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Bias against Mormon presidential candidate unchanged since 1967, poll finds
Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, is trying to become the first Mormon president.
June 21st, 2012
01:19 PM ET

Bias against Mormon presidential candidate unchanged since 1967, poll finds

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

(CNN) - Bias against a Mormon presidential candidate hasn’t budged in 45 years, with 18% of Americans saying they would not vote for a well-qualified candidate who happened to be Mormon, according to a Gallup Poll released Thursday.

The survey points up potential challenges for presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who is vying to be the first Mormon in the White House.

Gallup first asked Americans about support for a Mormon presidential candidate in 1967 when Romney’s father, George Romney, was running for president. That year, 17% of Americans said they would not vote for a well-qualified Mormon for president.

George Romney dropped out of the race after making a gaffe about the Vietnam War, and Richard Nixon won the GOP nomination in 1968.

The shaping of a candidate: A look at Mitt Romney's faith journey

“The stability of resistance to a Mormon presidential candidate over the past 45 years is an anomaly,” Gallup editor-in-chief Frank Newport wrote in a survey report, noting that “resistance to a candidate who is black, a woman, or Jewish has declined substantially over the same period of time.”

The survey also found that four in 10 Americans do not know that Romney is Mormon. Gallup found that those who know Romney is a Mormon are also the most likely to back the idea of a Mormon for president.

But the national learning curve on Romney's religion "suggests the possibility that as Romney's faith becomes better known this summer and fall, it could become more of a negative factor," Newport wrote in his report.

CNN Explains: What’s Mormonism?

"Those who resist the idea of a Mormon president will in theory become more likely to realize that Romney is a Mormon as the campaign unfolds," Newport wrote.

Bias against a Mormon candidate is significantly higher among Democrats and independents than among Republicans, Gallup found.

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

Twenty-four percent of Democrats and 18% of independents said they would not vote for a well-qualified Mormon who was nominated by their party, while 10% of Republicans expressed such opposition.

Resistance to a Mormon candidate was much higher among Americans with lower levels of education, with 23% of those without a high school diploma saying they would not support a well-qualified Mormon. Six percent of those with postgraduate education shared that view.

In his report, Newport said that it’s “unclear how the current level of resistance to the idea of voting for a Mormon presidential candidate will affect the election.”

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“History shows that these types of attitudes in and of themselves are not an impediment to victory,” Newport wrote, citing a 1960 poll that found 21% of Americans would not vote for a well-qualified Catholic candidate for the presidency.

Later that same year, John F. Kennedy won the White House.

The Romney campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In an interview earlier this year, Southern Baptist leader Richard Land predicted that Romney’s Mormonism would become a bigger political challenge for the candidate - not because of anti-Mormon bias among evangelicals but because of that bias among independents.

Most evangelicals already “know what Mormonism believes and most of them are prepared to vote for Mitt Romney in a general election against Barack Obama in spite of his Mormonism,” said Land, public policy chief for the country’s largest evangelical denomination.

“The 40% of electorate that’s independent, most of them have no idea what Mormons believe,” Land said. “But they will all know what Mormons believe by the general election.”

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: 2012 Election • Mormonism • Politics

soundoff (2,017 Responses)
  1. Sue

    We really need an atheist in office who will bring common sense, compassion and science into decisions affecting this world, not someone who follows the Joe Smith cult. Magic glasses?? Seriously?? Extreme religions are dangerous, no matter what side of the world they come from.

    June 21, 2012 at 8:17 pm |
    • die die

      atheist president? me gusta.

      June 21, 2012 at 8:44 pm |
  2. david

    I think we're going to be surprised at how many people are willing to give Romney a chance no matter what his religion is after 4 years of the fiasco that Obama's failed socialist experiment has been.

    June 21, 2012 at 8:15 pm |
    • ryan

      George Bush had conviction despite public opinion polls (invading Iraq under false pretenses)

      Obama has conviction despite opinion polls (gay's are people too and deserve rights)

      Again I ask who is the real romney? That's the problem. If the crazy beliefs of mormonism are at his core, omg, we're screwed. If they're not, then I guess he flipflopped on his high preistedness.

      June 21, 2012 at 8:20 pm |
    • die die

      poor, deluded david, foaming at the mouth with everything he's been told to repeat. lol.

      June 21, 2012 at 8:45 pm |
  3. Mark Yelka

    I was a Mormon for 13 years. I had my "temple recommend" that allowed me to do the special sacraments that can only be done in the privacy of Mormon temples. I *know* that each member of the Church is directed to follow the leadership of the Church. To be a Mormon, you must follow the directions of the Prophet of the Church. No exceptions. So, to vote a Mormon as President of the United States is to put the Mormon Prophet in the White House. Do Americans really want that? NO!

    June 21, 2012 at 8:15 pm |
    • Wicked Wanda

      Right. We'd all rather have to celebrate Ramadan.

      June 21, 2012 at 8:18 pm |
    • Robert

      the same silliness was leveled against John F. Kennedy and the Pope back in the day...

