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. LT

    Joseph Smith, the founder of the Mormons, was an occultist. The Mormons teach and preach a perverted Gospel. They do not acknowledge the true Deity of Christ. The Book of Mormon is the false doctrine that Paul spoke of in the epistles of the King James Holy Bible, the Word of God.

    June 22, 2012 at 6:38 am |
  2. Reality

    Bottom line: Romney is Mormon because he was born/"brainwashed" Mormon. Should we hold this against him?

    After all, BO also believes in "pretty/ugly wingie thingies, bodily resurrections and atonement mumbo jumbo.

    One should be voting based on rational thinking. Believing in angels, satans, bodily resurrections, atonement, and heavens of all kinds is irrational.

    Apparently, BO and MR have been severely brainwashed in their theologically and historically flawed Christianity and they are too weak to escape its felonious grip.

    June 22, 2012 at 6:36 am |
    • Reality

      “John Hick, a noted British philosopher of religion, estimates that 95 percent of the people of the world owe their religious affiliation to an accident (the randomness) of birth. The faith of the vast majority of believers depends upon where they were born and when. Those born in Saudi Arabia will almost certainly be Moslems, and those born and raised in India will for the most part be Hindus. Nevertheless, the religion of millions of people can sometimes change abruptly in the face of major political and social upheavals. In the middle of the sixth century ce, virtually all the people of the Near East and Northern Africa, including Turkey, Syria, Iraq, and Egypt were Christian. By the end of the following century, the people in these lands were largely Moslem, as a result of the militant spread of Islam.

      The Situation Today
      Barring military conquest, conversion to a faith other than that of one’s birth is rare. Some Jews, Moslems, and Hindus do convert to Christianity, but not often. Similarly, it is not common for Christians to become Moslems or Jews. Most people are satisfied that their own faith is the true one or at least good enough to satisfy their religious and emotional needs. Had St. Augustine or St. Thomas Aquinas been born in Mecca at the start of the present century, the chances are that they would not have been Christians but loyal followers of the prophet Mohammed. “ J. Somerville

      It is very disturbing that religious narrow- mindedness, intolerance, violence and hatred continues unabated due to randomness of birth. Maybe, just maybe if this fact would be published on the first page of every newspaper every day, that we would finally realize the significant stupidity of all religions.

      June 22, 2012 at 6:37 am |
  3. HowieInBrissie

    Betcha the percentage of voters who would not vote for a Muslim would be higher. However, that never seems to be polled in the US of A. BTW if Barack "Hussein" Obama is secretly a Muslim as alleged by a few on the right fringe, he's a secular one because he both drinks alcohol and eats pork.

    June 22, 2012 at 6:29 am |
    • danabashed

      The ignorance of Americans is past description as being amazing. It is horrifying the amount of fools that suck up oxygen on a daily basis in this country. As one writer here posts more fools in this country would vote for a Muzlim that would destroy them than a person of the Mormon faith. Makes me want to go to live on another planet. If possible I would like to live out my final days without the misery of ignorance around me prevaliing in the United States....I never knew that America could sink so fast in such a mere 50 years!

      June 22, 2012 at 6:38 am |
    • peter

      dana–mormons and muslims are not christians. Whoever is elected we will survive.-I just don't vote for muslims or mormons. Btw, if you don't like it go move–im staying right here in the good old u.s.a

      June 22, 2012 at 6:45 am |
  4. Leeroy

    Absolutely amazing how scared so many are of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. So many are so closed minded they can't look at Romney and see what he has accomplished in his life and see that he is clearly the best candidate for President of the U.S.. Even more amazing is that people will vote for Obabma again after his performance over the past 3 years. Romney has demonstrated that he can seperate Church and State. Why can't the voters?

    June 22, 2012 at 6:15 am |
    • peter

      No one is sacred of mormons anymore than we are scared of scientologists. Mormons deserve our sympathy and help. With that said just because we(republicans) are not voting for the mormon doesn't mean we will be voting for obumo,hardly. We will–atleast i will–wait till 2016

      June 22, 2012 at 6:18 am |
    • Leeroy

      Yeah, we clearly need your sympathy and help. Brother. And choosing not to vote is like choosing to shoot yourself in the foot to teach a lesson. Yup, this country is destined to get what we vote for.

      June 22, 2012 at 6:23 am |
    • peter

      leeroy–thats right–and i did vote–i voted for santorum whom you people trashed and lied as a "liberal' during the primary.

      June 22, 2012 at 6:28 am |
    • Leeroy

      Peter, Santorum is a good man trying to do what's right. But he's not yet Presidential. As for your sitting out this next election, that is no way to serve this country. Why don't you take a look at how much of a factor The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints played in Romey's success to this point in his life and ask yourself how that will suddenly change should he become President. The reality is that he has seperated the two and he will continue to do so.

