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. joe schmo

    I'm a converted Mormon BUT I don't think Romney is a good fit for President. He claims he is just like the average guy but how can someone will millions claim to be like the average person making $35,000 yr.? You can't. Just because he's Mormon don't assume ALL Mormons agree with his style of thinking, if you will.

    I don't.

    June 22, 2012 at 9:12 am |
    • Little tommy

      Obama is worth 10.8 million, does that make him more in touch..I dont think so.

      June 22, 2012 at 9:16 am |
    • kerfluffle

      This isn't about Obama.

      June 22, 2012 at 10:31 am |
    • Luisana

      Here area few Book of Mormon verses that begin to deicsrbe what happens in this musical. Yea, even the very God of Israel do men trample under their feet; I say, trample under their feet but I would speak in other words — they set him at naught, and hearken not to the voice of his counsels And the world, because of their iniquity, shall judge him to be a thing of naught; wherefore they scourge him, and he suffereth it; and they smite him, and he suffereth it. Yea, they spit upon him, and he suffereth it, because of his loving kindness and his long-suffering towards the children of men. (1 Nephi 19:7, 9) And they did not come unto Jesus with broken hearts and contrite spirits, but they did curse God (Mormon 2:14)

      September 7, 2012 at 10:50 am |
  2. boehnersux

    I'm opposed to voting for a snobbish, rich, Republican, who is so far out of touch it's incredible anyone would consider him.

    June 22, 2012 at 9:11 am |
    • Little tommy

      Every candidate is rich and out of touch, that includes Obama.. I may be wrong, but i believe I read that Obama is worth 10.8 million...I would think he is quite out of touch with the rest of us also.

      June 22, 2012 at 9:15 am |
  3. Dave

    Come on guys, you are being WAY too hard on Mormons... I mean, the sacred texts were found on rocks and read from a hat... show some respect. I know there is a difficult history of plural marriages, pedophilia, and straight up slaughter of Native Americans, but seriously, cut them some slack... I mean, again, I say.. MAGIC ROCKS... FROM A HAT... now THAT is divine authority if I've ever heard it so don't be so hard on them.

    Besides, if there is one thing the LDS Church is good at, it is chucking the tenants of their 'religion' to the roadside whenever it is politically uncomfortable ala 'What's that you say? Utah can't become a state while we still practice Polygamy? Well, uh... a new divine revelation just hit... uh... um... no more Polygamy' (good timing right before that statehood vote and all... I guess God watches the polls and issued a new proclamation or something). It doesn't even have to be major things... take the caffeine thing, a sin... until some wealthy Mormons ended up owning a crapton of Pepsi co.... then it all becomes about how in moderation caffeine isn't bad after all... They even made an effort to get rid of that whole racism thing in the their religion after the civil rights movement. Maybe someday they might even get around to something like gender equality...

    Seriously, it is a clearly defined pattern. So don't worry about it. If there is anything you find objectionable, weird, or uncomfortable, the grand Poobahs in Salt Like will just have another convenient divine revelation about it before the election.

    I realize I was a little harsh here, I grew up in the southwest, and I have known a LOT of Mormons. In truth, they honestly do tend to be really nice people. They have a focus on family and community that they have a right to be proud of. But I am sorry, I consider their 'religion' a joke created by a con man and perpetuated, comically, in the 21st century. Or to phrase another way, I like and respect a lot of Mormons as people, but I have less than zero respect for their religion.

    June 22, 2012 at 9:09 am |
    • BU2B

      Yes their faith is silly, but no more so than any other religion.

      June 22, 2012 at 9:12 am |
    • Jen

      And any of the other organized religions are any more believable?

      June 22, 2012 at 9:18 am |
    • Dave

      Oh, I fully agree that we can point a finger and most religions and say similar things. But, to me, the recent history of magic tablets, rocks, hats, talking lizards etc. has this particular religion in the realm of ridiculous. Or comical. Magic underwear being a good example. Hey, it's your right to wear it if you want, but it's my right to find it ridiculous and.. well... funny. Add to that their history of racism, discrimination etc (thankfully most of which truly HAS improved radically) up to and including full on genocidal policies towards the Native people of the area (they liked to slaughter Native Americans, Men, women, and Children, then rewrite what happened after the fact, blame the Indians, and man, wanna see an angry Mormon? Watch an archaeologist contradict any of their fairy tales... including some of these 'indian battles')

      So I am not a fan of organized religion in general. But this one in particular is definitely a little further 'out there' than most currently, and I believe it is my right to find their history and early tenants of their church straight up repugnant and offensive. My distaste of Mormonism wasn't born of ignorance, but of growing up in areas with lots of them around and gradually learning more.

