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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. Jeb

    Mormonism was a cult in 1967 and is still a cult today.

    June 22, 2012 at 12:55 am |
    • Rick

      I agree.

      June 22, 2012 at 12:59 am |
    • Mormon Guy

      Jesus Christ and His followers were labeled a cult and were despied in their time (and He was ultimately killed by His haters). Jesus Christ Himself came to the boy Joseph Smith at age 14 (Joseph Smith didn't fabricate the visit, it really occured) and instructed/prepared him to restore His Church. If it is true that Christ himself was the author of this Church, then, you would be calling Christ's Church a cult and be repeating history all over again in modern times...I guess some things never change.

      June 22, 2012 at 2:02 am |
    • Just Claims, No Truth

      Yes Chistian beliefs are silly too...

      June 22, 2012 at 2:06 am |
  2. Rick

    Of all the religions, the Mormon religion has got to be the most absurd.These people actually believe that Jesus will return soon and set up his office in Missouri. Seriously. It's on the Church of the Later Day Saints website.

    June 22, 2012 at 12:55 am |
    • Mormon Guy

      Do you mean The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saint's website: http://www.lds.org?

      June 22, 2012 at 1:48 am |
  3. David

    I am Mormon. Born and raised Catholic in Ireland. I changed my religion to become a member of this faith by my own choice. I'm pretty much a normal guy living in California with my wife raising 4 kids and trying to do the best that I can.

    I read the angry comments from people on here and I wonder what it is that they are really scared of. Do I feel as though there is life after this. Yes. How does that hurt or offend you? Do I believe in Jesus Christ? Absolutely. How can someone tell me what I believe in or don't believe in.

    I work around a lot of people that have never even been around a Mormon. I don't try to convert them. I just live my life and contribute to society the best way I can. I have a lot of them that ask me questions about the church and I always just say that it makes me happy to try and live the best life I can and hope for more.

    To even suggest that I'm brainwashed is just ignorant. Who's brainwashing me? I'm making my own decisions. I don't judge any of you for the decisions you make. Feel free to make them. Just ask yourself why you hate my and my church so much? Why? I'm the guy that pulled over and offered to help you with your flat tire. I'm the guy that passed you in the store and said "hi". I'm the guy that you work with that offers to help. Why would you be so bigoted to me?

    I personally am not voting for Mitt Romney. I personally feel as though we are better off with Obama. BUT, if Mitt Romney is elected into office, please understand that he won't be working to advance his religious beliefs onto you. He will push his republican beliefs onto you and you have to choose whether you want that are not.

    Everyone of you believe in something that we all may say is crazy. Let me believe in what I believe in. Let every Jew believe in what they believe in. Let every Muslim believe in what they believe in. My God loves us all even if you don't love him.

    June 22, 2012 at 12:50 am |
    • Nate

      Nicely said. Thank you.

      June 22, 2012 at 12:55 am |
    • HotAirAce

      If a religious person from any cult can simply push their beliefs aside when they achieve high office, how sincerely or strongly held are those beliefs?

      If someone holds strong beliefs, beliefs that made them who they are, they do not or should not ignore them. If they do ignore them, they are liars or hypocrites.

      June 22, 2012 at 12:57 am |
    • Rick

      You seem like a nice guy. But do you have any empirical evidence to support any of your beliefs? I guess is, no.

      June 22, 2012 at 12:58 am |
    • yoga enthusiast

      I too am of a minority religion, but must say my religion does not go out and prostelize (sp?) and try to recruit new members. I have always found that LDS go in two's and knock on doors (many a time on my door) and try to discuss their religion with us. This is very offensive to me. I believe in the old testament and I believe strongly in religious freedom as long as it does not infringe on me. I find LDS does infringe on me. Also, seeing that foolish show on TV "sister wives" does not good for your religion. I would imagine that others think, as I do that pologomy (sp?) is hidden but still practiced. Sorry, I do not mean to offend, but I am presenting the facts as they appear to me.

      June 22, 2012 at 1:03 am |
    • college_student

      The Mormons I know try to live their religion. I trust them. But I can't trust Romney. He out and out lies. He represents his Faith how can he do so and how can the rest of his Faith community support him?

