I don’t think the Mormon card is a legitimate card to play against Mitt Romney. Love him or hate him, there are plenty of reasons to vote for or against the man besides his religion.
But if the entrance polls are accurate – that 25 percent of the GOP caucusgoers were Mormon, and that 94 percent of those voters voted for Romney – then the post-victory spin from his rivals is going to be, “Well, what do you expect? He mobilized the Mormons, and they put him over the top.” (To his credit, he also won evangelical Protestants and Catholics, but by much narrower margins.)
If accurate, that’s a wildly disproportionate turnout for that demographic. As MSNBC notes, they’re 7.5 percent of the state’s population.
I can hear the cries of, “so what?” Yes, Nevadans are free to vote for or against any candidate on whatever basis. But I’m almost as disturbed by those who vote for a candidate because of his or her religion as I am by those who vote against a candidate because of his or her religion.
I mean, I’m Catholic (and a lousy one at that), but if I put the religious denomination above all else, I’d end up voting for Mario Cuomo, Nancy Pelosi, Ted Kennedy, John Kerry, Bob Menendez, etc. …
UPDATE: Having said all that, if I were a Mormon, I might want to vote for a Mormon candidate, just to give candidates who ask, “don’t Mormons believe that Jesus and the devil are brothers?” a poke in the eye…
ANOTHER UPDATE: And does this disqualify my earlier comment that this state was outside Romney’s “comfort zone?” … Eh. You figure Romney would have two regions in which he would fit well – Massachusetts and the states near it (although that didn’t work in New Hampshire, obviously) and Michigan because of his family history.
YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Several reader e-mail me that George W. Bush got 95 percent of the Mormon vote in the 2004 general election, so they vote for conservatives, not just members of their own faith. But that’s a general election, up against Senator “Hollywood represents the best of our nation,” a guy who makes Joe Lieberman look conservative. Romney up against Thompson, Paul, Hunter… I don’t think even McCain or Giuliani compare to Kerry if your measuring stick is who is least conservative.