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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. BigRed

    It's really hard to not have a bias when it comes to any cult.

    June 21, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
    • Spearwielder

      I agree completely...which is why Democrats and Republicans scare me.

      June 21, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
  2. Former UT resident

    Lived in Utah for 12 years, there is something scary and dysfunctional about the Mormon faith and the culture it spawned.
    Can't tell you how thrilled I was the first time (which means there were additional instances) that a Mormon described me as "You People" aka non-Mormon. Clear prejudice against non-Mormons in Utah. The though of a Mormon in the White House is frightening based upon my experiences in Utah.

    June 21, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
    • LostinSLC

      I have lived here 28 years and not a Mormon.....but you are so severely off.

      June 21, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
    • Mike

      I've lived in Utah 50 years and yes the thought of a Mormon in the White House is very scary.

      June 21, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
    • LinSea

      Guess what? Mormons who live outside of Utah get treated in a similar way. I've had to put up with hearing "you people," kinds of comments, too, and experienced being put down and insulted, even in school and in workplace settings, because I was Mormon.

      June 21, 2012 at 6:38 pm |
  3. Spearwielder

    "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."

    That speaks volumes.

    June 21, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
    • WIlliam Demuth

      Yes, it means Christians wont support him.

      They are the whinos that smell the BO on other cults, but believe their own stench is normal.

      Intra-Cult fighting. I hope they slaughter each other!

      June 21, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
    • Spearwielder

      How does that theory correlate with this?

      "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."

      June 21, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
    • WIlliam Demuth

      Because Christians are the poorest and least educated among us.

      Review the stats.

      Poor equal uneducated. Uneducated equals Christian.

      June 21, 2012 at 4:55 pm |
    • msadr

      Yes, it says that 94% of people with a post-graduate degree are too scared of damaging their reputations to say what they really think.

      June 21, 2012 at 8:11 pm |
  4. steve-o

    I think devout Jews, Christian and Muslims are all nuts but Mormons are really, really nuts

    June 21, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
    • Marco

      Agreed 100%. All major religions are really grasping at straws, but the Mormons are up there with Scientologists with their level of insanity.

      June 21, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
    • NativeBornAmerican

      and athiests that voice that view really really really nuts..............

      June 21, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
    • NativeBornAmerican

      and I am sure you voice that view of Obama since his is either a muslim or some type of Christian he says so himself.

      June 21, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
    • Honey Badger Dont Care

      How so NBA?

      June 21, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
    • Charles

      NativeBornAmerican: I'm pretty sure he's secretly non-religious. Obviously he has to pretend that's not true or he'd have no chance of being elected. Thinking that he's a Muslim is just insane and completely removed from reality.

      June 21, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
  5. Robert

    I'd vote for the Man from Mars if I thought he was best able to fix our national debt timebomb. I was raised Catholic and taught that donkeys can talk. So what? Romney did not get where he is today by magic. We need a tough businessman, not Mother Teresa.

    June 21, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
    • Honey Badger Dont Care

      He IS a crooked businessman, not a tough one.

      June 21, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
    • NativeBornAmerican

      Honey Badger would not know a crooked businessman unless he was a democrat then she'd vote for him any day even with a police record.......Romney? Law abiding..........so there in lies the difference GOP put out the crooks Dems reelect them.

      June 21, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
    • Honey Badger Dont Care

      Law dodging draft dodger.

      June 21, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
    • Say What Again

      @NativeBornAmerican: Apparently you never heard of Richard Nixon. Or any of the other Republicans who were driven out of office because they broke the law. You conservatives have such short memories. Heck, you guys even forgot that conservative Republican President Ronald Reagan in 1987 granted amnesty to 3 million illegal immigrants. You also forgot the Irant-Contra deal . Hint: it was ILLEGAL. Serioulsy, dude, you Republicans elect crooks often. And you make "heroes' of convicted felons such as G. Gordon Liddy and Oliver North. Very odd how your rhetoric never matches reality.

      June 21, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
  6. Bill, Bloomington Il

    I have said all along liberals are the bigoted haters. This article should not be news to anyone. Remember the first hispanic AG? Dems would not rest until he was gone.

    June 21, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
    • NativeBornAmerican

      If Romney were a democrat they would be extolling his virtues just like they do for Harry Reid..............

      June 21, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
  7. Robert

    I attended a funeral of a Mormon serviceman killed in Iraq a few years ago. You anti-Mormon folks should have been there.

