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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. Reality

    M.R., the Mormon has no chance of beating B.O. the so called Christian.

    (only for new members of this blog)

    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 5:40 pm |
  2. Robert

    People who do not vote for Mitt Romney because he is a Mormon are idiots.

    June 21, 2012 at 5:40 pm |
    • Thank You

      Agreed!

      June 21, 2012 at 5:43 pm |
    • christine

      Agree! I won't be voting for him because he has no plans for our country. Well, he might have some, but he won't say what they are. I couldn't care less if he is a mormom, christian, jew, mustlim, or atheist.

      June 21, 2012 at 5:46 pm |
    • Alien Orifice

      Mormons are idiots, hence Romney is and idiot. So why would I vote for an idiot?

      June 21, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
    • Say What Again

      Robert: but idiots do vote. There are plenty of reasons not to vote for Mr. Romney, and his religion has nothing to do with it. On the plus side, would anyone actually go to the "trouble" of voting, just to keep a Mormon from being elected? I doubt it. Polls are interesting, but they don't actually tell us what people are going to do. Voter turnout is usually low, in part because anyone who'd base his choice on a candidate's religion probably won't bother to vote at all. Replying to a poll is easier to do.

      June 21, 2012 at 5:56 pm |
    • Alien Orifice

      Mormons are idiots, hence Romney is and idiot. So why would I vote for an idiot??

      June 21, 2012 at 6:01 pm |
    • Going Back to Junior High

      Can I find an oasis in this intellectual desert?

      June 21, 2012 at 6:11 pm |
  3. Barbara Price

    I can't believe all the ignorance and hate that is displayed here. Don't make this election about religion (under Obama religious freedoms are being taken away anyway) Make this election about how to get our country on the right road and out of debt. Our country is following the path of Eurpeon Socialism. Do you not see what is happening? I lived over there and believe me they are sinking. We have a great country and we need to keep it that way. At least have an intelligent discourse.

    June 21, 2012 at 5:40 pm |
    • drinker75

      Here is some intelligent discourse for you. The UK went conservative, they started cutting their budget tremendously, guess where it ended them? In a bigger recession.

      June 21, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
  4. Braden Barty

    When Jesus was alive , his poll ratings were down too. So what's your point?

    June 21, 2012 at 5:38 pm |
    • Eddy

      Amen to that!!

      June 21, 2012 at 5:40 pm |
  5. Eddy

    Amen to what JFK said.... and about this article, it should be construed as discrimination and dirty politics, not because Romney's religion shouldn't be looked at, but because it is used to alienate the public against Mormons. I'm guessing Obama and his supporters would DO ANYTHING to save their jobs, even to resort to these low tactics, but we'll see if they work...

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2NEC054O26g&w=640&h=360]

    June 21, 2012 at 5:37 pm |
    • Say What Again

      @Eddy: you're guessing that because you have no clue at all about President Obama or anything else. You conservatives choose to believe that blatant lie that the President is a "secret Muslim" even though he's attended Christian churches all of his life. And then you read the results of a poll and somehow you twist that into a mindless tirade against the President. Dude, seriously, get a grip.

      June 21, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
  6. drinker75

    I wouldn't have a problem with the religion of any president as long as they keep their faith out of the presidency. Although Mormonism is especially hard to swallow, all religions are fairy tales.

    June 21, 2012 at 5:36 pm |
    • TKO

      I'm with you all the way until the "all religions are fairy tales" stuff. How much do you know about the world's religions? And really? ALL religions? What do you know about the religions of Africa, Amazonia, Native Americans? You do atheism a disservice by this sort of blanket ignorance.

      June 21, 2012 at 5:43 pm |
    • drinker75

      So...prove me wrong...give me some examples of religion based 100% on reality...

      I also think you can believe in God without religion.

      June 21, 2012 at 5:47 pm |
  7. Proud Mormon

    You all don't understand what we believe. If you did, you would also be LDS!!!
    We believe that Jesus died on the cross, and three days later arose again. During those three days, however, what do we know about Jesus? He visited the Americas to bring his message of love to some of the tribes of Israel that were here at the time. That's it!! Later his word here was lost and later angels came down to Joseph Smith because god's children were ready for the new message.

    June 21, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
    • Concerned with your sanity

      you do realize how insane this sounds right...as long as people like you exist that will believe any load of crap someone feeds them we will keep perpetuating this nonsense.

