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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. shep

    Parley P Pratt was Mitt Romney's great grandfather. He was killed by a jealous husband because Parley was nailing the man's wife. Oh yeah. Parley already had 12 wives. Do your own research. You won't believe it.

    June 21, 2012 at 10:24 pm |
    • Krappie Kolob

      Ole' Parley sure got around! Now for his plentiful nailing of women, he's one of my krappy kings on Kolob, can I get a Hie five anyone?

      June 21, 2012 at 10:55 pm |
  2. doodah

    I think you would see the same number for a Wiccan candidate.

    June 21, 2012 at 10:23 pm |
  3. Dave Nash

    Most of you are absolutely clueless about what Mormons believe, and just as importantly who they are. I'll tell you this, if your city had a natural disaster and you needed aid, you should hope a Mormon is your neighbor, because they would take care of you. Take the time to actually know what Mormons believe, and have some dignity and stop allowing yourselves to become spiteful, mean-spirited, and bitter. Start with our "Articles of Faith."

    http://www.lds.org/scriptures/pgp/a-of-f/1?lang=eng

    That's what we really believe. Oh, that and feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and doing good to those around you.

    June 21, 2012 at 10:23 pm |
    • shep

      The Bible says that anyone who alters the words of the Bible is a blasphemer. The Book of Mormon certainly does that. the Bible says to beware false prophets. Joseph Smith certainly was that. I am just following the teachings of my faith. What's wrong with that???

      June 21, 2012 at 10:30 pm |
    • Scott

      They are a cult by definition plain and simple, please read your history because the truth about his cult is truly horrific especially to Native Americans. they also gave Romney a hiding place so that he could be a draft dodger during the Vietnam War, which is why our military is not behind him.

      June 21, 2012 at 10:33 pm |
  4. nutmegrins

    Sometimes I really wish that they would add that the real and full name of the "Mormon" church to let people understand what the church is all about. The name is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We believe in Jesus Christ. If people knew that they probably would think much differently about Mormonism.

    June 21, 2012 at 10:21 pm |
    • nutmegrins

      By "they" I mean CNN and other media outlets.

      June 21, 2012 at 10:23 pm |
    • Scott

      Then why did they have to write their own Bible and create their own Messiah?

      June 21, 2012 at 10:35 pm |
  5. Smako

    Mormophobia is common. It brought about a death warrant sworn out upon all Mormons by Governor Boggs of Missouri back in the early days of the church. During a time of frontier justice where you could point out the man who killed your father, then have your father in the gallery tell you it was the one sitting next to him, and still get a murder conviction. Smith was tried and acquitted several times, only to die at the hands of a mob that attacked while he was in jail.
    People fear what they don't understand, God created man in his own image. Is man a free floating spirit without shape or body? If that is what you believe, then man is also.

    June 21, 2012 at 10:21 pm |
    • doodah

      Uh...you kind of forgot the wrecking and burning of several newspapers who were critics of Joseph Smith. That was the reason he was in jail, and there was the disappearance of several young women that got people a bit fired up, as well.

      June 21, 2012 at 10:29 pm |
  6. rick

    This guys dad ran for President?

    June 21, 2012 at 10:12 pm |
    • shep

      Mitt Romney's father was George Romney. He ran for president in 1968. He was born in Mexico. He was born there because the Romney family fled from Utah to avoid being jailed for practicing polygamy. true story.

      June 21, 2012 at 10:33 pm |
  7. David R. Scott

    I DO NOT CARE IF HE IS MORMON... HE IS A LYING, FLIP FLOPPING BIGOT! THAT IS WHY HE WON'T GET ELECTED. HE WILL SAY ANYTHING TO GET A VOTE.

    June 21, 2012 at 10:09 pm |
    • Smako

      I think that it is good that Obama has held on to his original campaign promises and never flip flopped. He has carried out all of his promises that he made when running for office and has never acted to deceive anyone.

      June 21, 2012 at 10:23 pm |
  8. shep

    Do a wiki search on Parley P. Pratt, Mitt Romney's great grandfather. You won't believe it. And then tell all your friends.