      And, like I said, as acerbic as I sound in these posts, I do feel kinda bad about it too. I've known Mormons I would call 'friend', known some seriously good people that happened to be Mormons. I don't think joining the LDS church makes some glassy eyed evil cult member or anything.

      But I have no respect for this religion.

      June 22, 2012 at 9:36 am |
  4. oxbobend

    IF you can believe some of the crazy crap Mormons believe, then you must still believe in Santa.

    June 22, 2012 at 9:03 am |
    • joe schmo

      So the crap you believe in is far better just because?

      June 22, 2012 at 9:09 am |
    • Little tommy

      What?? Theres no Santa Clause....you b@stard.!!!!

      June 22, 2012 at 9:12 am |
    • CuervoJones

      how does joeschmo know if oxbobend believes in any religions?

      September 7, 2012 at 10:59 am |
  5. Vince

    I wouldn't be surprised if the percentage that doesn't know he's a Mormon also believe Obama is a Muslim.

    June 22, 2012 at 8:59 am |
    • peter

      They know he is a mormon and won't be voting for romney or obama–well some will but enough won't and hence romney will lose–The article states 10 percent will sit out –i think it's much higher but lets say it is just 5 percent romney won't get elected..

      June 22, 2012 at 9:02 am |
  6. If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

    Choice of religion is no different than choice of salad dressing, both are personal preference and neither should have anything to do with governing at any level.

    June 22, 2012 at 8:57 am |
  7. Ron

    We darn well should be against voting for a Mormon President, who wants a nut case in the oval office. Mormonism is a freakish cult run by people who wear special magic underwear.

    June 22, 2012 at 8:57 am |
    • Argh

      Ignorance abounds. You must be one of those 18%.

      June 22, 2012 at 9:02 am |
    • zap

      Magic underwear is the key to their faith. Same as in Cristianity.

      June 22, 2012 at 9:04 am |
    • Really?

      Unedumucated response and your ignorance must take you beyond bliss.

      June 22, 2012 at 9:04 am |
  8. carl

    If you people only knew you are about to get a president that will make obama look like the devil incarnate.

    June 22, 2012 at 8:48 am |
  9. Bill

    People here in rural FL and elsewhere in the deep south still (and often) refer to our prez as :that smart – A n" in the whitehouse! Lets not even get to Mormons just yet!!

    June 22, 2012 at 8:47 am |
  10. kerfluffle

    Mitt Romney employs illegal Laminites for his yardwork.

    June 22, 2012 at 8:47 am |
  11. scoobypoo

    Romney believes he will become an actual god when he dies and rule his own planet, his wife birthing spirit babies to populate it.

    Yes, it is a loony tunes cult.

    June 22, 2012 at 8:43 am |
    • setnommarih

      The democrats, the party of inclusion and forward thinking has a problem with a Mormon? I can't believe that, gays are fine but Mormons are a problem? If you have a problem with mormons you may as well have a problem with the invisible god christians, womens lib, muslims and hindus, reincarnation? Democrats, the party of exclusion!

      June 22, 2012 at 8:50 am |
    • Argh

      Actually, Mormons believe that as man now is, God once was, and as God now is, man may become. They are the ultimate evolutionists!

      June 22, 2012 at 8:52 am |
    • peter

      This has nothing to do with the dems since they won't be voting for romney anyway–This has to do with republicans like me who will be sitting out the gen elction

      June 22, 2012 at 8:53 am |
    • ChristopherM

      @setnommarih: the difference is of course that Democrats would never even consider denying basic civil rights to Mormons. The same can't be said of Republicans and gay folks, Muslims, women, etc. I wouldn't vote for a devout Mormon for the simple fact that to be a devout Mormon means your principles fly in the face of the direction I believe the country should go. Romney's church, for example, called on them to send money to fight for Proposition 8 in California, and like a good Mormon, he did so. I could never vote for someone who did such a thing.