      June 21, 2012 at 5:44 pm |
    • Proud Moron

      It's all true cause they told me it was and I so want it all to be true and someday i'll get my own planet. It's going to be so sweet and awesome and I'll name it Boblandia and i'll have fishrabbits that eat space donkey pellets which we will also be able to run our space cars on...

      June 21, 2012 at 5:46 pm |
    • Funny

      That was an incredibly humorous comment. If you knew what a Mormon REALLY is you would be one, guaranteed!

      June 21, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
    • Jules

      Well Proud Mormon, Christians pretty much believe that after Jesus died on the cross and was buried he descended into hell and on the thrid day he rose again to save the living and the dead. So unless you equate America to hell, I don't think he visited America during those three days. I also don't understand that if you follow the teachings of the Mormon church how you can be called Christian if you think you are saved by Joseph Smith who gets to decided if you get to heaven or not and not by Jesus. Seems to me the whole belief system of Christianity is that you believe that Jesus died for the sins of all mankind and I don't recall seeing Joseph Smith anywhere in my Bible.

      June 21, 2012 at 9:47 pm |
  8. KYL

    Funny how the liberals like to preach tolerance and respect, but they are the worst when it comes to bashing someone for their religion. Liberals are the biggest hypocrites in the country

    June 21, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
    • Mass Debater

      It's often why the liberals take so much abuse, they are too passive. They have the conservative mantra of the ends justify the means so nothing is off the table when they want to get their way and the liberals have to sit there and take it and when one can't take it anymore they stand up and fight back the conservatives scream how unfair it is that they are being attacked. It's great political theatre but makes for horrid federal policy and governance.

      June 21, 2012 at 5:40 pm |
    • BrianNM

      I was surprised at this as well. My conservative Christian friends have always been the ones telling me Mormonism is a cult. I guess party affiliation must be stronger than religion. I am guessing people who knew Romney was a Mormon just replaced Mormon with Romney and that is a large reason those results are skewed that way. Be interesting what the breakdown would have been before Romney ran.

      June 21, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
    • Say What Again

      @KYL: funny how you don't,know that Christianity is a liberal religion, that Jesus was a liberal, and that your comments are based on nothing. Christ said "do good to those who persecute you." Christ said "judge not, lest you be judged." Christ said "turn the other cheek." Christ's teachings are alien concepts to conservatives. And religious conservatives turned Christ over to the Romans to be crucified. Hypocrisy is what defines you conservatives. You try to portray yourselves as the "victims" of intolerance while at the same time demonizing anyone who doesn't embrace your political leanings. Read what Christ taught. You won't like it, because it's pure liberalism.

      June 21, 2012 at 5:44 pm |
  9. g3ogaddi

    two words:

    mountain meadow

    June 21, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
    • Eddy

      ...as if some Mormons are the only ones who have committed crimes in the history of this country??? give me a break, your logic is so moronic, it sounds pathetic.

      June 21, 2012 at 5:39 pm |
    • Barbara Price

      Henry the VIII

      June 21, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
    • Come on Dude

      Pathetic!

      June 21, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
    • LinSea

      I can play the two word phrase game, too. Try these:

      Haun's Mill
      Extermination Order

      June 21, 2012 at 5:56 pm |
    • Ouch

      You just got owned!

      June 21, 2012 at 6:00 pm |
  10. Say What Again

    Every religious person feels that his religion is the right one and everybody else is wrong. Even though all religion is based on exactly the same evidence: none, just a collection of stories they were told as children. May just as well believe in fairies and elves. Anyone posting here about how right your religion is, consider the fact that if you had been born in Pagan Europe 2,000 years ago, you would be worshiping Thor and Odin or some other pagan gods. And you would believe in them as strongly as you believe in the god you worship today. Because you would have just as much proof. Think about it. Your ancestors worshiped pagan gods. Do you think they all went to hell? Seriously? And if you had never heard of the religion that you follow, but still lived an ethical life and committed no sins, do you honestly believe that a just and loving God would send you to roast in hell for eternity? Think, people! Think!

    June 21, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
    • Laughing Atyou420

      Don't knock on Thor. Didn't you see the movie? I am sure some girls and guys would want to worship him!

      June 21, 2012 at 5:37 pm |
    • Explain this

      Then why do 250,000-300,000 people convert from other religions to Mormonism every single year?