    June 21, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
    • meli

      Amen to that!

      June 21, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
  8. solex

    I think that the real issue is going to be how the Christians vote in the upcoming election. For years we have heard the Christians say that being a Christian is a major reason that they vote for a candidate. However, if the Christians vote for Romney, they will prove that this has been a lie all along.

    Contrary to what the tin foil hat brigade may say, Obama is a Christian and has been a member of the same church for over 20 years. If they now vote for Romney, the Christians will prove once and for all that Christianity comes in second to race.

    And once they do that, they can never unring that bell.

    Good Luck with that.

    June 21, 2012 at 4:34 pm |
    • Marco

      According to conservatives though, they actually think Obama is a Muslim, and he's not from the USA – if you expect people with that level of irrational thought to do something reasonable, you're fooling yourself lol.

      June 21, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
  9. Jack Package

    They are a cult plain and simple and very secretive, just like Romney.
    CNN, stop playing the "politically correct" game with Mormons and expose them for what they are.
    Stop tossing softballs and get Romney talking about his "religion"
    The PEOPLE have a right to know!!!!!

    June 21, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
    • NativeBornAmerican

      And reverend wright isn't? Of course Mormons teach love and forgiveness live basically very Christian lives by and large and reverend Wright's followers? Lets take a survey of Romney's church of many years how man felons and Obama's.......let the stats tell all.

      June 21, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
    • Pope on a Rope

      @naturalbornamerican Let's start with Romney and Obama's arrest records. Romney has one. Obama does not.

      June 21, 2012 at 4:47 pm |
    • juan

      What's your evidence for LDS being a cult?

      June 21, 2012 at 4:47 pm |
    • msadr

      Yes! They are a loony cult and their secretive exclusions are disturbing! I had the misfortune of living out west and working with 8 of those wackos. I'm pretty open-minded and curious about religions, but they kept saying I wasn't allowed to go to their church and they couldn't tell me about their prayers. And when I went to pick them up for work, they were really careful that I wouldn't see their husbands or kids. It was bizarre. They freak me out and I'm sure not putting one of them in the White House.

      June 21, 2012 at 8:16 pm |
  10. Pope on a Rope

    Most religions justify hatred in the name of "god." Mormonism more so than others.

    June 21, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
    • meli

      You have obviously never met a Mormon or have never attended one of their meetings. I invite you to do so, so you have have a more educated opinion about them.

      June 21, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
    • Pope on a Rope

      @mell I grew up with mormons and had mormons as friends. I was invited to a kickball game where they tried to indoctrinate me into their cult, which my parents didn't exactly appreciate. As for my comment, mormons once openly preached that blacks were evil and they still harbor those sentiments. And they currently openly preach against gays and lobby against gay rights. Hatred is hatred even when it's delivered with a smile.

      June 21, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
  11. Pastafarian

    I'll take a Mormon over an evangelical. As Mormonism is still a bit of a fringe religion, I predict a Mormon would be less likely to bring his/her religion into the Oval Office. I am NPA, and I know what they believe.

    June 21, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
    • Pisces67

      I have family that is Mormon. He will definitely take religion to the oval office. They live and breath for the Mormon religion. Their children belong to only Mormon girl scout and boy scout troops. You cannot attend your own child's wedding if you're not Mormon. They believe Catholics are pagans because their churches have statues. They own tons of acres of land so the kids can attend Mormon summer camps. They are all inclusive. They created the book of mormon and made it their own Bible so they can justify what is preached. BYU has a program (that they charge for) to straighten gays, and by the way, BYU the highest college suicide rate. I could go on........

      June 21, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
  12. Recovering Catholic

    I would not vote for a practicing Mormon for the same reason that I would not vote for an evangelical "Christian" or an Islamic fundamentalist or a rabid Catholic like Santorum, of a follower of any of the more irrational religions. It is not because a Mormon is a Mormon so much as it is that I would not vote for any candidate who rejects knowledge and fact in order to cling to myth. I also cannot support anyone who thinks the purpose of government is to force people to live by the tenets of any given religion. All religion is a crock of sheeeet, but some are worse than others.

    June 21, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
  13. Jim970

    Interesting. It is okay to be prejudiced against a Mormon but one is likely to be burned at the stake if they are prejudiced against an African-American. Or is it supposed to be Black? I hear many Blacks do not like the African-American term. Oddly enough, I have never heard a Mormon complaining about being called a Mormon.