      June 22, 2012 at 8:59 am |
    • LDSinSC

      You're right! Why should anyone stand up for what they believe! We should just let the Dems rule our lives. Hate to tell you this, but if we feel something is about to cost us our freedom of religion, we have a right to to fight for that freedom. And just to let you know, the majority of the votes came from Blacks and Catholic Latinos, not Mormons.

      June 22, 2012 at 9:12 am |
    • pdd912

      ChristopherM WAS standing up for what he believes in and sticking by his values. He is doing that by VOTING FOR the candidate who's values most reflect his own. As he says, Romney's do not.

      And he never said that MORMONS voted on Prop 8. He said that the Mormon church (based out of UTAH, not CALIFORNIA where the prop was being voted on) had put a lot of money into opposing that state's law. Not their own state, but another state. This also happened a few years ago with the legalization of marriage laws in Hawaii, that was up for vote. Again, the CLDS made it their business to decide what the people of Hawaii would believe about that issue, in order to cloud their judgement with a lot of bullsh** and slogans and thinly disguised hate speech.

      So, in other words, although each state is believed to hold its own souverign power, in the eyes of the Mormon church, this is irrelevant. Going by this history, they believe that ALL states's laws should mirror their OWN state laws and if they don't now, then they will pump money into trying to buy the right law. The law that will put THEIR values in the place of those of that state's citizens.

      Smacks of totalitarianism to me. Difference is that they do not use a paramilitary group to get what they want. They slip money into the hands of the right person. They buy expensive campaigns for television, they hire temporary workers to flood a place with fliers and visits and phone calls. And in these ways, they try to purchase what people's ideas of these issues will be and, in turn, how they will vote.

      June 22, 2012 at 10:10 am |
  12. Steve

    I'm not sure what irritates me more, that Romney is Morman aka person willing to believe any frickin thing, or that it seems to be another republican family plan on running for president. We wonder why the same thinking continues to come back and slap us in the face.

    June 22, 2012 at 8:33 am |
  13. babooph

    It is difficult for the USA to have its president meeting foreign rulers in magic underwear,many of these rulers are not well impressed by that...

    June 22, 2012 at 8:27 am |
    • setnommarih

      The not impressed with Obama wearing anything.

      June 22, 2012 at 8:52 am |
  14. pork&beans

    I'm biased. I would not vote for someone if they were Mormon.

    June 22, 2012 at 8:27 am |
  15. A Different View

    Can someone please enlighten me about this magic underwear that gives super power? I have heard about this in passing but have no idea what people are talking about.

    June 22, 2012 at 8:26 am |
    • peninsula p

      You can shop for "temple undergarments" in sizes for men, women and children online. Maybe even on Amazon. They are worn all the time (with allowed exceptions for swimming, etc) to remind a Mormon of their special relationship to God. I'll bet during this summer's heat waves that relationship will get intoxicating.

      June 22, 2012 at 8:48 am |
    • Emma

      There is no such thing as magic underwear. Those that say silly things (that Latter Day Saints believe it gives them super powers) are just making crap up b/c they are uneducated.
      Some Latter Day Saints wear a "garment" under their clothes. It basically consists of a white t-shirt and underwear. It is a reminder for them of their commitment to our Savior, what he did for us and, that we need to keep our bodies pure and clean (What we eat and drink, not marking them up, etc...) Yes, they can come off when we want them to.

      June 22, 2012 at 8:53 am |
    • Shake my head

      The "people talking" have no idea what they are talking about, including peninsula p. If you really want to know about Mormon's, why don't you ask someone who truly is Mormon, not someone who 'knows' a Mormon.

      June 22, 2012 at 8:54 am |
    • peter

      shake my hand–mormons believe that the book of mormon,another testament of jesus christ is the word of God-they are in darkness and error like other false religions

      June 22, 2012 at 8:56 am |
    • Argh

      Correction: Children don't wear them. And they aren't magic or give super powers. Those are staments made by ignorant people trying to belittle and ridicule the Mormon religion. They are just clothing with religious symbolic significance to Mormons, like the Jewish yarmulke or the robes of Tibetan monks.

