voters split too much, they may actually benefit candidates like Romney and Paul.