    How two-faced many Americans are. Blacks are glorified but Mormons are demonized. I lived in Salt Lake City for a year, and found the Mormons to be good people and good Americans. Prejudice is ugly no matter what group it is directed at.

    June 21, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
    • Pope on a Rope

      It's not a matter of prejudice in the case of Romney and his religion. Prejudice is to pre-judge. Romney has stated that his views on gays, abortion and women's rights are based on his religious beliefs. And that his religious beliefs would guide his decisions. It's fair to judge him based on that.

      June 21, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
    • meli

      I find that most people that have a prejudice are people that have never met a Mormon and have never attended one of the church meetings, or I bet they would have a different perspective. I think the same thing you do. Why talking about blacks, gays, any other minority is being racist but Mormons have to deal with all the slack that people say....

      June 21, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
    • Say What Again

      Hey, Jim970, actually, many of the "Mormons" I know prefer to be called Latter Day Saints. And nobody gets "burned at the stake" for being prejudiced, else there'd be no GOP. Mr. Romney's faith won't be a factor, because he's not making a big deal about it and 40% of potential voters don't even know what his faith is. Besides, there are conservative preachers falling all over themselves trying to be loudest to proclaim that Mr. Romney is a Christian. If evangelical preachers can get past Mr. Romney's belief that Jesus and Satan are spirit brothers, I doubt many voters would have a problem with that either. The U.S. is not a theocracy.

      June 21, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
    • melissa

      black people dont "believe" they are black, they ARE black, that is their race....religion is a choice, LDS is a cult and that should be taken into account when youre talking about being the leader of our country

      June 28, 2012 at 9:18 pm |
  14. porkcrisp

    How many first ladies will Mitt have?

    June 21, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
    • LostinSLC

      Epic failure on your part. Mormons outlawed polygamy over 100 years ago

      June 21, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
    • porkcrisp

      Being outlawed and being practiced are two completely differnet things. Utah had to outlaw it, or they were not allowed to be a member of the US. The church does not band members for the practice of polygamy.... so was it really outlawed?

      June 21, 2012 at 5:03 pm |
    • meli

      porkcrispo....I invite you to investigate more on your profound comment.....not so educated...

      June 21, 2012 at 6:22 pm |
    • LinSea

      @porkcrisp, A member of the Mormon church would get excommunicated if he or she decided to practice polygamy, so yes it definitely is outlawed, but I don't know about getting "band" (rubber band? hair band? rock band?).

      June 21, 2012 at 6:53 pm |
    • Craig

      But we mormons believe polygamy will be practiced in the Celestial kingdom.

      Here is the word from Prophet Brigham Young: – "Now if any of you will deny the plurality of wives, and continue to do so, I promise that you will be damned," (Journal of Discourses, vol. 3, p. 266). Also, "The only men who become Gods, even the Sons of God, are those who enter into polygamy," (Journal of Discourses, vol. 11, p. 269).

      June 21, 2012 at 9:02 pm |
  15. Pope on a Rope

    Any religion less than a thousand years old is a cult. Any cult over a thousand years old is a religion.

    June 21, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
    • NativeBornAmerican

      And any athiests whom have been around for millions of years? Still burnin in hell.................but most people not in immediate thrall of death are always quite arrogant and in many cases quite bigotted, you being no exception.

      June 21, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
    • Pope on a Rope

      @nativebornamerican That's a lot of hatred coming from someone who claims to believe in god. As a result, you obviously assume you're a better person than anyone who does not. This my friend, is what is referred to as irony. Not to mention hypocrisy.

      June 21, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
    • meli

      Obviously you have not educated yourself before making this type of comments. . .

      June 21, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
    • Pope on a Rope

      @mell On the contrary, education is the enemy of religion. Once you know the history of your religion, you know that it's based on prior religions that you now consider to be mythology and cults.

      June 21, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
  16. NativeBornAmerican

    Most of the very ultimate venom is not by the right it is of course like most bigotry in America the "enlightened" left, including many of Obama's own minions and primary donors...........

    June 21, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
    • zacharye

      Mhm. And by minions you mean the overwhelming majority of americans. Look, you seem to think you're right and high and mighty and you can call the left bigots but how can anyone look at a group of people clinging to fire, brimstone, angels, demons, bigfoots, aliens etc and actually think that they are telling the truth.

