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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. Furious Frank

    No one "happens to be" Mormon. You can happen to be gay or a woman or black. You decide to be Mormon. Should we be surprised that 18% of the country finds a cult of racists to be unacceptable as leaders? We should be disappointed...that more don't feel this way.

    June 21, 2012 at 9:35 pm |
    • John

      Those racists you are talking about.... Are you talking about Obama and the Demoncrats?

      June 21, 2012 at 9:37 pm |
  2. ReligiousIgnorance

    @DanBum, that was directed at BigitVomit. So much emotion on this thread!!!!

    June 21, 2012 at 9:32 pm |
  3. Russian Federation

    HA!!!HA!!!HA!!!!HA!!!!HA!!!!HA!!!! This crazy nation of yours would be much better off if someone like the former Reverend Jim Jones, David Koresh, Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, or Warren Jeffs ran for office....USA is laughing stock of world. HA!!!HA!!!HA!!!!HA!!!!HA!!!!HA!!!! Here in Russian Federation, we now have similar Democracy like you have in USA, but at least we don't let our people get too carried away with it. In Russia, we send pedophiles to Siberia for forced hard labor until they die. In USA you arrest them and let them right back out on streets again. HA!!!HA!!!HA!!!!HA!!!!HA!!!!HA!!!! Yes, USA is very funny nation. We have good laugh all the time in Москва watching news from USA. HA!!!HA!!!HA!!!!HA!!!!HA!!!!HA!!!!

    June 21, 2012 at 9:32 pm |
    • DanBun

      And Russia is VERY impressive. Are you still a nation? Or has another group broken off?

      June 21, 2012 at 9:34 pm |
    • ReligiousIgnorance

      HAHA!!!!!!!! lame dude HAHA!!!!!!! put down the vodka HAHA!!!!!!!

      June 21, 2012 at 9:34 pm |
    • John

      You commies are the same commies you always were. You are not a meaningful democracy. Unless you are pretending to be Mexico.

      June 21, 2012 at 9:36 pm |
    • Russian Federation

      Oh we still very proud nation. At least we do not split ourselves down to red elephants and blue jacka$$es. Our political system today works for all proud Russians. And USA can learn a lot from Russian criminal justice system. I think you call it capital punishment in your country. Our form of capital punishment can be summed up in one word, Siberia. We send all hardened criminals to Siberia where it goes down to 125 degrees in winter and make these prisoners work until their hands fall off. In USA, seems like criminals get away with everything. Oh, and we do love our Vodka; yes, indeed we do.

      June 21, 2012 at 9:42 pm |
    • ReligiousIgnorance

      Your about as Russian as Obama was a priesthood holder in the Mormon church circa 1975.

      June 21, 2012 at 9:46 pm |
  4. Adam Balm

    All you religious freaks are a bunch of IDIOTS !!!! Nothing more, nothing less !!!! Just because one's Catholic, another is Jewish, another is Mormon, another is Buddhist, another is Muslim, etc., WHAT THE HECK DIFFERENCE DOES IT MAKE, MORONS ???? The Christians say, "Jesus is Lord..." Well, if that's true, does it mean Jesus handed down the Ten Commandments to Moses?? I DON'T THINK SO, MORONS !!!!

    Religion is solely a reason to spread FEAR, HATE, WAR and EVERLASTING TURMOIL amongst one another !!!! But hey, what do I know?? I am just an Adam Balm. And you may also know my dear brother, H. Balm !!!! WE CAN SOLVE ALL WORLD ISSUES SIMPLY WITH THE PRESS OF THE BUTTON !!!!!! Then who are you going to pray too??

    June 21, 2012 at 9:24 pm |
    • DanBun

      Not all faiths, and not all people of faith, are like that. Some fit your remarks, but not all. You are over-simplifying, and that is almost always a form of prejudice. The Red Cross and Salvation Army are both religious organizations, and both have done many good things for many people.

      June 21, 2012 at 9:29 pm |
    • John

      Have you been looking into the Mirror Again AB?

      June 21, 2012 at 9:34 pm |
    • ReligiousIgnorance

      You got it all figured out!! Shut down the thread everyone and goodnight!!!!!!

      June 21, 2012 at 9:35 pm |
  5. farcier93

    Folks, is this USA, the land of freedom. I thought religious bias was just the place in third world countries. I am shocked to see the poll, even Europe and Canada are way ahead. Is this 21 st century? I am not a Mormon but with Jewish inheritance, I understand how it feels when you are hated because of your religion. Its really sad and people need to move on. JFK nomination has already created an opening for somebody like Mitt Romney and I say end religious bigotry.