      June 22, 2012 at 6:34 am |
    • peter

      Are you insane man? The book of mormon,another testament of jesus christ is not the word of God. To make such claims is blasphemy. I thank my lucky stars i am not romney nor one of his sons. Mormons are cursed even to the 7th generation. Wether romney is elected president or not will never change that.

      June 22, 2012 at 6:40 am |
    • danabashed


      June 22, 2012 at 6:40 am |
    • noteabags

      I'm well aware of what Romney has accomplished: Romney got rich by rigging the system. He made millions in part by loading companies with debt, driving them into bankruptcy, and laying off their workers. The workers who lost their jobs had their health benefits canceled as well—but Romney and his partners made millions.

      June 22, 2012 at 6:40 am |
    • danabashed

      @peter below...you will not be around to vote in 2016. You will have probably had your head severed by one of your new muzlim neighbors! If you can't get past voting for a good man like Romney that visibly has a good and devoted wife....(every good man has a good wife behind him), then you are doomed to die of ignorance!

      June 22, 2012 at 6:43 am |
  5. jone

    So all the efforts by the liberal media to make the number higher has failed then.

    June 22, 2012 at 6:06 am |
  6. Jonline

    I am not uncomfortable with a Mormon being at high levels within the country. I am oddly uncomfortable with a religious Mormon being President. I have a basic understanding of Mormonism and I don't need my government to be controlled from Salt Lake City or to have a President who walks into a Templet that I cannot follow him into. It feels wrongs.

    June 22, 2012 at 6:02 am |
    • Leeroy

      People felt the same way about Kennedy and his religion. Funny how people will vote for 4 more years of Obama because of a fear of a man's religion. So much for seperation of Church and State. Everyone is willing to make religion and issue in this election . . . but can't imagine discussing the religious aspect of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Well, we'll get what we deserve in the next election.

      June 22, 2012 at 6:20 am |
  7. Bart

    This article is another example of cnn efforts to make a non-issue an issue. Only the liberal media thinks religious denomination is very important. Why don't they ask for bias against Muslims which Obama 'leans' toward? Oops, Obama said he's Christian, but only goes to church when prodded. He can't go to a mosque because almost no one will vote for him if he does.

    June 22, 2012 at 5:57 am |
    • Birther

      Yes and Kenya wasn't even a country back in 1961 but that doesn't stop the ignorant brain f a r t s from flowing....Welcome to Trollville....

      June 22, 2012 at 6:02 am |
    • peter

      bart–this has nothing to do with obumo or the liberal media. First off, mormonism is not a denomination of christendom and second this all has to do with we nominated the wrong guy. .tELL YOU WHAT BART–YOU GET IN YOUR CAR AND VOTE FOR THE MORMON IN NOV–ILL BE ON THE BEACH-sorry for the caps

      June 22, 2012 at 6:03 am |
  8. Paul Wilson

    Romney will not get my vote because he is a Republican. This party doies not represent MY views in the political spectrum. They even go so far as to stamp on them. As for the anti-Mormon bias – well, I was turned off by Mormonism back in 1967 and that;'s been my feeling ever since. Nothing has happened to change how I feel. !

    June 22, 2012 at 5:48 am |
    • peter

      This republican will be sitting out the gen election because he is a mormon. The article says 10 percent but it is much higher. Just consider me the 10 percent. I'll vote for romney if he gets on his knees on the camera and repents and rejects the evil religion of his fathers.

      June 22, 2012 at 5:52 am |
  9. Schadenfreudean Psychologist

    Thankfully, "bias" is not the same thing as "prejudice." People can have a bias, pro or con, based on the most fair and principled consideration of a person's beliefs and positions on the issues. (I probably have the same bias against either becoming or voting for a Mormon as I might against becoming mentally ill or sticking a screwdriver in my brain.)

    June 22, 2012 at 5:17 am |
    • Damien

      I believe we all have our different beliefs and faiths, but that being said, I dont know if i'm as comfortable with the idea of a Mormon president as much as a senator or other political offices. Your thoughts and beleifs guide you, and there are so many things layers to the mormon faith that people don't know about, and if you're the president you're in charge of all of us, those who are religious and those who chose not to be. I can't possibly see how someone who's faith naturally gravitates away from the desires of the median populace could stay anywhere but firmly skewed to the right.

      June 22, 2012 at 5:30 am |
  10. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things.

    June 22, 2012 at 5:16 am |
    • Jack Spitz

      Total nonsense. A few years ago, stupid religious people had a prayer chain around the country to keep the first satellite from falling; massive praying. Guess what happened? There is not a bit of evidence that praying does anything but keep stupid people stupid, clinging t to myths that only fools and uneducated people believe: virgin birth, dead people rising up to ascend to upstate New York to help out the Romney's. Romney has many wives; why else would he need four houses? As stupid as Mormonism is, it is in accord with the other religions in that it depends on myths and subterfuge to keep the religious ideologues happy. Religion is dangerous to all living and nonliving things. Destroy it!

      June 22, 2012 at 5:40 am |
    • Fantasy Island

      Fantasy Island is worse.....

