The Corner

Good Thing Nobody’s a 72-Year-Old Mormon

From the LA Times:

Democrats have an overwhelmingly favorable view of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, but she would be soundly beaten if she ran for president against Republican Sen. John McCain now, a new Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll has found.

Underscoring the New York Democrat’s potential vulnerability, the poll also found that Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, a Republican little known to most voters, would give Clinton a run for her money.

Given a choice between McCain and Clinton, half of those surveyed said they would vote for the Arizona Republican, compared with 36% for the former first lady. In a matchup with Romney, the poll indicated Clinton would win by just 6 percentage points, 42% to 36%.

Interesting detail:

Romney’s religion — he is a Mormon — and McCain’s age could be more problematic. Fourteen percent of registered voters polled said they would not vote for a Mormon, and the same number said they would not vote for someone who is 72 years old, which will be McCain’s age by election day in 2008.

I’ve seen a couple of other polls on Mormonism, and the question in this one was slightly different even from the one the LA Times asked earlier this year: The new poll asked people to “suppose your party nominated” a Mormon. This has the effect of dropping resistance to the idea of a Mormon in the White House. In June, the LA Times asked people to judge Mormons running for office by “just thinking about a candidate’s religion”–something very few voters are likely to do–and 37 percent said they would’t vote for a Mormon. (Here’s a pdf link to the June poll.) The new question is much more realistic in terms of assessing the prospective behavior of voters.

What’s new here is the concern about McCain’s age. According to this poll, it’s as much a handicap as Romney’s Mormonism. So far, however, we’ve heard much, much more chatter about Romney’s Mormonism than McCain’s age.

John J. Miller — John J. Miller is the national correspondent for National Review and the director of the Dow Journalism Program at Hillsdale College. His new book is Reading Around: Journalism on Authors, Artists, and Ideas.

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