    June 21, 2012 at 9:22 pm |
    • Ancient Curse

      Is it bigotry to take someone's beliefs into consideration when deciding whether or not we want that person to lead and represent an entire nation? Mormonism is close to Scientology in more ways that one - that matters. Joseph Smith was an obvious con-artist - that matters. These beliefs speak to the mind of this candidate. If it were my neighbor, I'd shake my head and move on without giving it much thought. That is called "tolerance." But Romney wants to be much more than my neighbor. He wants to be my representative on the world stage. His beliefs matter.

      June 21, 2012 at 9:49 pm |
  6. Cindy

    My problems with Mormons is they try to push themselves off as Christians. They are not Christians and should not try to belong to a religion that does not have their beliefs. Why don't they just say "I am a Mormon." Leave the Christian out of it. There is a lot of non-christian religions.

    June 21, 2012 at 9:20 pm |
    • John

      It's not very Christian of you to claim Mormon's are not Christians. You obviously don't have a clue what you are talking about.

      June 21, 2012 at 9:23 pm |
    • Dan

      Cindy, that's Church of "Jesus Christ"–what else would you call it? I call it Christian.

      June 21, 2012 at 9:26 pm |
    • Cindy

      It is not Christian. The Christian leaders will tell you so. We do not have the same beliefs. Billy Graham and Franklin have also said they are not Christian along with other leaders.

      June 21, 2012 at 9:28 pm |
    • Cindy

      Mormons think everyone is the son of God. Christians do not. In Romney's world Bill Clinton is the son of God. In the Christian world, he is not.

      June 21, 2012 at 9:30 pm |
    • Dan

      The Christian leaders will tell me so? I recommend you look into it for yourself. We are not only Christian because we believe in Christ and follow the Bible, but we have other books of scriptures that testify of Him. Perhaps we are not just Christian, we are overly Christian...

      June 21, 2012 at 9:32 pm |
    • Dan

      You have to consider the purpose of life. Where did we come from? Why are we here? Where will we go after this life, and what will we do there? We have the answers to these questions.

      June 21, 2012 at 9:37 pm |
    • Cindy

      John – What you have said is why Christians do not like Mormons. The Jewish and Muslim faiths also recognize Jesus, and they also are not Christian. It was the Christians that shot Joseph Smith.

      June 21, 2012 at 9:38 pm |
    • John

      Cindy - What exactly is a "Christian Leader"? There are more than 2,000 flavors of Christian in America alone, and they all hate each other with a devilish poison.

      June 21, 2012 at 9:39 pm |
    • Cindy

      John, seems you have never been to church.

      June 21, 2012 at 9:47 pm |
    • Ancient Curse

      Baptists – Christians.
      Catholics – Christians.
      Quakers – Christians.
      Methodists – Christians.
      Presbyterians – Christians.
      Jehovah's Witnesses – Christians.
      Mormons – Christians.
      Ku Klux Klan – Christians.

      What difference does it make? Not even Christians can agree on Christianity. Too much ambiguity among the Bronze Age believers. Folks can't see the forest from the trees.

      June 21, 2012 at 9:55 pm |
  7. HeavenSent

    Learn more about the sacred Mormon underwear at prolapsed.net!

    June 21, 2012 at 9:15 pm |
    • John

      Learn more about Gerbal Murder from HeavenSent the Gerbal killer.

      June 21, 2012 at 9:24 pm |
    • Ancient Curse

      Learn to spell "gerbil" from Merriam-Webster Online

      June 21, 2012 at 9:55 pm |
  8. Bigot vomit

    I hate it when people spew forth the filthy rumors and gossip they heard from un-credible, hateful sources in an effort to bring other ignorant prejudiced people into their mire of lies. I am sick of all the bigotry against Mormons. The Mormons I've met have all been great people who love God and their neighbors (sound familiar?). Don't believe the disgusting lies that have been vomited in this forum. Go to the source. Ask a Mormon you know about their beliefs. It may surprise you how normal they are.

    June 21, 2012 at 9:13 pm |
    • ReligiousIgnorance

      If you really want the truth of Mormonism (AKA, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints), check out UTLM dot org, and HOTM dot TV. It's all there without they filter of church leadership and tricky Mormon redirection..... of which they are simply marvelous.

      June 21, 2012 at 9:14 pm |
    • robert

      Calling an irrational person irrational is no more bigoted than calling a sick person sick. While calling a sick person "normal" is delusional.

      June 21, 2012 at 9:19 pm |
    • southernsugar

      The Mormons are a cult. I don't need to know anymore about them.

      June 21, 2012 at 9:20 pm |
    • DanBun

      Do they really wear special udnerwear?
      Do they really believe in multiple levels of heaven?
      Do they really believe that they can become a god of their own world?
      Yep. Yep. Yep.

      June 21, 2012 at 9:23 pm |
    • Bigot vomit

      See? This is what I'm talking about!

