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. John the Historian

    In the very unlikely event Romney were to get elected what will be the new US capital, Nauvoo, Salt Lake City or Kolob the planet ????

    June 21, 2012 at 6:45 pm |
    • KM

      Only because you suggested it John....

      June 21, 2012 at 6:46 pm |
    • Manitoba Hoser

      He's going to find out where you live and set up his headquarters in your bedroom. He'll take your wife, too.

      June 21, 2012 at 6:47 pm |
    • Manitoba Hoser

      And your wife will voluntarily go with him because he's got money and your broke on your ass. You wife isn't stupid.

      June 21, 2012 at 7:02 pm |
    • John

      Poor John The Non-Historian. It's not easy to be as bigoted and simple as you obviously are. You must be one of the 25% of voters that don't have a High School Diploma that would not vote for a Mormon.

      June 21, 2012 at 7:07 pm |
  2. Harry

    Religion is a choice to accept the completely implausible as fact. Why should anyone who believes in made up sky gods be in an important position of power like POTUS?

    June 21, 2012 at 6:43 pm |
    • KM

      Does that mean you are also disparaging the Founding Fathers? Who, by the way in many instances, were quite devout as well...

      June 21, 2012 at 6:48 pm |
    • Atheist Hoser

      No they weren't. This isn't a country built on religion. Thomas Jefferson re-wrote the bible.. Ben Franklin hated Lutherans.
      "In God We Trust" was a ruse by Eisenhower. W T F. Don't you people listen to the atheists? Are you all ignorant?

      June 21, 2012 at 6:51 pm |
    • KM

      There were a LOT more Founding Fathers than the two you mentioned. Many of which were highly devout. George Washington was considered highly devout and possessing the qualities of greatness, including belief in a supreme being as a qualification for our nation's highest office and first president. As such, I beg to differ...strongly.

      June 21, 2012 at 6:55 pm |
    • Atheist Hoser

      Washington was one of the many weak-willed sheeple of his day. it was probably because he was so hungry during Valley Forge that he actually resorted to prayer. Trust me, if he wasn't hungry he wouldn't have prayed.

      June 21, 2012 at 7:00 pm |
    • Atheist Hoser

      KM got all excited and put his reply in the wrong place, so...


      It amuses me to no end that you could characterize George Washington as being "weak minded". Nothing could be further from the truth. Those who survived Valley Forge may have been many things, but weak minded was not one of them. In reference to his characterization as a "sheep", I suspect you would not have said that to his face. According to historical accounts, he was quite intimidating. I think you should change your name from "Athiest" to "Anti-American"....

      I think we should eliminate all the Army chaplains too. It would make our soldiers stronger not having to lean on the crutch of religion. Praying in battle? I mean, really. Why bother? Better to shoot straight and often than waste time on prayer. You'll get your ass shot off praying.

      Get it yet, KM?

      June 21, 2012 at 7:46 pm |
  3. bev1014

    WAS a Mormon–they are very secretive on all accounts–the temple ceremony has you changing clothes & being rubbed with oils & the wearing of sacred under garments–all kinds so of things I refused to participate in. Check out exMormons.org for a few of their demands. There are hundreds on this site that were born into Mormonism & have left–they are shunned.

    June 21, 2012 at 6:40 pm |
    • Jez

      Plus, Mormons have a horrible history with American black people. Purgatory was the best a black person could get as children of Cain. It wasn't until the 1970s – get that – only 40 years ago that some genius in the Mormon church had some revelation that black people could join the church, due to the government being on their backs. Try to find an American black person in their church – the few blacks that are there are not from America.
      Their bigamous earlier lifestyles don't speak well towards women.
      Lastly, the Book of Mormon is not the Bible, not that I'm religious.
      Of course Mormons have problems with their image.

      June 21, 2012 at 6:49 pm |
    • KM

      You might also want to look at the checkered past of other religious groups such as the Baptists as well. There's a reason why they were called "black churches" and "white churches" (Especially in the South). Please don't make the argument so single-minded as to think that bigotry is confined to the Mormon Church.