      June 22, 2012 at 6:04 am |
  11. Cheryl

    Oh and I am not ignorant about the tenets of the Church of Latter Day Saints. I have read extensively of their beliefs written by their members in good standing.

    June 22, 2012 at 4:52 am |
    • Jack Spitz

      How about the ines not in good standing? These seem to have better lives; many wives and much s*x, which is what Mormonism is all about you recall.

      June 22, 2012 at 5:42 am |
  12. Cheryl

    Mormons regard non Mormons as "Gentiles" and "beasts of the field". Non Mormons will not be part of the "Celestial Kingdom", their marriages are not valid as they have not been "eternally sealed" to each other in a Mormon temple. Belonging to this sect is not the same as being a Baptist, Lutheran, Methodist, even Roman Catholic. Mitt Romney I am sure has a temple recommend and all that that entails. I will not vote for him.

    June 22, 2012 at 4:49 am |
    • qwert

      And how exactly is this different form the "traditional" catholic sects viewing just about anyone from jews to muslims to atheists or any other religion/belief as godless heathens that will spend eternity in hellfire for not accepcting jesus?

      June 22, 2012 at 5:14 am |
    • Jack Spitz

      Romney has four houses and at least four wives; takes after his grandfather but short of wives Grat grandfather had about 100 I have been told. It seems that Romney has 78 children by 31 different wives over time.

      June 22, 2012 at 5:45 am |
  13. 66Biker

    But there aren't any "well-qualified Mormons" running for President. There's just Mitt the Twit.

    June 22, 2012 at 3:54 am |
  14. Randelius

    Wow- welcome to the CNN comments page where level-headed comments are shouted down in unison by the same ignorant anti-mormon bigots the actual article is talking about! Gotta love the irony here.

    June 22, 2012 at 3:45 am |
    • Big Munny

      I c onsider Mormons the bigoted ones. I would never vote for anyone who believes my dear mother and all my kin were cursed by God. The Klan promoted similar drivel.

      June 22, 2012 at 4:24 am |
    • Jack Spitz

      Hope the bias results in people not voting for him; I have it on good authority is that the first thing he will do when he is president is propose a law making multiple wives legal, and all the children can get welfare.

      June 22, 2012 at 5:47 am |
  15. Andrew Koch

    Huntsman is a Morman and I would vote for him. Its the fact that character counts and Romney is a hypocrite.

    June 22, 2012 at 2:45 am |
  16. katolungile

    Replace the word "mormon" w/ "black" and CNN would have this on the front page in big bold print.... Wall to wall CNN shows about the topic.

    June 22, 2012 at 2:32 am |
    • Brilliant

      It was on the front page.

      June 22, 2012 at 2:39 am |
    • HotAirAce

      And discussed on Fox News too!

      June 22, 2012 at 2:41 am |
    • Reality

      Mormons bias against Black presidential candidate unchanged since 1967, poll finds...

      They are sooooo piiissssssssseeeed off that a son of Cain is in the White House...

      June 22, 2012 at 3:01 am |
    • Reality

      Not from teh original Reality.

      June 22, 2012 at 6:41 am |
  17. Jesus was a hunchback

    But he can use his magic underwear to solve all our problems!

    June 22, 2012 at 2:22 am |
  18. And Now For The First Time Ever! Mitt Romney's New Campaign Slogan ! ! !

    "Mitt Romney: White and Delightsome"

    June 22, 2012 at 2:19 am |
  19. leon

    the point is still romney will have the lowest turnout of evangelical voters since falwell took over the republican party. fully 40% of evangelicals will not vote for a Mormon. when you consider that this is the largest repub voting block by far, its over before it even started, they will not vote for obama but they will stay home. the news media will not truly point this out because they dont want to offend. the race would have been over by now if not fot the positive, glowing press shows like morning joe have given romney.

    June 22, 2012 at 2:17 am |
    • Romney is a political zombie - walking around, but dead dead dead

      Romney's doom is based on the fact that his religion is most repugnant to his own side. He needs the moderate independants to have any chance of winning, but he also needs the religious right, and courting one alienates the other. Courting the religious right is actually a double failure because not only does that lose the moderates, but the religious right will never accept a Mormon. Courting the moderates will just further alienate the right, which seems him as a RINO ofrom a strange cult. Romney cannot actively court any faction without losing total votes.

      Romney is doomed. His only chance is a major economic downturn which would hurt Obama. And even then, NOBODY actually believes Romeny has even the slightest clue or ability to improve the economy.

      Dead candidate walking.

      June 22, 2012 at 2:28 am |
  20. HZ

    I have no bias towards mormon, in fact, I'm jealous about mormon leaders private life style 🙂 must be sooooo cool to have multiple wives lol

    June 22, 2012 at 2:10 am |
    • Jack Spitz

      Yes! Romney has at least four wives to go with his four houses; and he will allow all of us to have four wives once he is president. Vote twice for him.

      June 22, 2012 at 5:51 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.