Poll shows Americans know little about faiths of Obama, Romney
Mitt Romney announcing his presidential candidacy in New Hampshire last month.
July 26th, 2011
02:44 PM ET

Poll shows Americans know little about faiths of Obama, Romney

By Stephen Prothero, Special to CNN

Maybe Mitt Romney doesn’t have to worry about his Mormonism after all.

According to a poll released yesterday by the Public Research Research Institute and Religion News Service, most Americans (56%) say it is somewhat or very important for a presidential candidate to have strong religious beliefs.

This conviction is stronger among Republicans (71%) and Tea Party partisans (72%) but it is true even among Democrats, 51% of whom say they want their presidential candidates to have strong religious convictions.

Many Americans do not know, however, just what those beliefs are, even concerning the sitting president.

Nearly one out of five Americans (18%) thinks President Barack Obama is a Muslim, even though he has repeatedly and publicly self-identified as a Christian. Only 38% correctly identify him as a Christian. 40% say they did not know what his religious beliefs were.

Only four out of ten Americans know that the Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is a Mormon. Nearly half (46%) say they do not know his religious affiliation.

In a June Gallup Poll, 22% of Americans said they would not vote for an otherwise qualified Mormon. But they obviously cannot fault Romney for his faith if they don't know what his faith is.

Monday's PRRI/RNS poll also found that Obama is fairing well against potential Republican opponents. In a head-to-head matchup with Romney, 44% would vote for Obama and 36% for Romney. In an Obama/Bachmann race, 45% would vote for Obama and 37% for Bachmann.

- CNN Belief Blog contributor

Filed under: Uncategorized

soundoff (116 Responses)
  1. James

    Sherpa,I think that it is pretty obivuos that almost all of us would prefer a president who would do what we would do at our finest. That would tend to be someone who helps the good guys, beats back the bad guys, and balances the checkbook. No-one wants a corrupt politician anymore (Clinton cured us). As regards an idealist, only so long as his ideals match ours.

    November 8, 2012 at 8:40 am |
  2. FaithScent

    Men without Christian conscience can never govern properly, for they'll always support immorality and con-cent-rate on unimportant issues. Americans must worry over character, not over economy.

    July 31, 2011 at 10:06 am |
    • carol

      You are aware, of coure, that Thomas Jefferson wasn't a Christian, correct?

      August 22, 2011 at 9:06 pm |
  3. AGuest9

    Who cares about what they believe? "Can they govern?" is the real question. We see where the radicals brought us – to the brink of insolvency!

    July 31, 2011 at 2:46 am |
  4. Reality

    So why do we really care what a first century CE, illiterate, long-dead, a-mouldering in the ground, preacher man would do or say? Votes? Hmmm?

    But MR goes an additional step by believing all the hocus-pocus of Joseph Smith, one of the great con men who ever lived

    July 30, 2011 at 12:36 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.