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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.

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"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. Swan Enoch Yoon

    Mormon's problem is their deception of their strategy. They do not believe the uniqueness of Jesus Christ as the Son of God, the only Savior while using the name of Christ in their church's name. Many are fooled by it. Mormon should change their name eliminating the name of Jesus Christ and be honest.

    June 21, 2012 at 6:19 pm |
    • David

      I am Mormon and I believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God and through Him and only through Him can I be saved.

      June 21, 2012 at 6:29 pm |
  2. peter

    The article is pure bs-Republicans like me who think that the book of mormon is not the word of God and take issue with it are going to sit out the gen election
    Are there republicans who think that mormons are a cult and not christians and will vote for romney? yes–but enough will sit out--ill give you a perfect example, my first cousin is getting married to a christian like herself a few weeks from now–and neither side of the family will be voting for romney

    June 21, 2012 at 6:19 pm |
  3. Gary

    Mitt being a Mormon is the least of worries I have about him...

    June 21, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
  4. onestarman

    It isn't that Americans don't like MORMONS – They Don't Like THIS Mormon. Why should They? For 'Sport' the Romneys Enjoy 'DRESSAGE' or riding 'Prancing Ponies' and Willard Mitt Romney so loves a good 'prank' that in his YOUTH when Not cutting the hair of the Boy held down by his friends he was pulling Over MOTORISTS for Who Knows WHAT with a Red Light and State Troopers Uniform his Father the Governor gave him – WHAT FUN

    June 21, 2012 at 6:15 pm |
  5. happyfrenchman

    Yeah, but how many of these same bigots would never vote for a black guy either... this is a real quandry for American bigots... I am voting most of them will go for the white guy.

    June 21, 2012 at 6:13 pm |
    • KM

      You do recall the current POTUS is black and did win the popular vote?

      June 21, 2012 at 6:19 pm |
    • Manitoba Hoser

      Actually, he's sort of a Crayola medium burnt-sienna brown.

      June 21, 2012 at 6:45 pm |
  6. Doug

    Anti-Mormonism is just a function of Mormonism's success. And Mormonism's success has threatened traditional Christianity through a widespread missionary program that has been very successful. More converts to Mormonism is simply an economic threat to the salaries of career pastors. While the Mormon Church has substantial funds, none of its clergy are paid.

    Economic threat is the only thing that explains why "mainstream" Christians are so opposed to a religion that is so closely aligned with "mainstream" Christian values like fidelity, honesty, family values, etc. It also explains why mainstream Christians are concerned about the evils of Mormonism and spend almost no effort or time fighting Buddahism or any other Eastern religion. Buddahists do not proselyte or threaten Christian congregations, so they are accepted for what they are without the intense slander that Mormons have to endure.

    June 21, 2012 at 6:13 pm |
    • lroy

      The current president is denying us religious liberty, forcing HHS mandates, supports pro-abortion groups such as Planned Parenthood, NARAL, supports gay rights. I wouldn't vote Obama for dog cater. I'll be voting for Mitt and getting Obama SO out of DC.

      June 21, 2012 at 6:20 pm |
    • onestarman

      I must admit that I am Puzzled at why there are a number of Good People who follow a Religion that teaches Jesus is the Brother of Lucifer and god lives on the Planet KOLOB and will make YOU a god too if you do all the right 'Magic' – but if you DON'T do the Magic (like us DUMB Christians) you ONLY get to be a 'Ministering Angel' servant of the Mormon GODS.

      June 21, 2012 at 6:23 pm |
  7. KM

    It's comical to listen to the likes of such small-minded people on here. To the extent that people express their dislike and concern for a Mormon now, the same occurred when JFK ran for POTUS. People were unsettled by the idea of having a Catholic as POTUS. I personally could care less what the religious afiliation of the president is (Within reason). I'm more interested in which candidate can do a better job of managing the train wreck we call an economy right now. The idea of painting a picture of Romney as some religious extremist suits the modus of the Democratic party, since it's easier to tear down one's opponent than to run on one's own record. How about debating the merits of which candidate can do a better job, based upon knowledge and political experience, or is that not a fair argument?

    June 21, 2012 at 6:11 pm |
  8. Only Human

    People says "God made man in his own image." That can't be true, because human is full of flaws.

    I say "Man made God in his own image." Because I see plenty of flaws in the Gods that I hear from the holy books. Gods are too "human" to be Gods.

    Imagine you have a son who you didn't get to meet until very late in your life, and he doesn't wanna believe you are his father / mother, would you wish him ill?

    I know I won't, but the Gods that people describe will damn non believers to hell. Does that make me greater than their Gods?

    Is there really a Creator? I don't know, but what I do know is if there is one, he is not the one described in any of the "holy books".

    June 21, 2012 at 6:09 pm |
  9. Rocinante

    I suggest that some of you talk to a neighbor or coworker who is Mormon to see what you have in common.