      June 21, 2012 at 6:59 pm |
    • KM

      It amuses me to no end that you could characterize George Washington as being "weak minded". Nothing could be further from the truth. Those who survived Valley Forge may have been many things, but weak minded was not one of them. In reference to his characterization as a "sheep", I suspect you would not have said that to his face. According to historical accounts, he was quite intimidating. I think you should change your name from "Athiest" to "Anti-American"....

      June 21, 2012 at 7:09 pm |
  4. Robert

    People who do not vote for Mitt Romney because he is Mormon are generally less educated. Typically not college folks from high powered schools. A blind man can see that Mitt is an excellent candidate.

    June 21, 2012 at 6:40 pm |
    • John N. Seattle, WA

      ...says the chicken when he votes for Col. Sanders!

      June 21, 2012 at 6:43 pm |
    • Harry

      Oh, you must be going on the "we need a businessman" mistake. Remember, we already had one MBA: Bush. Let's not make that mistake again! Even you, given you're high powered education, can see the huge mistake that was! No businessmen, ever again as president.

      June 21, 2012 at 6:51 pm |
    • Harry

      ...and no religious people either. Only philosophers should be POTUS!

      June 21, 2012 at 6:52 pm |
    • Professor Hoser

      Elect me! I'm tenured! I even blog on socialistworker.org!!

      June 21, 2012 at 6:54 pm |
  5. norm

    "18% of Americans saying they would not vote for a well-qualified candidate who happened to be Mormon"

    You don't just "happen" to be a Mormon. It's an indication of a serious incapacity for rational thought.

    June 21, 2012 at 6:39 pm |
    • KM

      Could you just "happen" to not be Mormon? Or is that just dumb luck too?

      June 21, 2012 at 6:45 pm |
  6. atheists reject only one religion, the one they grew up with

    Mormons believe in weird things...

    June 21, 2012 at 6:38 pm |
  7. John the Historian

    Mormon cult is only a cult. Jesus Christ never preached to the American Indians. This is an historical fact. Their are Roman records of Christ and Pontius Pilate. No records of Jesus Christ in America. I would like to know why American Indians are not in the majority mormon cult followers. Joseph Smith never received any golden tablets. Put them on display, even Catholics display relics. Joseph Smith died in a gun battle so was no man of peace. Joseph Smith was a con man and a polygamist. Brigham Young massacred non-mormons in Utah. Brigham Young was a polygamist. Mormons only gave up polygamy so Utah would become a state in 1890. Mormons ahve banned caffeine, interracial marriage, black priests and still persecute Gays. When will mormons admit their cult is wrong and has made mistakes. I have never heard Romney say mormonism HAS MADE MISTAKES. Why ???

    June 21, 2012 at 6:37 pm |
    • KM

      Perhaps he was just waiting for someone like you to point it out. Apparently, for whatever reason, there are people that have decided that maybe Mormonism is not "wrong". You'll probably just have to live with that....

      June 21, 2012 at 6:42 pm |
  8. Pauly

    I don't care if someone is a Mormon, I'd still vote for them if I liked what they had to say.

    Now if someone was blonde and running for president, forget it!!!!

    June 21, 2012 at 6:35 pm |
    • chemmajor

      I don't know of a Mormon running for president that I agree with. So, I'll stick with the Christian winner, Obama.

      June 21, 2012 at 6:45 pm |
    • Pastor Hoser

      "Christian winner" Oh, fuk me. I can't stop laughing!! 😆

      chemmajor's been sniffing too much during class.

      June 21, 2012 at 7:05 pm |
  9. Dunlar

    It's a cult, just a newer cult than the other religions. Wouldn't it be nice if we were all just good to each other, for the sake of being good to one another, without the promise of an afterlife. That just seems more genuine to me.