      June 21, 2012 at 5:37 pm |
    • drinker75

      So how many leave the mormon church each year? I bet they don't tell you that part!

      June 21, 2012 at 5:45 pm |
    • Yep

      That's what I thought.

      June 21, 2012 at 5:45 pm |
    • Mashstream

      The numbers of Mormons staying in the religion and those joining up are in the air. This counting of members has been an issue here in Utah. I doubt the Mormon church would give such high numbers of Christians joining up. Some say no members are taken off the list and new ones are added easily. They are probably still counting Marco Rubio and his family as members, for example.

      June 21, 2012 at 5:46 pm |
    • Concerned with your sanity

      People convert to Mormonism because of evangelist missionaries pushing their doctrine on the poor and needy of 3rd world countries who would rather eat and have clean water than die. In addition there's a lot of low intelligence people on the planet, why not convert to Mormonism?

      June 21, 2012 at 5:47 pm |
    • What about them?

      The 250,000-300,000 all left other churches to become Mormons. What's the difference? People leave every church. Welcome to the work of Satan.

      June 21, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
  11. Ted

    They also have little kids stand up every sunday and give their testament of faith, and the kids have to say "I know this church is true" – I'm sure that helps to ensure they are brainwashed enough.

    June 21, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
  12. MB

    mostly Dems have a problem with a Mormon. So much for being progressive. They show their true colors

    June 21, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
    • Mass Debater

      I'm thinking mostly dems have a problem with a Republican. They wouldn't vote for the Republican candidate regardless of what religion he was. Mitt's faith will be a deciding factor in getting republicans to vote for him, and I have heard quite a few who feel they can't vote for a Mormon, but they won't vote for Obama either so they are sitting this one out.

      June 21, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
    • Say What Again

      2MIB: you are so very confused. At no point does the story say anything about "most" Dems having an issue with Mr. Romney's religion. Democrats are the majority in Massachusetts, and Romney was elected governor in that state. Wouldn't have happened if the majority had a problem with his religion. Really.

      June 21, 2012 at 5:36 pm |
    • Mashstream

      They asked the question with Mitt's presidential nomination looming. It is mostly about Mitt. I would like the same question asked after the election to Dems but with Harry Reid as the Mormon in the news.

      June 21, 2012 at 5:40 pm |
    • Herb DeDurpe

      I don't agree that it's mostly demo(n)crats that are against mormonism. Any self respecting Christian and Conservative should know that this faith goes against the foundations of this great country from its very core. They believe that they will eventually control the US as a theocracy. I would be much more wary of mormonism than islam.

      June 21, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
  13. Laughing Atyou420

    "Ignorance unchanged since 1967, poll finds"

    June 21, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
    • Bob

      Thats true there are still Mormons around.

      June 21, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
  14. Ted

    I mean common "anti nephi lehi" That isn't even that creative.

    June 21, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
  15. ChuckB

    If Mormons are Christians, then why do they spend so much time trying to convert other Christians?

    June 21, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
    • I'm a Mormon

      Mormons believe that in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (the full name of the church) exists the fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, meaning that they believe that every doctrine of the Gospel necessary for the salvation of the human soul can be found in the church. They respect and admire all believers and all other religions, while at the same time triumphantly declaring the there is something more in their church.

      June 21, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
    • polemicist

      because non-Mormons are obviously not Christians.

      June 21, 2012 at 5:36 pm |
    • Hello?

      Did I say that?

      June 21, 2012 at 5:39 pm |
  16. Ted

    It is because they absolutely nuts to believe that crap. How can you elect a man who thinks he is going to be the god of his own planet when he dies? That isn't all that far off from Schizophrenia. The only thing other major religions have on it is the obscurity that thousands of years of history gives you.

    June 21, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
    • Roscoe Chait

      How do you elect a man who wears magical underware?

      June 21, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
    • Good One

      Nobody is going to listen to someone who doesn't know how to spell the word "underwear" properly.

      June 21, 2012 at 5:40 pm |
    • Ted

      @ Good one
      OOOOHHH!!! No she di'int, Girl friend!

      June 21, 2012 at 5:44 pm |
    • Mass Debater

      I'm just happy to see someone named Roscoe attempting to spell...