      June 22, 2012 at 1:03 am |
    • Jack Watcher

      Howya David? I am a Kerryman myself. I was saddened by you nice and eloquent post and here's why. Like you I was raised Catholic and when I became reasonable it made no sense. Not a bit of it. So I spent a number of years looking for what was missing. I am now seventy, almost seventy-one, and I have absolutely no belief in any of that guy in the sky stuff. I have come to see that all religion is for those that are afraid of the dark and unable to face life's mysteries and pain without the crutch of some belief system to get them through the tough parts. I am sorry that you freed yourself from the catholic church only to bury yourself in the cult of Mormonism. How about trying it on your own as a grown up. There is nothing to fear out there. I go forward in my remaing days filled with the joy of life and the love of humanity. No need for religion.

      June 22, 2012 at 1:10 am |
    • David

      Jack, this might be a first for a Kerryman to offer good advice to a Dub. Thanks for your genuine and thoughtful comment. All I can say to you is that I'm happy. I can't think of anything less "cultish" then my life. I am as free as any man you know. It's funny that it was in Tralee that I first started to really think about these things seriously. I met an older man and we talked about the purpose to life. He told me that he would die soon, go into the ground and worms would then take over. Nothing more, nothing less. I asked him if he was happy with that and ha said "no, who is happy with just ending." I agreed and I started to ask questions. There is no cult that I know that gives you access in and out of the door of the church as you will. There is guidance as to how to live...but it's my choice if I live it. I was baptized as a baby inthe catholic church because I had to be or I would have the sin of Adam on me forever. I was baptized as a Mormon years later because I wanted to be. I'm 35 years old, happy, comfortable, in love with my wife, cherish my kids and do what I can to help those around me. If that is a cult then I'm screwed because I have a lot of people looking for what I have. Jack, you sound happy, content and wise. Thanks for your concern, honestly. But don't feel bad for any of us Mormons. We know what we are doing and choose to live life as you would. With no regrets and eyes looking forward.

      June 22, 2012 at 1:29 am |
  4. whybs on twitter

    Christianity = Judaism = Islam = Mormonism = POS! Just ask the dead pharaohs. They know! 🙂

    June 22, 2012 at 12:45 am |
  5. Spencer

    Joseph Smith: It seems as though the adversary was aware, at a very early period of my life, that I was destined to prove a disturber and an annoyer of his kingdom, else why should the powers of darkness combine against me? Why the opposition and persecution that arose against me, almost in my infancy?

    My friends, this statement is alive and true even in this CNN comment section.

    June 22, 2012 at 12:44 am |
    • Just Claims, No Truth

      Joseph Smith was a fraud and a snake oil salesman.

      June 22, 2012 at 12:55 am |
    • Jeb

      Joseph Smith was persecuted for being a total and complete fraud.

      Find those "god tablets" yet?

      No, didn't think so.

      Maybe you should check planet Kolob?

      June 22, 2012 at 12:58 am |
    • HotAirAce

      All religious leaders are charlatans and snake oil salesmen!

      June 22, 2012 at 12:58 am |
    • Mormon Guy

      If you were visited by Jesus Christ and God The Father...then later visited by John the Baptist (he who baptized Jesus Christ), then Peter, James and John (the lead Apostles of the Ancient Church), then Moses, Elijah and many other of the great prophets of ancient days, I think you wouldn't really care if people labeled you crazy or kookie...you would do what you were instructed to do by your Maker and all of His great Apostles and Prophets. Joseph Smith didn't go looking to organized a Church, he was chosen (just as Paul was chosen) for the great work of laying the foundation of the restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ (in the Latter Days). The moment he was visited by The Father and The Son, he was hated, persecuted and ultimately killed as has always been the pattern and fate of those called upon to further God's work upon this earth.

      June 22, 2012 at 1:16 am |
    • Just Claims, No Truth

      Joseph Smith went looking for people to scam.... And he found them in spades. If you think all those people visited him you are a dolt. Have you always been gullible?

      June 22, 2012 at 1:20 am |
    • Just Claims, No Truth

      And Peter Pan, and Glenda the Good Witch, and The Hulk, and Paul Bunyen, and Capt. Kirk and.....

      June 22, 2012 at 1:23 am |
    • Mormon Guy

      You left out my favorites, Snow White and Hansel & Gretel...don't rip me off that way, please!

      June 22, 2012 at 1:55 am |
    • Just Claims, No Truth

      You can make them up yourself, Joeseph Smith did....

