Romney's faith a factor for GOP primary?
November 23rd, 2011
10:21 AM ET
11 years ago

Romney's faith a factor for GOP primary?

(CNN)-If half the public says they don't know very much about Mormonism and one-third of Republicans say the Mormon religion is not a Christian faith, how will GOP frontrunner Mitt Romney fare in his bid for the White House?

According to a new national survey, it won't affect Romney in a hypothetical general election faceoff with President Barack Obama, but his Mormon faith may have an impact on the former Massachusetts governor's chances in the GOP primaries and caucuses.

Romney is seeking the Republican presidential nomination for a second time and, as it turns out, opinions about his religion haven't changed since he ran the first time, in 2007.

A Pew Research Center poll released late Tuesday indicates that 52% of Americans said they knew "not very much" or nothing about the Mormon religion in 2007, when Romney sought the presidency for the first time, and 50% say the same now. The number who say Mormonism is a Christian religion-51%–is the same in 2011 as it was in 2007.

The poll also indicates that Republican voters who say Mormonism is not a Christian religion are less likely to support Romney for the GOP nomination. Romney's faith may have a bigger impact on his chances in the GOP primary than the general election.

When asked about their preference among eight Republican contenders, Romney edged out businessman Herman Cain for the top spot in the poll 23-22% among GOP registered voters. The one-percentage-point difference between the two candidates falls within the sampling error for the poll and indicates Cain and Romney are statistically tied among Republicans and GOP-leaning voters.

Among white evangelical Protestants, however, Cain has a nine percentage point lead over Romney-26% said they'd choose the former CEO of Godfather's Pizza in a GOP primary, 19% said they'd choose former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, and 17% said they'd support Romney, placing him third. Fifteen percent of evangelicals also said Romney's faith would make them less likely to support him.

When white Catholics and white "mainline" Protestants were questioned about their primary picks, Romney placed first, Cain second, and Gingrich third.

But in a hypothetical general election matchup between Romney and the incumbent President Barack Obama, 87% of Republicans and Republican-leaning voters would coalesce around Romney, a number that increases to 91% among white evangelical Protestants, the group that favored Cain for the nomination.

Tied with Catholics, the poll shows more white evangelical Protestants and Catholics back Romney over Obama in a general election than white "mainline" Protestants-84% said they'd choose Romney in the poll. So while he may have more competition in the GOP primary among evangelicals, if Romney advances to the general, the poll reveals he'd have their support.

The Pew Research Center poll was conducted from November 9-14 by telephone among 1,576 registered voters and 716 Republicans and Republican-leaning voters. The overall sampling error of the poll is plus or minus 2.5 percentage points. The sampling error for Republican and Republican-leaning voters is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

Filed under: 2012 • Faith • GOP • Mitt Romney • Polls
soundoff (248 Responses)
  1. abtime

    Thank goodness there is discussion about the candidates' faith. The history of Mormonism does not bode well for women. In a society where women have struggled for over 100 years to attain rights, a President whose faith is steeped in that history only serves to threaten those rights. All women, Dems, GOP and IND are in grave danger under such a person. It is widely known that tens of thousands of women are suffering in splinter groups of that religion this very day.

    November 24, 2011 12:15 am at 12:15 am |
  2. Anne S.

    Seems to me back when Kennedy was running everyone thought he would push his Catholic religion off on us all. Well guess what? It didn't happen!!! I'll admit I don't know that much about Romney or the Mormons. Also when all of the other presidents were in office were we ever pushed in to their religion or beliefs? No, I didn't think so.

    November 24, 2011 12:47 am at 12:47 am |
  3. yahmez

    My comment will probably be flagged as inappropriate, but I need to say my piece. Mormonism is a branch of christianity that is obviously made up. Joseph Smith claimed to find some golden plates with indecipherable writing on them. God granted him, and only him, the ability to decipher them. He then wrote the book of mormon. Somebody said hey Joe, I wanna see those plates. Joseph Smith then claimed, uh, god took them back, you will just have to trust me, mmmmmkay.
    This is as bogus a cult as scientology, in my honest opinion. I would not vote for a mormon.

    November 24, 2011 12:52 am at 12:52 am |
  4. J.V.Hodgson

    On the Republican side of the matter of Romneys Mormon faith I find that they have a double standard in more than one sense.
    1) Constitutionally the founding fathers said keep religion out of politics, but here we Americans clearly put religion into the political environment, even to the extent of how they may vote.
    2) Most Americans ( do a poll) would be against an Islamic style system where laws are based on the Biblical ( or in muslims case) Qu'ranic dictates i.e sharia law. Incidentally different message interpretations from the SAME GOD!!
    3)The constitution clearly gives freedom of religion to all, it clearly does not allow also discrimination to interfere in the decision as to which candidate to support.The people that put religious persuasion above all else in deciding how to vote are aiming for a government which passes laws that follow and support its religious beliefs.
    Sorry I do not want to live in that kind of society.
    Our founding fathers came here to get away from religious based persecution of minorities in many cases.
    Leave it out of who should be an elected person to represent you in the House or Senate
    Laws will not eliminate abortion or the existence of gays, lesbians or transvestites, like it or not those individuals are part of the wonderful mosaic of living life in freedom and ones own individual pursuit of happiness.