      June 21, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
    • Pope on a Rope

      Says the guy spreading his venom all over CNN's message board.

      June 21, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
  17. Occam

    Mormons are no more or less crazy then all the other religions, just newer.

    /All religion is BS.

    June 21, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
    • NativeBornAmerican

      and no more crazy than the average liberal or athiest...........

      June 21, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
    • NativeBornAmerican

      and one could easily use the term BS to apply to I imagine you............and your thoughts or views.....

      June 21, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
    • Pope on a Rope

      @ nativeboramerican All other things being equal, anyone who believes in supernatural beings is crazier than anyone who does not.

      June 21, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
    • NativeBornAmerican

      Pope on a rope unless they are proven right which I guess since we all die we all find out ..........
      Of course spontaneious healings,visitations to non believers, miracles are easily explained aliens did it.........in your mind. When you die you have a warm vacation coming.........very warm

      June 21, 2012 at 4:34 pm |
    • Pope on a Rope

      @ nativebornamerican You're not doing yourself any favors with your posts. The more you write, the crazier you sound.

      June 21, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
  18. Loathstheright

    It's a cult that makes about as much sense as L. Ron's Scientology....pure nonsense.

    June 21, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
    • meli

      I invite you to do some research before making such a remark. If you would like to actually prove your facts, I invite you to look into mormon.org. You might be surprised at how little you know about the religion.

      June 21, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
    • Loathstheright

      Meli, you are insane to believe the mormon crap, completely illogical and insane.

      June 21, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
  19. Reality

    MR, the Mormon or any other right wing candidate has no chance of beating BO.

    To wit:

    Why the Christian Right no longer matters in presidential elections:

    Once again, all the conservative votes in the country "ain't" going to help a "pro-life" presidential candidate, i.e Mitt Romney, in 2012 as the "Immoral Majority" rules the country and will be doing so for awhile. The "Immoral Majority" you ask?

    The fastest growing USA voting bloc: In 2008, the 70+ million "Roe vs. Wade mothers and fathers" of aborted womb-babies" whose ranks grow by two million per year i.e. 78+ million "IM" voters in 2012.

    2008 Presidential popular vote results:

    69,456,897 for pro-abortion/choice BO, 59,934,814 for "pro-life" JM.

    And the irony:

    And all because many women fail to take the Pill once a day or men fail to use a condom even though in most cases these men have them in their pockets. (maybe they should be called the "Stupid Majority"?)

    The failures of the widely used birth "control" methods i.e. the Pill and male condom have led to the large rate of abortions ( one million/yr) and S-TDs (19 million/yr) in the USA. Men and women must either recognize their responsibilities by using the Pill or condoms properly and/or use other safer birth control methods in order to reduce the epidemics of abortion and S-TDs.

    June 21, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
  20. Snow

    I want to ask the mormons how it is that so many of their doctrines on polygamy to mark of cain to women can change over just the last century?? wasn't god correct the first time? if so, how could he be correct about the current book?

    Really, the similar argument can be applied to the bible and christianity in general as well

    June 21, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
    • Bill Kilpatrick

      The current book?

      June 21, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
    • Snow

      "the currently accepted doctrines as accorded by the book of mormons", if you will..

      June 21, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
    • NativeBornAmerican

      Or athiests such as yourself or liberals....................equally........man is evil, but New Testament Christianity is quite the oppisite the failure is mans not the religion.......Greatest mass murderers in history? Stalin Mao Lenin.......athiests all.

      June 21, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
    • meli

      Have you read the Bible? You should, there are plenty of examples of this in there...that would answer your question...i.e...the law of Moses...

      June 21, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
    • Say What Again

      @nativeBornAmerican: actually, Stalin had been in seminary to become a priest. It wasn't atheists who murdered 6 million Jews, it was people who called themselves '"christians". So-called "christians" used to burn people alive at the stake for "heresy" or "witchcraft." Atheism is based on rational thought and objective observation of the real world. Christ preached tolerance, love, and forgiveness, all of which are alien concepts to conservatives. Christ's preachings are liberal. Christ said help the poor. Christ said treat others as you would like to be treated. Christ said judge not, lest you be judged. Conservatism is the polar opposite of what Christ taught. Conservatism is anti-Christ by definition. The atheists that I know are far closer to Christ's teachings than any rightwing nutjob is,

      June 21, 2012 at 5:12 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.