      June 22, 2012 at 9:00 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Christians who find the Mormon underwear thing strange should look into their own religion's strange garments like the scapular and cilice. At least Moroni Underoos aren't designed to inflict pain!

      June 22, 2012 at 9:05 am |
  16. CJ

    I think the founder of the Mormon Religin was a nut but I do not think that reflects on all Mormons.

    June 22, 2012 at 8:25 am |
    • jdoe

      Yeah, they're just normal, regular people who happen to believe in a nut.

      June 22, 2012 at 9:09 am |
  17. Notso

    Many people laugh at the implausible things that mormans believe - yet they believe the bible. Just because something happened within the last 200 years in America should not make it less believeable than if it happened 2000 years ago in Israel. Mormanism is equally believable to other denominations of Christianity. In other words, hard to believe.

    June 22, 2012 at 8:21 am |
  18. Tracy Hayes

    Mormonism is a cult people – WAKE UP!!! Read what they think about women and black people, its just the tip of a very scary iceberg......

    June 22, 2012 at 8:21 am |
    • Primewonk

      Tracy – ALL religions are cults. And how about how Catholics and fundamentalists think about women? And as far as blacks go, why was the SBC formed?

      June 22, 2012 at 8:40 am |
    • setnommarih

      And what do jews and muslims think of women and blacks? What do christians think of jews and muslims, how about those infidels. You ever hear of Mormons slaughtering anyone or starting a war?

      June 22, 2012 at 9:06 am |
  19. O.T.

    Compare how many Mormon stories CNN did four years ago with this year. It is an apparent attempt to keep Romney's faith in front of voters. Given CNN's strong backing of Barack Obama, it seems motivated by a desire to use religious bigotry to reelect him, which of course would be a heinous act.

    June 22, 2012 at 8:20 am |
    • peter

      o.t –because i know that the book of mormon,another testament of jesus christ is not the word of God does not make me a bigot. I don't vote for scientologists,mormons or muslims. You can blame cnn or not but even if they had pro romney,pro mormon religion wouldn't change the fact. Mormons don't share the same values i do

      June 22, 2012 at 8:33 am |
    • kerfluffle

      Romney's faith is an issue worthy of covering, because Romney's faith is an issue.

      Stop trying to whitewash it.

      June 22, 2012 at 8:42 am |
    • Al

      So what if they're reporting he's Mormon? How many times does CNN report about presidential candidates bending the knee to evangelical leaders, or the near daily reports we had back in early 2009 on speculation regarding what Washington DC church the Obamas were going to choose? There is legitimate news value in reporting on Romney's religion because if elected he will be the first of his kind, no different than Kennedy being the first Catholic or Obama being the first black. Plus just as it's legitimate to report on the (mistaken) belief many have regarding Obama's religion, so too it is demonstratively a concern of many that Romney is Mormon. It may not make a lick of difference in the end, but these are legitimate areas of discussion. If Romney was Jewish, Catholic, Hindu, or an atheist we'd be seeing similar coverage from different angles.

      June 22, 2012 at 8:59 am |
    • setnommarih

      But not below our bottom feeding president, Barack HUSSEIN Obama.

      June 22, 2012 at 9:07 am |
  20. Willie12345

    Bigotry is still alive in America ....... and in this case, fueled by the Democratic party.

    June 22, 2012 at 8:11 am |
    • peter

      So if we say mormonism is a false religion we are being "fooled" by the dems–If you only knew how many republicans you will make angry with that.

      June 22, 2012 at 8:13 am |
    • Mirosal

      ALL religions are false, from the Su'merians, to the Greeks, the Romans, the Norse, the Egyptians, up to and including the modern-day. Not a single one of them can show anything about their "god"... all you hear is "just read out book it's all true", when it can be picked apart little by little without much effort.

      June 22, 2012 at 8:17 am |
    • Primewonk

      Most of the villification of Mormons comes from the fundiots (fundamentalist îdiots). The overwhelming vast majority of fundiots are tea bagger republicans.

      Additionally in recent polls in Mississippi and Alabama 85-88% of republicans state that Obama is not a Christian, and 50%+ claim he is a Muslim.

      One third of republicans nation-wide said that Obama was born in Kenya.

      Apparently, your cognitive dissonence precludes you from understanding simple facts.

      June 22, 2012 at 8:21 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.