      June 21, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
  17. Barbara Price

    To BunnyBunny. Get your facts straight. Mormonism does NOT tear down any religion. We respect all religions. My brother is a Southern Baptist and his church has classes in Anti Mormon and anti other religions. We believe all good people will go to heaven. We do not discrimate. Before you post untruths, please research your facts first before spreading gossip. I beleive that only Christ can define what a Christian is because a Christian is a follower of Christ and he is the only one who can judge that. The 11th Article of Faith of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Staints Is: " We Claim the privilege of worshing Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience and allow all men the Same Privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may."

    June 21, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
    • Concerned with your sanity

      golden plates found in some guy's backyard that only he got to see....need i say more.

      June 21, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
  18. polemicist

    Just an FYI, polygamy is an "everlasting" covenant according to Joseph Smith. All Mormons who deny polygamy are not real Mormons and have been deceived.

    June 21, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
    • Really?

      That is a foolish comment

      June 21, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
    • polemicist

      No, it's true. Read "Doctrines & Covenants" to see that Joseph Smith said that polygamy is an "everlasting" covenant if you don't believe me.

      June 21, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
    • Barbara Price

      That is false. In the Mormon Church if you practice polgamy you are excommunicated. Please stick to the truth. 12th Article of Faith of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints: "we believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul-We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report of priaseworthy, we seek after these things." To not vote for someone because of their religion, race or color is being a bigot. Vote for someone because of what he can do for our country. Romney can get us on the right road. Mormons are taught not to get in debt. Being in debt is a bad thing for our country. We are spending money faster than Greece. You can't spend your way out of debt. If you want to vote for Obama that is your choice, but at least do it for a good reason not hate or ignorance.

      June 21, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
    • Mashstream

      Mormon men can marry another woman in the Mormon temple after his wife dies, but a Mormon woman cannot. This is because Mormons believe in polygamy in the afterlife. In order to reach the highest heaven (the Celestial kingdom), you must be married to one or more women and go through all Mormon rituals. If not, you are without God and living in the Terrestrial (with me) or Tellestial (with Stalin and Hitler) kingdoms.

      June 21, 2012 at 5:37 pm |
    • polemicist

      Babara, D&C 132 "For behold, I reveal unto you a new and an everlasting acovenant; and if ye abide not that covenant, then are ye bdamned; for no one can creject this covenant and be permitted to enter into my glory . . . if any man espouse a virgin, and desire to espouse another, and the first give her consent, and if he espouse the second, and they are virgins, and have vowed to no other man, then is he justified."

      June 21, 2012 at 5:44 pm |
    • Surprise Surprise

      Religion and research aren't incredibly compatible terms. The devoted prefer to have their scripture cherry picked by the leaders of the flock. Much easier to cut out the ignorance and bigotry of the "old books"

      June 21, 2012 at 5:54 pm |
    • Um?

      Do you know what a catholic is? Catholics aren't even encouraged to study the scriptures. Any Catholic that studies the New Testament knows that the doctrine of their church is wrong.

      June 21, 2012 at 6:03 pm |
  19. tom

    There's been no siteing of jesus for thousands of years except in a grilled cheese. Your not special get over yourselves there's no one in a booth planning out your lives.

    June 21, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
  20. What is a Mormon?

    It is apparent that 90% of the people making comments on this story have no idea what a Mormon really is. If you would take 10 minutes to look at mormon.org, there would be no doubt in your mind that Mormons are Christians, that they are normal, good people, and there is no reason why Romney's mormonism should play any factor whatsoever in this election. Find out who Mormons really are before you attempt to slander them!

    June 21, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
    • MIchael

      Yes there is. MAGIC UNDERWEAR. Anyone who believe in that is just a fool. Anyone who believes the joseph smith crap is also a fool. See'er stones? Come'on.

      June 21, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
    • Mass Debater

      A mormon is just like any other human that has taken to believing in fairy tales to make themselves feel better about their lot in life. The fairy tale Joseph Smith invented is no different than the one Moses or Muhammed invented.

      June 21, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
    • Mashstream

      You need to send them somewhere besides the Mormon church's official web site. The belief in a pre-existence that ranks your station in this life, that Jesus was the brother of Satan, and the life of Joseph Smith are not really fleshed out until you join the church.

      June 21, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
    • Joseph Smith

      Peeeeeeenis!!!!

      June 21, 2012 at 5:46 pm |
    • LinSea

      @Michael, your comment betrays either your ignorance or your bigotry. I don't know which reason is more pathetic.

      June 21, 2012 at 6:06 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.