      June 22, 2012 at 2:09 am |
  6. Spencer

    Joseph Smith: "If I esteem mankind to be in error, shall I bear them down? No. I will lift them up, and in their own way too, if I cannot persuade them my way is better; and I will not seek to compel any man to believe as I do, only by the force of reasoning, for truth will cut its own way."

    June 22, 2012 at 12:43 am |
    • Just Claims, No Truth

      Making sh!t up is not reasoning.

      June 22, 2012 at 12:57 am |
  7. John Tighe

    I'd prefer an Atheist to a Mormon.

    June 22, 2012 at 12:39 am |
    • HotAirAce

      Finally, someone who see the light!

      June 22, 2012 at 12:42 am |
    • rational minnesota

      Perhaps an ironic reply, but...
      AMEN!!!

      June 22, 2012 at 12:46 am |
    • vulpecula

      When you see an atheist in the White House, you'll be able to say prejudice of all kind is finally coming to an end. Totally because atheists are the LAST person in the world most would ever want to see elected.

      June 22, 2012 at 12:50 am |
    • TR Smith

      I'd prefer a retarded pony to Obama.

      June 22, 2012 at 1:05 am |
    • HotAirAce

      So your order of preference is 1) retarded pony 2) Obama 3) Mittens?

      June 22, 2012 at 1:22 am |
  8. Dickie

    Please educate yourselves on the fantastical weirdness that is Mormonism. If a person can truly believe this stuff, they can be made to believe anything. This is the craziest cult of all cults, and they are steps away from the Presidency. Very scary indeed.

    June 22, 2012 at 12:39 am |
    • TR Smith

      Well, Dickie, if you think Mormon's are weird you have extraordinarily limited knowledge of the world around you. Life is difficult, it's more difficult when you're stupid.

      June 22, 2012 at 12:49 am |
    • vulpecula

      Wouldn't say they were the crazest of the razy. Have you forgotten Scientology?

      June 22, 2012 at 12:51 am |
    • Mormon Guy

      You know, that's what the believing public 2000 years ago said about Jesus Christ...that he led a cult. Just be real careful how you sling the term around, you may be slinging it at Christ's Church again...just a repeat act. He, Jesus Christ did personally appear to Joseph Smith in 1820 to restore the Church called the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (nicknamed the Mormons).

      June 22, 2012 at 12:54 am |
    • HotAirAce

      Ok, Mormon Guy, prove that the idol of your cult, and the christian cult in general (see, I'm not the least bit afraid of your bogey man!), appeared 2000+ years ago, more recently to Smith or to anyone at all. I don't believe you have a single bit of factual, independent, verifiable or objective evidence that there are any gods, including the dude you call jesus. If you do, you would be the first person ever, so go ahead and make history.

      June 22, 2012 at 1:14 am |
    • Mormon Guy

      Hot Air (by the way, I love your name!! 🙂 , not even Jesus Christ attempted to prove who He was and is. Jesus Christ said that only if a man were to live the Father's teachings would a man know that what He asks of us is true and He really exists. In other words, he specifically set it up so that it would require you to exercise faith to come to know the Truth...completely at odds with factual, independent, verifiable or objective evidence. The beauty of it is when you receive a witness from Him (the one who made you) it leaves an indelible print on your soul that cannot be erased and you know as well as you know the Sun shines each day that something is true...it is verified and the most beautiful and truest sense...it is undeniable.

      June 22, 2012 at 1:25 am |
    • Dickie

      Thanks Mormon Guy for proving the point of my post. Scientology is weird, but almost comically weird, and nobody outside of Hollywood takes it seriously. But Mormonism? A scary and powerful cult bent on infiltrating government at all levels and influencing politics nationwide. Kind of like Islam with nice haircuts and white teeth.

      June 22, 2012 at 1:28 am |
    • HotAirAce

      The name is from an entirely different hobby. I use it here to amuse and distract those with nothing to say. While I do appreciate the politeness of your post, let me summarize it: you have no proof of anything you or your cult claims.

      June 22, 2012 at 1:38 am |
    • Mormon Guy

      Dickie: Also don't forget, if we keep up having roughly 3-5 kids per family, it may take a few thousand years but before you know it, there will be hundreds of millions of white shirts, ties, name tags, tons of SUVs and happy smiley people everywhere you turn. If Donny and Marie wasn't enough to drive you to drink, this will be enough for you to find another one of the planets everyone says we talk about for you to live on.