    June 21, 2012 at 10:08 pm |
    • Eric

      Shep, you are one ignorant person, that's all I have to say. You won't even say anything about Parley P. Pratt because you know it's a lie.

      June 21, 2012 at 10:10 pm |
  9. EdNv

    It is not bias against Mormons it is bias against Morons!

    June 21, 2012 at 10:06 pm |
    • Dan

      Dude. that's awesome. How did you do that? Did you, like, just take the middle "m" out of Mormon and then get moron? I have never heard of that before...

      June 21, 2012 at 10:11 pm |
    • nutmegrins

      You are too sweet EdNv!

      June 21, 2012 at 10:17 pm |
  10. Dr.X

    I'm not sure who's crazier, a black Mormon, a conservative black opinionator or a log cabin republican (who hopefully is celibate). Nobody in those groups actually wants them in their group but the appearance of diversity sells...

    June 21, 2012 at 10:05 pm |
    • not soooooo

      Well let's see... The KKK was started by the DEMOCRATS... don't believe check it out! It is not stretching the truth AT ALL.. So why are there black Democrats.

      June 21, 2012 at 10:09 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Idiot. Read history. The Democratic Party of today is not the Democratic Party of the 1850s, as you'd know if you had brain that was functional when you were in high school.

      June 21, 2012 at 10:11 pm |
    • MashaSobaka

      Not soooo, I have a secret for you: The political platforms of the Democrats before the 1940s were nearly identical to the political platforms of modern-day Republicans. It's awesome that you know how to recognize words. But a word does not define a political party. A set of philosophies and values does. The Democrats who started the KKK were a lot closer to Republicans. Sorry.

      June 21, 2012 at 10:12 pm |
    • not soooooo

      Looks like I hit a sore spot.

      June 21, 2012 at 10:14 pm |
    • not soooooo

      You just helped me with my point! Mormons of over 150 years ago are not the same either!

      June 21, 2012 at 10:15 pm |
    • Dan

      I don't know why there are blacks for Dems or Republicans. Neither party does much for them anyway.

      June 21, 2012 at 10:17 pm |
  11. sqeptiq

    Anyone who knows the history and beliefs of Mormons would never trust the judgement of a Mormon to run this country. I know many Mormons and like most of them; they are fine people. However, I cannot trust the thinking of anyone who buys the myths that are central to Mormon theology.

    June 21, 2012 at 10:02 pm |
    • Eric

      Wow, what a broad statement when you start saying "anyone."
      Whoever you are, you really don't know what you are talking about. Romney would make a fine president.

      June 21, 2012 at 10:09 pm |
    • not soooooo

      Do you trust people who believe a man built an ark with 2 of every animal while the world was flooded? Do you trust people who believe people turned into pillars of salt???

      June 21, 2012 at 10:12 pm |
    • loverpoint

      If you buy into a smidgen of the garbage they propagate on the show "Ancient Aliens" then you are ready to be recruited as a Mormon. Mormonism was started by a con man and a fraud and is a trait the Mormons hold dear to their heart. Mormon is nothing more than a Communal philosophy that protects their profits under the disguise of Religion.

      June 21, 2012 at 10:21 pm |
    • Dan

      I am Mormon but I have not profits to protect. Explain that one. And give me some cash while you are at it.

      June 21, 2012 at 10:23 pm |
    • Smako

      You cannot support anyone that believes what the Mormons believe, do you believe what the mainstream Christians believe? You believe the words written in Hebrews, Proverbs and Acts? How can you not believe what the Mormons believe, when mainstream Christians answer the questions about "work for the dead" by saying it is one of the great mysteries?

      June 21, 2012 at 10:27 pm |
  12. Alan Johnson

    I think it's a shame that anyone's religion should be a reason to vote against a candidate. I am not going to vote for Romney, but that is because I disagree with him on the issues. I also doubt his political sincerity, given his many reversals on the issues to satisfy the majority of Republican primary voters. When he softens his positions on those issues for the general election, I won't believe him either. One's religion, color, ethnicity or anything else should never be an issue in an American campaign. If I agreed with him on the issues, Romney's religion would not stop me from voting for him. I don't believe in the same things Mormon's do, but that is true of most of the world's religions..