      June 21, 2012 at 9:24 pm |
    • ReligiousIgnorance

      How does the truth of the history and foundation of the Mormon church make me a bigot? My feelings and opinion have no bearing on the reality of recorded history. You should rethink and articulate a clearer point.

      June 21, 2012 at 9:27 pm |
    • DanBun

      What did I write that was wrong?

      June 21, 2012 at 9:30 pm |
    • DanBun

      My Mormon neighbor complains about wearing his garments/underwear.....

      June 21, 2012 at 9:33 pm |
  9. robert

    Wow, people are judging this guy just because he believes without question the ramblings of a 19th century con man. Next you're going to say that people – who believe that a sky daddy came to earth so that he could have himself executed so that he could forgive humanity for the sins he says they have – are irrational. Since when does it say that you need to be intelligent or rational to hold office? What are we supposed to say to all those Snake Handlers, Moonies and Satanists that are dreaming of becoming president?

    June 21, 2012 at 9:13 pm |
  10. Get Real

    I'll take the Mormon, you can keep the mor on

    June 21, 2012 at 9:12 pm |
    • DanBun

      Bush is not running anymore.....

      June 21, 2012 at 9:24 pm |
    • John

      Obama makes Bush look like a complete genius.

      June 21, 2012 at 9:28 pm |
    • robert

      @John, to folks like you, intelligence is based on the color of a man's kin. Nothing more.

      June 21, 2012 at 9:31 pm |
    • DanBun

      John: I am in Texas, and we recognize that Bush cannot speak in complete sentences, and that he DID hurt the US reputation.

      June 21, 2012 at 9:36 pm |
  11. MrWilliams

    Im not a fan of Romney , but Im seeing alot of hatred of him because he is a mormon, every religion has its dark side (including the atheists), lets base the candidates of their merits and qualifications instead

    June 21, 2012 at 9:08 pm |
    • T-Max73

      Please tell me you aren't one of those who claim atheism is a religion. Non belief in a deity or the supernatural is not a religion. I think religious people enjoy making that statement because it suggests that non belief in a god or the supernatural is just as silly as what they believe. These semantic games have no effect on rational and cognitively capable minds, but they certainly suggest that secularism has religion cornered if this is all they have as a counterargument.

      June 21, 2012 at 9:12 pm |
    • robert

      Atheism is a religion just like bald is a hair style.

      June 21, 2012 at 9:15 pm |
    • MrWilliams

      No i dont belive its a religion i just put in in their to show they have a dark side too thats all

      June 21, 2012 at 9:16 pm |
    • Dan

      The ONLY thing the atheists have is the dark side.

      June 21, 2012 at 9:19 pm |
    • robert

      What dark side does Atheism have? Atheism is nothing more than a position on the proposition that a god or gods exist. There is nothing more to it. So what is the dark side? What is the dark side to A-Elfism or A-Dragonism or A-IntergalacticSpaghettiMonsterism? Best to know what you are talking about BEFORE saying anything.

      June 21, 2012 at 9:23 pm |
    • robert

      @Dan, is that from your religion of brotherly love? Perhaps you could point to something positive that religion has brought to the world. Maybe you can find it under the pile of burnt and tortured bodies your religion has left behind.

      June 21, 2012 at 9:26 pm |
    • Dan

      It's a simple matter of logic. God is light. Those who believe in God have light. Those who don't–what's the opposite of light? Darkness.

      June 21, 2012 at 9:30 pm |
  12. ug

    Oh it has cahnged for the better...who cares what cnn the commie news network will tell you...they are just liberal terrorist liars...Vote GOP and vote Romney...religion has nothing to do with this election like libs want to make it out to be...they have their double standards you know.

    June 21, 2012 at 9:07 pm |
  13. Dan

    As a Mormon, I have concerns about Romney. He seems to be a nice guy, is successful, has some good capabilities to offer as president, but has made little to no connection to the US public. It's also not clear what he stands for. Up until he ran for President, he was moderate; now he's turned a complete 180. Some say, that's what you have to do to get the support of the base. I call it going against principle, and ultimately a shirking of integrity. I loved gubernatorial candidate Romney; not connecting with this Romney.
    As for the Mormon bias, it's a sad truth. When I look at the lies and mistruths, and, simply, egregious misunderstandings of what the Mormon faith believes, it's no wonder Americans are so sceptical. Mormons are good for America. America needs Mormons.

    June 21, 2012 at 9:06 pm |
  14. jaredbradshaw

    Mor(m)onism is a dangerous cult. Unfortunately, a Mor(m)on is our only alternative to the obamanation that has been the last 4 years. Hillary in 2012.

    June 21, 2012 at 9:06 pm |
    • Dan

      Hilary?? What are you smoking??

