Google+
Close

The Corner

The one and only.

Romney’s Religion Problem



Text  



After Rick Perry’s wobbly performance shifted some momentum back to Mitt Romney, conservatives began another round of speculation about his appeal in the early-primary states. It seems that his religious affiliation remains a serious problem for him.

USA Today reported on latest Gallup poll question:

Although three of four Americans say they would support a presidential candidate who is an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, the Gallup Poll finds that 22% say they would not.

That figure has not changed much since Gallup started measuring opinion on this subject in 1967. One difference comes by party: While 27% of Democrats say they would not support a Mormon for president, that figure is 20% for Republicans.

Those rates may not sound like much, but they could tip a close election — and are likely to be somewhat understated because some poll respondents would be reluctant to admit to anti-Mormon bias. Another recent survey by pollster Gary Lawrence, himself a Mormon, confirmed the bias, but Lawrence offered a more positive spin:

Lawrence’s poll also asked voters to what extent they would consider voting for a person of a specific religion.  Five times as many voters would never consider voting for a Mormon (20%) as compared to a Catholic or a Baptist (4%).  As for support, 50% would definitely consider a Catholic and 47% a Baptist, but only 30% would definitely consider a Mormon.

However, while such results have been touted as an uphill battle for Mormons running for office, other questions demonstrate these generic measures may not be that important.  

“If religion played a big role in the vote decision, more people could correctly identify candidates’ religions,” Lawrence said. “While 85% of voters have heard of Mitt Romney, only 41% know he is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, aka Mormon, despite considerable publicity.  Only 11% and 6% respectively know that Jon Huntsman, Jr. and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid are also Mormons.”  

Similarly, the survey found that 7% of voters correctly identify Michelle Bachman’s evangelical Lutheranism, and merely 1% know Rick Perry is a Methodist.  Further confusion: 17% still think Barack Obama is a Muslim.

“Those aren’t numbers that suggest passionate interest,” Lawrence said.

Perhaps, but by Election Day a significant majority of voters will know Romney is a Mormon. I don’t think that should matter one bit. But it might.



Text