      June 21, 2012 at 8:19 pm |
    • peter

      wanda– mormonism and islam is a mental illness-this has nothing to do with the pope or kennedy

      June 21, 2012 at 8:22 pm |
    • ryan

      apples and oranges. Kennedy had nothing in his past to show that he was a stooge of the Pope, just an average american catholic. Romney has proven he puts his religion above all else and submits to church authority, unless of course he's a liar and took the church for a ride as a high priest. I'm sure the mormon church would frown in him acting as kennedy did in not submitting to the pope. Even limited knowledge of the mormon church tells you that these people are serious about not letting people have opinions contrary to the mormon church. However, in catholicism, even the nuns are rallying against papal dictates.

      June 21, 2012 at 8:25 pm |
  4. ryan

    Hmmm, maybe it has to do with not allowing african americans in the mormon church into the modern era. I won't vote for someone who wears potato sack underwear for good luck and is striving to be God and run planets. And don't say romney doesn't believe that since he is a high priest in the mormon church and pretty much was one of the final voices for moral decisions made in Massachusetts. And politically he's been on every side of issues. Hmmm, running for governor in MA as someone who will be more gay friendly than kennedy and pro choice and then run for president as anti-gay and pro life? Who is the real romney. The world waits to find out. Oh, and Willard, that was a donut. The peasants eat a lot of those. And maybe instead of investing in elevator garages for your wife's "couple of cadillacs" do something for society instead out of conviction if you have that.

    June 21, 2012 at 8:07 pm |
    • John

      Great. Then don't.

      June 21, 2012 at 8:11 pm |
  5. Jeff Kelly

    So, we have a choice between a Mormon or a Muslim? Easy choice for me.

    June 21, 2012 at 8:06 pm |
    • Mark H

      You'e an idiot. A man attends a Christian church his entirely life and you insist he's a Muslim. On what a basis? So he's a closet Muslim? Go back in your trailer and pick up a book at your reading level – possibly Glenn Beck or Saran Palin.

      June 21, 2012 at 8:19 pm |
    • peter

      jeff-me too–im sitting out

      June 21, 2012 at 8:26 pm |
    • Wicked Wanda

      jeff – Brilliant. Good for you. That way you have more time to sit home and pull out the whip to flagellate yourself and make those unworthy candidates pay for their audacity. How dare they run to be your President !

      June 21, 2012 at 8:44 pm |
  6. John the Historian

    But mormonism is only a cult not Christian not even a faith. Pure fiction book of mormon. Joseph Smith a murderer and polygamist just llike Brigham Young. Go to Nauvoo or Kolob and wait for the polygamist Jesus Christ !!!!

    June 21, 2012 at 7:57 pm |
    • John

      If you want to talk about Pure Fiction, then let's look at John The Historian. A truly non-historian that thinks that just because some notion develops between his ears that he is somehow intelligent and "in the know".

      Who do you claim to be JtH that qualifies you to be anything but another worthless whiner?

      June 21, 2012 at 8:00 pm |
    • Mavent

      Well, you're an ldiot.

      June 21, 2012 at 8:03 pm |
  7. gregingso

    This is why Romney may not win in my home state of North Carolina. The republicans think they have NC in the bag since Obama came out in support of gay marriage because a majority here disagree with him on that. Somehow they think that the gold ole boys down here are just going to ignore the fact that Romney is a mormon. All the black baptists that helped to pass the marriage amendment who were stating emphatically they would not support Obama over his position are going to have to pick between him and a cultist (in their mind, not mine) and many of them who publically say the won't support Obama, when the curtain closes, are going to anyway.

    June 21, 2012 at 7:57 pm |
    • peter

      greg–virgina he won't and nc is again in the playbook–how many republicans like me won't vote for a mormon because they think the mormon God is a cult ect ect-It says in the article that 10 percent won't vote for romney–meaning they will sit out-won't be voting for obama anymore than i will-It's hire than 10 percent but lets say it is 3 percent–3 percent of republicans who stay home –romney loses–and serves them right–i voted for santorum and refuse to vote for a mormon-btw,i have family in nc

      June 21, 2012 at 8:16 pm |
  8. msadr

    I'm 100%, jaw-dropped, bug-eyed, falling-off-my-chair STUNNED that 4 in 10 Americans do not know Romney is a Mormon!

    June 21, 2012 at 7:57 pm |
    • Wicked Wanda

      I bet you wet yourself, too.

      June 21, 2012 at 8:04 pm |
    • chgn66

      dude, half of those 40% probably don't even know who Romney is.

      June 21, 2012 at 8:10 pm |
    • Jim Oliver

      I can't believe that 40% of Americans do not know Romney is a Mormon! How much reading do this folks do regarding politics? I know people occasionally suggest that there should be an IQ test for voting and they generally are saying it in jest. Perhaps there should a few multiple choice questions that you have to pass before getting to vote. I am sure the right would think it would benefit them the most and the left would believe that they would benefit.

      June 21, 2012 at 8:13 pm |
    • Pull My Finger

      Whoever pays Diebold the most will benefit.

      June 21, 2012 at 8:20 pm |
  9. adamthefirst

    cnn trying for more HATE articles against all religions.