      June 21, 2012 at 9:10 pm |
    • Hilary

      Hell, No. Bush, then Barry? You're not going to be able to dump all their crap on me. I'm going to my Pilates class to work off my fat ass. I've got interns to woo too, you know..

      June 21, 2012 at 9:14 pm |
  15. not with it

    I stopped paying attention to romney when I found out he was a mormon.. Would we vote for a muslim president? I don't so!

    June 21, 2012 at 9:05 pm |
    • Dan

      You don't think, we get it.

      June 21, 2012 at 9:41 pm |
  16. ramsaxon

    People have been fed words of wisdom from day one. Special interst groups continuously feed unsuspecting people disparaging remarks connoting deception and distortion. Truth is available. We must look for it through any screens of distotion. Religions and carnivals command the midway with their carneys'.

    June 21, 2012 at 9:05 pm |
  17. ReligiousIgnorance

    If you really want the truth of Mormonism (AKA, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints), check out UTLM dot org, and HOTM dot TV. It's all there without they filter of church leadership and tricky Mormon redirection..... of which they are simply marvelous. EYE OPENING!!!

    June 21, 2012 at 9:04 pm |
    • jon

      Actually...lds.org tells it how it is. Anything else is very inaccurate

      June 21, 2012 at 9:16 pm |
    • Al

      I agree with Jon. I've seen the site, and anyone who actually spends some time on it will find that Mormons are normal people. Whether you agree with their doctrine or not, you will find that most of them are decent law-abiding citizens. Anyone who feels like mormonism is a cult must have had a bad experience with someone who claimed they were a Mormon, but wasn't.

      June 21, 2012 at 10:19 pm |
  18. TawandaK9

    So much hatred and ignorance. Why do so many people seem to enjoy trashing millions of people they don't even know? And the vast majority of it is either utter nonsense, or is twisted. Anyone who makes blanket statements about millions of people in hundreds of countries is a bigot.

    June 21, 2012 at 9:01 pm |
    • Pull My Finger

      Thankfully, based on you obtuse and insignificant comment, no one has any idea what you're saying. And that's a good thing, so keep it up.

      June 21, 2012 at 9:03 pm |
    • T-Max73

      Everything you just wrote could be said about the KKK, Nazis, Stalinists, Heaven's Gate, Branch Davidians, etc. Mormonism and it's claims must stand on their own merits-we have no obligation as voters to show deference and respect to nonsensical and divisive claims about the nature of reality just because someone claims to believe these ideas. There are plenty of people who believe Elvis is still alive or that Bigfoot still walks the forests of the Pacific Northwest-and we have every right to call them on these bad ideas. We have just as much right to tell those who claim to "know there is a God" and then proceed to tell us what he wants of us and how to live to provide evidence for these outrageous claims. I want a candidate who has his mind in reality and is not manipulated by childhood indoctrination of fanciful religious ideas and beliefs. Remember-those hijackers on 9/11 had some pretty serious beliefs about what their deity wanted of them AND of a promise of paradise if they faithfully obeyed. Never be afraid to ask for evidence when someone is making outlandish, outrageous, and nonsensical claims about the nature of reality. Peace

      June 21, 2012 at 9:20 pm |
    • Big difference

      But if you look at a typical member of KKK, nazi, etc., you will find someone with a lot of hate and prejudice. They are usually uneducated trashy folks. The Mormons I have known are not like that. They are good people. Their beliefs are simply misunderstood.

      June 21, 2012 at 9:36 pm |
    • Big difference

      To 73: But if you look at a typical member of KKK, nazi, etc., you will find someone with a lot of hate and prejudice. They are usually uneducated trashy folks. The Mormons I have known are not like that. They are good people. Their beliefs are simply misunderstood.

      June 21, 2012 at 9:37 pm |
  19. Skeptic

    Oh yeah? Was there a GOP Mormon nominee in 1967?

    I definitely will not vote for Mitt Romney.

    June 21, 2012 at 8:57 pm |
    • John

      Good. Mitt Romney doesn't want your vote.

      June 21, 2012 at 9:26 pm |
  20. AgeofInsanity

    We the people do not want a cult leader for president.

    June 21, 2012 at 8:56 pm |
    • Pull My Finger

      Oooohhhh... It's JEWWWWWish... but it's how they view it.

      http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/news/obama-will-go-down-in-history-as-the-president-who-lost-egypt-1.340057

      Now exactly who's the "cult leader?"

      June 21, 2012 at 9:02 pm |
    • jon

      they don't...that's why they're voting for Romney instead

      June 21, 2012 at 9:17 pm |
    • southernsugar

      Those are my sentiments.

      June 21, 2012 at 9:23 pm |
    • southernsugar

      My sentiments: I don't not want a cult member to lead my country.

      June 21, 2012 at 9:24 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.