      June 22, 2012 at 1:42 am |
    • Mormon Guy

      HotAir, I don't know what it is about you but I think we would get along pretty well if we were co-workers or something. I like your directness. To the point.

      June 22, 2012 at 1:44 am |
  9. char

    CNN sure loves judging Christians and mormons but whenever anyone crizes Radical islm they have a spazm over it.. Thats a big no no

    June 22, 2012 at 12:33 am |
    • bam

      and u cry.... all religions are nutty along with the believers

      June 22, 2012 at 12:36 am |
    • Evangelical

      You are correct, but also, have you ever seen CNN portray atheists and ho-mos-exuals in anything but a positive light?

      June 22, 2012 at 12:37 am |
    • skytag

      Thanks, I needed a good fairytale.

      June 22, 2012 at 12:38 am |
    • HotAirAce

      Christians look like fools because they are always doing foolish things and often get caught ignoring there own cult's rules. CNN is only reporting the news – if christians don't want to be in the news, quit doing silly things.

      June 22, 2012 at 12:39 am |
    • Maighe

      Let's see, radical Islamic presidential candidates, uh, that would be, uh, well, okay there isn't any, so you really have no point other that maybe just trying to divert attention from the fact that Romney looks like a muppet whose puppeteers are struggling with early recovery.

      June 22, 2012 at 12:40 am |
  10. Evangelical

    I would prefer that the GOP candidate be someone like Santorum, but Romney is our best hope to stem the tide of secularism that is destroying this country.

    June 22, 2012 at 12:32 am |
    • KYgelical

      Well I'd prefer Christine O'Donnell dressed in a skin tight witch costume proving that she actually is a witch with a passion for tantric kink. Not as a president, just as a very weird one nighter.

      June 22, 2012 at 12:37 am |
    • Just Claims, No Truth

      I bet Eve would lick up some Santorum!

      June 22, 2012 at 12:45 am |
    • skytag

      Romney is running for president, not theologian in chief.

      June 22, 2012 at 1:40 am |
  11. Shayna

    I don't think anyone who believes he's going become a god & to get his own planet & then fill it with spirit children should hold public office - except in his own personal asylum!

    June 22, 2012 at 12:32 am |
    • HotAirAce

      Thinking that you can become a god is no more strange than believing there are gods – even just one. There is no proof that either is possible.

      June 22, 2012 at 12:41 am |
    • beezers

      Yeah, we sure are better off with someone who already thinks he's a god than someone who wants to be a better person each day trying to become more like a god.

      June 22, 2012 at 1:06 am |
  12. iamcochese

    @TRSITH – actually, sir, the fact that a person MUST purport to believe in fairy tales – such as the Bible – in order to get elected to office in this country is the real problem here.
    It is precisely because over half of the people in this country are complete idiots and believe that they will see there pets in heaven, that an atheist would never be elected to the Presidency; even though all of our founding fathers held organized religion in complete contempt – as it should be.
    If you think believing that the "word of god" was written on golden plates founded 100 years ago in New York State and that Jesus will ride to glory in clouds above Missouri wearing magic underwear is something that should not be ridiculed and mocked, you can go ahead and Stick a fork in this country, it's done.
    I only wish I could see the day when an elected official tells the poor sheeple of this land that God is a fairy tale for people afraid of the dark.

    June 22, 2012 at 12:31 am |
    • TR Smith

      Well, You are in No Way Cochese, so your fantasy is no less weird than what you claim Mormon's are. Living by some other ethnic groups fantasy world is even more childish and disreputable than you claim everyone else is. Grow up little boy, before you fall into a deep well of nonsense.

      June 22, 2012 at 12:52 am |
  13. shep

    Religious belief is fine. Cult belief is not.

    June 22, 2012 at 12:27 am |
    • Greyhound37

      I fail to see a difference between the two.

      June 22, 2012 at 12:28 am |
    • Greyhound37

      One has more members and is tax exempt?

      June 22, 2012 at 12:29 am |
    • whybs on twitter

      every religion started out as a cult, bozo!

      June 22, 2012 at 12:35 am |
    • TR Smith

      And why would anyone rely on Shep the dog to determine what is a cult and what is a religion? Shep is just a hateful little miniature poodle that is caught up in his own self non-importance.