    June 21, 2012 at 9:59 pm |
    • shep

      It's not a religion, it's a cult. Know the difference.

      June 21, 2012 at 10:04 pm |
    • Jay

      Remember when John F.Kennedy was judged becasue of his religion? He was a great president. In fact, Kennedy
      would be more like a Republican today, and more aligned with Romney. How sad Democrats are so extreme, now & probably more so than the extreme right. Remember Kennedy's saying "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country" If that would be applied today, we would not have a 16 trillion dollar debt, because we are looking more and more like Greece everyday.

      June 21, 2012 at 10:31 pm |
    • Pu Ping

      All religions are cults..with the exception of Scientology. Just kidding. It's also a cult. There is no difference between the two.

      June 21, 2012 at 10:32 pm |
  13. ReligiousIgnorance

    Hey ya know what, 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...It's fascinating.....fascinating I tell yas.

    June 21, 2012 at 9:57 pm |
    • not soooooo

      Yes and while your at it why don't you ask a Jewish person to teach you about Catholicism.

      June 21, 2012 at 9:59 pm |
    • ReligiousIgnorance

      @not sooooo, that is some weaksauce yo.

      June 21, 2012 at 10:02 pm |
    • Dan

      You might as well have Ahmadenejad teach you about Judaism (pssst: that's the President of Iran)

      June 21, 2012 at 10:06 pm |
    • ReligiousIgnorance

      Seriously, that is some really really weak thinking please stop.....you are hurting yourselves. It's recorded history. Check it out at UTLM. org and HOTM .tv. So clear......it'll wake you up.

      June 21, 2012 at 10:20 pm |
    • Smako

      Ignorance is deliberate illiteracy. Ignorance is a closed mind. Ignorance is ending a sentence with "yo."

      June 21, 2012 at 10:28 pm |
  14. HotAirAce

    American voters should not single out Morons as not worthy of their vote. They should determine which candidate's beliefs are the least wacko and vote for that person. Once a politician is elected, here is no telling what situations they will encounter or what they will actually do so it is best to have the clearest thinking, least delusional person in office.

    June 21, 2012 at 9:53 pm |
  15. Jules

    I don't beleive that the Mormon faith is a Christian faith since they don't believe Jesus was the main man – they think what Joseph Smith and Brigham Young had to say was much more improtant, but that's not why I won't vote for Romney. I won't vote for him because the man will and has said absolutely anything to be elected. Anyone who wants to be president so badly that he will lie about anything does not deserve anyone's vote.

    June 21, 2012 at 9:50 pm |
    • Dan

      I am not sure referring to Christ as the "main man" is the best way to characterize Him...

      June 21, 2012 at 9:57 pm |
    • not soooooo

      No Joseph Smith is a prophet just as Noah, Moses, Abraham etc.... WE DO NOT worship him, pray to him or think he is more important than OUR Savior, Jesus Christ. We believe a child with perfect faith ask Heavenly Father which church to join and he got an answer. That is hard to believe for some people yet many believe that a man was swallowed by a whale, parted the red sea etc...

      June 21, 2012 at 9:57 pm |
    • Bat

      I think you just described what a politician is in general. Just because the guy is Mormon you won't vote? It's actually silly if you think about it. Your Marines & soldiers didn't say they won't protect someone based on their religion. You're all Americans. & this is from a non-Mormon foreigner.

      June 21, 2012 at 9:59 pm |
    • peter

      not sooooo is the book of mormon the word of God–a false prophet, an anti-christ l, liar that man joeseph smith was–It would of been better for him not to have been born–Reject the religion of darkness and slavery that is mormonism–break free of the chains

      June 21, 2012 at 10:05 pm |
    • not soooooo

      Wow Peter get back on your meds!