    June 21, 2012 at 6:35 pm |
    • Manitoba Hoser

      "Wouldn't it be nice if we were all just good to each other, for the sake of being good to one another, without the promise of an afterlife."

      Why not just be good to each other irrespective of any promises at all? 'Eh?

      June 21, 2012 at 6:42 pm |
  10. therentistoodamnhigh

    Time for one of the SuperPACs to do a program about what the Mormons believe and whats in the Book of Mormon. I'm not sure whether the Dems should do it as an attack ad or the Repubs should do it to frame the debate, but its high time that the Mormon faith went under the microscope.

    June 21, 2012 at 6:32 pm |
    • KM

      Certainly, as everyone knows, the Republican Party intends to add elements of Mormonism to it's party platform.

      June 21, 2012 at 6:36 pm |
    • peter

      Last thing the superpacs on the republican side want to do is talk about the mormon religion.

      June 21, 2012 at 6:37 pm |
  11. Elphaba

    Well, thank God for this. That means the "Idiot Vote" will either stay home or vote for Ron Paul. Good news for the Democrats either way.

    June 21, 2012 at 6:28 pm |
    • norm

      How interesting that you didn't recognize democrats as part of the "Idiot Vote".

      June 21, 2012 at 6:37 pm |
    • Manitoba Hoser

      Fuk the democrats. You're going to get a surprise in November, and even then you delusional little radicals won't believe it. Ohhhh. – what went wrong? Didn't the immigrants vote the right way? And after all we did for them in Florida, Arizona and New Mexico. Barry even promised not to send any illegal kids home. What more should we've done? Guess there weren't enough illegal immigrants, so you'll have to ship in more next time.

      June 21, 2012 at 6:40 pm |
  12. Andrew

    Mormons: Still Batsh@# Crazy after 100 plus years.

    June 21, 2012 at 6:27 pm |
  13. mark clinton

    I have lived around a lot of Mormons for the past six years and they are some of the kindest, most genuine, hard working people I know. I cannot see how this can be an issue for so many people.

    June 21, 2012 at 6:25 pm |
    • peter

      The issue is the book of mormon,another testament of jesus christ is not the word of God. It doesn't matter how moral or good they are

      June 21, 2012 at 6:26 pm |
    • KM

      Ditto, I served with a Mormon in the Navy. He was a good guy, hard working, and faithful to his wife and family. More than can be said for folks from a lot of other religions.

      June 21, 2012 at 6:27 pm |
    • peter

      km–there is no doubt that they are mormons,muslims and scientologists like your friend

      June 21, 2012 at 6:30 pm |
    • KM

      The issue is, in YOUR opinion, the Book of Mormon is not the word of God. To think that your own belief is the only true belief is the sheer human arrogance.

      June 21, 2012 at 6:34 pm |
    • peter

      KM–not only do i affirm that the book of mormon,another testament of jesus christ is not the word of God; chritendom affirms it

      June 21, 2012 at 6:39 pm |
    • Bajadelmar

      Try questioning their faith and then see how they treat you. The same goes for people that leave the church, most of the time if they come from a strong LDS family they will be shunned/disowned by their "kind" family. Lived there for 30 years going back into that State of denial gives me the creeps.

      June 21, 2012 at 6:39 pm |
  14. KM

    I think the many Americans right now believe most fervently in how nice it would be to have a job. Perhaps the arguments concerning the merits of Mormonism and Christianity should be relegated to religious scholars. The presidential election is not intended to elect the head of the American church (Which doesn't exist by the way, if you weren't sure). It's merely a smokescreen argument.