    June 21, 2012 at 6:07 pm |
  10. Terry

    I could have saved the pollsters the costs associated with a national poll. Anyone who trusts a Mormon has not been screwed by a Mormon. Go ahead, elect Romney and see what it feels like to be taken down by the Anti-Christ Church.

    June 21, 2012 at 6:03 pm |
    • meli

      Obviously have never been to a church meeting. Sad that the member of the church that you encounter, did not portray their beliefs....

      June 21, 2012 at 6:07 pm |
  11. Sane

    After I die and am babtised mormon I will vote for Romney, cause dead republicans vote in every election.

    June 21, 2012 at 6:01 pm |
    • KM

      Same can be said for dead Democrats. It happens on both sides of the aisle...

      June 21, 2012 at 6:03 pm |
  12. the voice of reason

    This is like the reverse of Mel Brooks saying...I bring these 15...oops....10 commandments. Mormans say we have these 2...oops, 3 books. ALL religion ends up breaking down to the same thing. Control. Time and time again, surveys show that (in general) the more intelligent the person, the less religion they accept.. PS...I got this bridge in brooklyn I can give you a great deal on;-)

    June 21, 2012 at 5:56 pm |
  13. Ben

    This is what you should expect for the next 5 months. A string of articles where CNN and the objective media point out items about the Mormons, thoughts on Mormons, insane Mormon fringe groups, etc., etc., etc. to attack Romney based on his faith while stating they are not...I suspect we will see at least 3 stories about old men marrying multiple underage girls before the summer is over...none about the Islamic School where the president went in Indonesia, but pleanty o anti Mormon stuff.

    June 21, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
    • steve

      Mormonism is a cult. Explain the disassociation from family and media during missionary trips.

      June 21, 2012 at 5:56 pm |
    • Brother Maynard

      Ben
      Which action do you think would endear to US Christians?
      An individual that abandonds his Islamic School Teachings in Indonesia ( when he was a child none the less )
      or an adult that holds on to the Mormon faith.

      June 21, 2012 at 6:13 pm |
  14. Brother Maynard

    All Mormons
    please explain the Curse of Cain, when and why it was abandonded.
    Doesn't that lessen the teachings of your founder J Smith ?
    Doesn't that force you to admit the morality is relative ?

    June 21, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
    • Ben

      Why should Mormons snap to and answer you? Ironically, I am sure you did not demand that black preachers snap to and answer Wright and his hate speach...heck, you didn't even demand that Obama, a 20-year member of the church do it.

      June 21, 2012 at 5:56 pm |
    • Brother Maynard

      Ben
      you are right, I made no demands of Obama nor Wright nor black preachers. But the article is about Romney and Mormonism not Obama and Christianity
      If it makes you feel any better I think Obama is as insane in his belief of Chritianity as Romney and his belief in Mormonism
      OH YEA - Still haven't heard any answers to my original question.

      June 21, 2012 at 6:02 pm |
    • meli

      If your questions are honestly real...I would invite you to go to mormon.org. In there you will find what Mormons believe. I would not go to an attorney to get diagnosed for an illness. Go to the right source if you are wanting to know, and not only wanting to mock.

      June 21, 2012 at 6:11 pm |
    • Brother Maynard

      meli
      I'm sorry that you feel that giving the history of a religion is "mocking" it.
      I went to your site mormon.org and when I searched for curse of cain all I got was the biography of some guy that was born in canada and lives in pennsylvania. Very informative /sarcasm.

      June 22, 2012 at 8:43 am |
  15. Nick Naranja

    As much as we heard about Obama's church in 2008, I would expect to hear more about Romney's church. Jeremiah Wright has nothing on the Mormon Church. As far as the assertion that Obama is limiting peoples religious freedoms, give me a break. He is limiting an employers ability to force their religion on their employees. I seriously doubt that all the professors at Notre Dame are Catholics.

    June 21, 2012 at 5:52 pm |
  16. Jim

    Did they ask about Muslims, just in case?

    June 21, 2012 at 5:52 pm |
  17. Jim

    So, what this article says is that Democrats are intolerant by a factor of 2.4 to 1 compared to Republicans. Hey Dems: Don't H8!

    June 21, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
  18. polemicist

    Anyone else feel like watching the Southpark "All About the Mormons" episode?

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

    How can people be so brainwashed?

    June 21, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
    • steve

      I assume you are referring to Mormons as brainwashed– as in sending (required) your children miles away from their family with limited contact (one phone call in 6th months) with no outside media access (no tv, no radio, no newspapers or magazines) on a missionary trip?

      June 21, 2012 at 5:54 pm |
    • tom

      I'm pretty sure he meant all religions because you all have gone off the deep end.

      June 21, 2012 at 5:58 pm |
    • meli

      @steve...and you can ask every single one of them, if they feel brain washed. I can send a couple to your house so you can ask them yourself.

      June 21, 2012 at 6:13 pm |
  20. Mike

    Its not nice to make fun of morons.

    June 21, 2012 at 5:47 pm |
    • NAGGINGMOOSE

      It's not nice to make fun of one's race either!!!!

      June 21, 2012 at 5:57 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.