    June 21, 2012 at 7:54 pm |
    • John the Historian

      But mormonism is only a cult.

      June 21, 2012 at 7:58 pm |
    • chgn66

      in what way is this a hate article against religion?

      June 21, 2012 at 8:12 pm |
  10. John the Historian

    Can mormons marry Jews or they they believe they are the 13th tribe ?

    June 21, 2012 at 7:51 pm |
  11. John the Historian

    Does anyone know how many aunts and uncles Wilard has ?

    June 21, 2012 at 7:50 pm |
  12. John the Historian

    How many wifes did Willard's grandfather have in Mexico anyone know ?

    June 21, 2012 at 7:49 pm |
    • John

      Grandfather? None. Great Grandfather? One less than Obama's Great Grandfather.

      Don't you do any of your own research JtH?

      June 21, 2012 at 8:02 pm |
  13. GOPlies

    I wouldn't mind voting for Romney but he has pulled a 180 on almost every single idea he has had. He just doesn't cut it for me. I'm sure my friends on the right as loony as they can be would agree with me. It's just to bad Republicans had to step in it and nominate him.

    June 21, 2012 at 7:48 pm |
    • J E L L O

      When they made Mitt Romney they had to break the Jello Mold...

      June 21, 2012 at 7:55 pm |
    • chgn66

      Romney would be the most do-nothing president ever. He caves into every interest group. His entire campaign is: "I ran a company that cleaned out other companies and pocketed the profits, so I must be able to fix the US Economy. Trust me."

      June 21, 2012 at 8:14 pm |
  14. John the Historian

    But why are not the golden tablets of Joseph Smith the polygamist on display ? Explain

    June 21, 2012 at 7:48 pm |
  15. die die

    i don't like any cult. and every religion fits the description, as far as i'm concerned.

    June 21, 2012 at 7:47 pm |
  16. John the Historian

    But Joseph Smith only was a rapist and polygamist ?

    June 21, 2012 at 7:47 pm |
    • Proud Mormon

      Yes, Joseph Smith did have multiple wives and according to our current laws some of them would have been considered statutory r.a.p.e, but you have to see through that to his faith in Jesus. Just like Lot was allowed to procreate with his daughters, we must make excuses for those with unusual circvmstances, like having your wife turned into a pillar of salt or finding yourself extremely attracted to your neighbors 12 year old daughter...

      June 21, 2012 at 7:59 pm |
  17. John the Historian

    Now if Willard Romney is such a gay hater but said he would do more for Gay rights than Ted Kennedy what will Romney do for the mormon cult. Will Nauvoo, Illinois be our next capital ?

    June 21, 2012 at 7:46 pm |
    • Manitoba Hoser

      Professor Plum in the study with a wrench.

      June 21, 2012 at 7:49 pm |
  18. The Corrector

    This guy Romney looks like he doesn't have a clue!
    You keep choosing presidents that look like they don't have a clue!
    Clueless Obama!
    Clueless Bush Jnr!
    Clueless Bush Snr!
    Should I go back any further?
    Stop choosing presidents who don't have a clue!
    So far, Donald Duck would've made a better president than any of these!

    June 21, 2012 at 7:45 pm |
    • GOPlies

      They picked Romney because he looks like a president. After all Romney wasn't hired at Bain for job creation

      June 21, 2012 at 7:51 pm |
    • Mass Debater

      Soooo, I take it you were good with Clinton?

      June 21, 2012 at 7:52 pm |
    • John

      OK the Corrector.....Why don't you get off your lazy behind and go do something instead of whining about everyone else?

      June 21, 2012 at 8:04 pm |
    • Wicked Wanda

      Well, with a name like The Corrector, why should he? His influence on the problems of our time is painfully obvious, so why break a sweat?

      June 21, 2012 at 8:07 pm |
    • Veritas

      He was hired by Bain to save 80% of companies.The 20% they couldn't save had all but gone under before Bain got to them
      AND Romney turned a $3 Billion deficit to a $2 Billion SURPLUS in Massachusets!

      Hint – put your brain into second gear before opening your ill-educated mouth!

      June 21, 2012 at 8:13 pm |
  19. elwood

    If Mormons dumped ALL the Joseph Smith stuff, they would be great Protestants.

    June 21, 2012 at 7:44 pm |
    • The Corrector

      The Mormons need a middleman(JS) which is Biblically illegal.
      Well spotted elwood!

      June 21, 2012 at 7:47 pm |
    • Wicked Wanda

      The Corrector can be my middle man. Here, sweetie. Sit down right here in front of me.

      June 21, 2012 at 8:07 pm |
    • The Corrector

      LOL! Wicked Wanda!
      I love you already!
      Healthiest Regards!

      June 21, 2012 at 8:45 pm |
  20. John the Historian

    Have any mormon cult followers read Mark Twain's account of Brigham Young.

    June 21, 2012 at 7:44 pm |
    • ldsrevelations

      Twain called the Book of Mormon "chloroform in print." He was right. Boring 19th century juvenile fiction sold as ancient scripture, it is.

      June 21, 2012 at 7:53 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.