    June 21, 2012 at 6:23 pm |
  15. sativa619

    In the late 1820s, Smith's son, Joseph Jr., began to tell the family about Golden Plates, which he said contained a record of the ancient inhabitants of the Americas. In September 1827, Joseph Jr. said he obtained the plates, which Joseph Sr. testified he felt and lifted.[6] In the following years, Joseph Jr. claimed to translate the plates into English through the use of the Urim and Thummim, a sacred device given to him by an angel of God. When the work was near completion, at the end of June 1829, Joseph Sr., and seven other men signed a joint statement, testifying that they had both lifted the plates and seen the engravings on the plates. Known as the "Testimony of the Eight Witnesses", this statement was published with the first edition of the Book of Mormon and has been a part of nearly all subsequent editions.
    Joseph Smith Sr. was baptised as one of six founding members, when the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints (called the Church of Christ until 1838) was organized on April 6, 1830. When Joseph Jr. saw Joseph Sr. come up out of the water, he is reported to have cried, "Oh! My God I have lived to see my own father baptized into the true church of Jesus Christ!"[7]

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

      Where are the plates now? Why would anyone believe these guys if the plates can't be delivered for public observation? This religion is just hocus-pocus and anyone who believes this rubbish isn't fit for the presidency.

      June 21, 2012 at 6:37 pm |
  16. ShawnDH

    All religions are ridiculous, but Mormonism is Scientology-like in its pure absurdity. Add that to Mormons' truly deranged after death baptisms of Jews and others, and their active oppression of gay people and I can say that no I do not want a Mormon in the White House.

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

      In your opinion all religions are ridiculous. To many people, your non-belief is equally ridiculous.

      June 21, 2012 at 6:31 pm |
  17. Trent

    Religion is stupid. Wake up and get with reality and stop talking to your imaginery flying fairy.

    June 21, 2012 at 6:20 pm |
  18. RC

    There are so very many reasons why not to vote for Romney. Being a Mormon is just one more tick on the list.

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

      Im sitting out the gen election because he is a mormon–thats one republican vote he won't get in a battle state–im not the only republican who feels that way

      June 21, 2012 at 6:23 pm |
    • Voter Hoser

      You're a Republican who's sitting it out 'cause he's Mormon? They you're either a liar or your stupid. Maybe both. Well, probably both.

      June 21, 2012 at 6:58 pm |
  19. Cyprustree

    A friend of mine moved to a predominantly Mormon area and found that she was limited on some activities, couldn't buy alcohol on Sundays, etc, "because the Mormons want it this way". And that's one of my problems with this group.

    If you aren't Mormon, you are not allowed to enter any of their temples. A former coworker, also Mormon, was struggling financially and we found out one reason was she was giving 10% of her earnings to the church "because that's what is required.", she said. But they wouldn't do squat do help her, "one of their own". Doesn't sound very much like what Jesus taught us. This "religion" is elitist and it's their way or the highway if you're unfortunate enough to live in "their" territory! I'd pick the highway and get the heck outta there in a heartbeat. (my friend has actually moved away from there, thank goodness!)

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

      Wether mormons are good or not has nothing to do with the truth of their religion

      June 21, 2012 at 6:32 pm |
    • MormonSteve

      There are places all over this country that don't allow alcohol sales on Sunday... I live in Northern Indiana, and it is that way in my town. When you have a government "by the people for the people" you will find laws like that which suit the majority of the people for the jurisdiction which is covered by the law.

      As for your former coworker's story, I don't buy it... the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has an extensive welfare program which aids with food and bills. Our humanitarian aid program is also very extensive, and is usually one of the first to send aid to those struggling after natural disasters and other calamities. If you want to know the truth about the mormons then visit an official website such as mormon.org

      June 21, 2012 at 6:46 pm |
  20. sativa619

    It's not "Mormon Bias", its a bias against ridiculous stories such as "John Smith looked into a hat, and wrote the book of Mormon after two 'angels' showed him two metallic tablets that would allow him to know the truth". John Smith was a con artist, and was run out of several towns for fraud. Surprising that anyone could entertain such ridiculous stories as truth. THAT is why people are biased. It has nothing to do with being against Mormons as a whole, it has to do with a failure to believe a con.

    June 21, 2012 at 6:19 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.