      June 22, 2012 at 12:39 am |
    • rational minnesota

      All religious belief IS cult belief – just a matter of how old and how silly. Mormonism is fairly young and very silly.
      Golden plates? Reformed Egyptian? Translation via magic rocks? C'mon. Really?
      Abrahamic faiths are older and just as silly. Talking snake? Two of EVERY creature on a boat? Burning, talking shrubs? Really?

      June 22, 2012 at 12:44 am |
    • Just Claims, No Truth

      The only difference between a cult and religion is the number of followers.

      June 22, 2012 at 12:51 am |
    • vulpecula

      Maybe we should slaughter a goat and read it's entrails to make decisions. If it was good enough for them in 50AD, it should be good enough for the theists now.

      June 22, 2012 at 12:59 am |
  14. Lee

    It's just a 19th century version of Scientology... just as fruity, even more of a con, but with theological racism and magic underpants included.

    June 22, 2012 at 12:24 am |
  15. adrifter

    Religion can even dring down someone as brilliant as Stephen Colbert. See the internview on tonight's show with a scientist daring to reject the existence of god. Especially note Stephen's book toss at the end of the show. Didn't seem to be an act this time. Very disappointing.

    June 22, 2012 at 12:24 am |
  16. R.A.

    Back in 1967, most people thought Mormonism was a cult and that they had weird beliefs. Now with such a greater access to information, we know they are brainwashed out of their minds. Of course no one would vote for a mormon. A Catholic at least has thousands of years and many translations shrouding their past, so that seems far less insane, but Mormonism is so much more obviously fake, and the creation of it so poorly executed.

    June 22, 2012 at 12:22 am |
    • lily

      Oh.... good to know I'm brainwashed, I'll keep that in mind....

      Thanks for being so concerned about us!! But really, don't waste your energy, I'm very happy where I am. Good family, good home, good education, good religion that is not crazy or insane. All of you people on blogs just think it is because you do not know anything about it (except what the blogs tell you!)

      June 22, 2012 at 1:47 am |
  17. slim johnny

    I live in utah and am non-mormon. I see the choice as you can either vote for a mormon.....or satan.

    June 22, 2012 at 12:21 am |
    • shep

      Put down the crack pipe. Really

      June 22, 2012 at 12:25 am |
    • Bullwhacker

      So you're basic point is that Mormons let morons live in Utah too, as long as they are stupid and racist and conservative (oops – that was a triple redundancy)?

      June 22, 2012 at 12:25 am |
  18. shep

    Do a wiki search on Mark Hofmann. You won't believe it.

    June 22, 2012 at 12:18 am |
  19. kerfluffle

    For Sale: A full set of golden plates, found under a rock in New York State. Local and state taxes will be applied at the time of purchase. Elohim are not welcome. Better act fast before they disappear!

    June 22, 2012 at 12:04 am |
    • Greyhound37

      This is a limited time offer, folks!
      Act now and we'll throw in this beautiful 14th century death shroud, only used one and believed to have mystical powers!
      We'll also throw in a case of bottled holy water – good for rehydration after running an exorcist marathon!

      June 22, 2012 at 12:43 am |
    • souptwins

      I just visited the site of these events last week and have a different take on it. If J. Smith was actually called of God and asked to translate ancient writings from golden plates, would God allow them to be found by those who came and ransacked his home and property many times in search of them before the task was completed? Would God use the Holy Ghost to warn J. Smith that a mob was coming and inspire him to move them so they wouldn't be found? Could the real value be in the translated message about Jesus Christ rather than the gold? How many eye witnesses are necessary in a court of law to determine a case? Would 3 be enough? How about 8 or 11?

      June 22, 2012 at 1:31 am |
  20. Objective

    Religion and politics don't mix. We have a country fully of mixes yet we are still so divided.

    June 22, 2012 at 12:03 am |
    • kerfluffle

      we are divided primarily BECAUSE of religion.

      June 22, 2012 at 12:07 am |
    • TR Smith

      So basically you are saying that only Atheists should be allowed to be in politics? Anyone with a religious belief should be barred? How communist of you.

      June 22, 2012 at 12:12 am |
    • skytag

      Don't be silly. For most people their political beliefs are a religion.

      June 22, 2012 at 1:41 am |
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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.