      June 21, 2012 at 10:08 pm |
    • Ancient Curse

      not sooo - tell us about the Planet Kolab, spirit children, or Joseph Smith's magic hat. And tell us why blacks were denied entrance to the church until 1978. I'm curious about all of these things.

      June 21, 2012 at 10:09 pm |
    • Dan

      Blacks have never been denied entrance to the Church, ever. Get your facts straight before you spew forth untruths.

      June 21, 2012 at 10:13 pm |
  16. cgs

    All religions have weird stuff. Who cares? Romney/Rubio 2012!

    June 21, 2012 at 9:50 pm |
  17. Russian Federation

    Jesse Ventura for President of USA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! He will solve all your problems!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    June 21, 2012 at 9:44 pm |
  18. John The Electrician

    Has anyone ever seen a black mormon?

    June 21, 2012 at 9:43 pm |
    • Dan

      Have you ever lived anywhere but West Virginia?

      June 21, 2012 at 9:45 pm |
    • John

      John the electrician–Google Mia Love (GOP candidate from Utah).

      June 21, 2012 at 9:49 pm |
    • Bat

      I have. As a matter of fact, I have seen Mormons from all races. I'm from overseas, & when I came to the states I happened to come to Utah. Since I lived in their neighborhood, I got to know a lot about those guys. They're just like us, they got their good Mormons, & terrible ones. Weird thing is when I moved out of Utah to different state it surprised me how little other Americans know about Mormons. Which got me thinking it will be at least another long 200 years until you guys truly find out other religions like ... say Muslims. & no I'm not Mormon nor Muslim.

      June 21, 2012 at 9:52 pm |
    • not soooooo

      There are MANY... and one of them is Gladys Knight!

      June 21, 2012 at 10:03 pm |
    • not soooooo

      I have several black Mormon friends. My daughter's best friend is. People just love to preach hate. So much of it is spewed by people who don't know what they are talking about.

      June 21, 2012 at 10:05 pm |
    • Ancient Curse

      Were there any black Mormons before 1978? If so, where did they worship, since the church wouldn't allow them in?

      June 21, 2012 at 10:10 pm |
    • not soooooo

      Yes there were black before 1978... they just could not hold the priesthood. Why don't you look up how long it was before there were Black Catholic Priests.

      June 21, 2012 at 10:20 pm |
    • souptwins

      Ancient- yes there were black members before 1978 and I knew some. You are confusing being a member with holding the priesthood. Blacks have always been allowed to be members. J. Smith even is reported to have given the priesthood to a black man in the early years. No one's really sure why things changed after that. At the time of J. Smith's death, he was running for US Pres. and offered a plan that would free all slaves by 1850. Just how many people in most churches are allowed to hold the priesthood, anyway? Does it require attending a seminary or getting a college degree? Is that prejudice against those who don't?

      June 21, 2012 at 10:38 pm |
    • Jason Thomas

      Jabari Parker the number one high school recruit in the country is a black Mormon. They are very rare, but they are out there.

      June 21, 2012 at 10:42 pm |
  19. escher7

    I think it is higher. I recently read somewhere that only 78% would vote for a Mormon for Pres. That means 22% would not. This, coupled with Romney's waffling and obvious elitism will finish him. If the Republicans could have found a normal, impressive, non-doctrinaire leader they might have given Obama a run, but they just don't seem to have anyone. But then that is a reflection of the membership, especially the hard right T types.

    June 21, 2012 at 9:43 pm |
    • Ancient Curse

      Yea, the GOP is rallying around someone that a large portion of the GOP couldn't stand a year ago. Politics definitely makes for strange bedfellows.

      June 21, 2012 at 10:12 pm |
  20. robert

    @Dan, wow, if you call that logic then you really need to read another book. One that wasn't written by bronze age shepherds living in mud huts. I know, why don't you try a book on logic. Then you'll know what that word means and won't make such an id10t of yourself when you use it.

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

      One plus one does equal two, right?

      June 21, 2012 at 9:42 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.