    November 24, 2011 12:53 am at 12:53 am |
  5. Anonymous

    Sometimes I am amazed at the ignorance and bigotry that exists among people who claim to be Christian. Can someone here really explain how a Mormon president is going to hurt this country more than the so-called Christians? Mormons share many of the same values as other Christian churches, so what is going to be so different?

    November 24, 2011 12:57 am at 12:57 am |
  6. Stephanie

    Lying and/or saying hurtful things about another person is one thing, but since when does changing your mind or opinion on something make you a horrible person?? There is not one person in this world who has NEVER once changed their mind at one point or another. So what if someone changes their mind, get over it! Why do we make HUGE issues out of things that should not be issues to begin with. If someone outside of politics changed their mind, it would not be such a big deal, but if a politician does–Heaven help us all!

    November 24, 2011 03:02 am at 3:02 am |
  7. Rhonda Adams

    If the GOP does embellish Christianity, then, Romney's faith should be a factor. The majority of the people I have encountered in the LDS church actually attempt to live in a Christlike manner – they walk the walk – most Protestants just talk the talk these days. As a Baptist for 46 years and a converted Mormon for 5 years – it was a desire for my son to have a meaningful relationship with Christ that first swayed me to convert – the missionaries that the LDS church sends out in the world are some of the best kids left in the United States – no drugs, no drunkeness or other diversions (no clutter as the great Nick Saban would call it). These kids just have a desire to learn, be good family men and live their life for Christ and they are among some of the most intelligent, knowledgeable and decent young men I've ever met. I wanted that lifestyle for my son. Personally, I feel like the LDS church is the only hope this country has left but yes, I know how opinions are – just offering my humble opinion. NOW, BLAST AWAY antagonists – I know it's coming! Happy Thanksgiving to everyone and may God bless you, your family and this country on this holiday and every day.

    November 24, 2011 03:31 am at 3:31 am |
  8. Mike in Montana

    Before you make a judgement on 'The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' or often called the LDS Church and or Mormons. Do a little research. May it be by book or books or internet, (e.g., Google, Bing, etc..), try YouTube, where you will see and hear people talking about the LDS Church, some directly from the church itself and some that no longer belong to the church and why.. Their main doctrine is NOT the trinity, they do not believe in the trinity, the LDS Church members believe there are three separate Gods, (God, Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost), not the Holy Spirit. Other important points to look up would be.., is self-made Prophet Joseph Smith a real prophet ? Did he really see and talk with God and Jesus Christ in the 'human flesh', not spirit. Did an angel called Moroni, tell Joseph Smith about the gold plates, which would become 'The Book of Mormon' or the blue book and where they were buried. If so.., where are the gold plates, now ? Check on what language the gold plates were in.. How did Joseph Smith translate those gold plates ? What about Jesus Christ in South America.., thousands of years after his death. What about all of those secret rituals, handshakes and words.. Don't laugh.., ask any LDS Church member about wearing secret sacred underwear. That one got me, too. They also believe that you can become a prophet or a God with the LDS Church. Ask or research, two of their books, by prophets within the LDS Church, 'The Doctrine and Convenants' and 'The Pearl of Great Price'. There are many problems within the LDS Church, including their past and present feelings toward people of another religion, race or color and or being gay. Well.., the choice is yours, to research for yourself and find out, if you believe they are a cult or not. They certainly are NOT mainstream Christianity. Then ask yourself.., do I really want someone in The White House with those beliefs and doctrines ? Enjoy your research and think for awhile.. Thank you for reading.. Mike in Montana

    November 24, 2011 04:13 am at 4:13 am |
  9. jdoe

    Mormons are very nice people and helpful to others. If those others are Mormon as well. For everybody else, not so much.

    November 24, 2011 05:23 am at 5:23 am |
  10. Thewwie

    The last thing about Willard that concerns me is which cult he belongs to. These two quotes from the robo candidate says it all. "Corporations are people" & i am not looking to put money in people's wallets". if anyone represents the one percent its Mitt.

    November 24, 2011 06:16 am at 6:16 am |
  11. Tim

    Romney did not win a single primary in the 19 southern states in the 2007-08 primary. Why should this prmiary election cycle be different? I do not believe Romney has any chance of winning the GOP primary unless they go into their convention without a nominee. Under that scenario, Romney could possibly be chosen as the party's nominee with someone like Perry or Gingrich as VP nominee.

    November 24, 2011 07:10 am at 7:10 am |
  12. Bernard Webb

    The republican party has turned into a cult religion underpinned by a criminal enterprise. republicans lie and cheat so routinely it is second nature for them now. (See Romney's recent lying anti-Obama campaign ad for a particularly scummy example.) The republican church has a number of demonstrably false doctrines, including (1) cutting taxes on billionaires creates jobs and benefits everyone, even though bush did that and nothing of the kind happened, (2) deregulating the financial industry is the key to avoiding future fiscal crises caused by lying, cheating, and stealing by banks, even though bush did that and caused a global economic collapse, (3) all science, and in fact anything that is the result of thought, wisdom, and logic, is automatically false and wrong, and (4) the preachers on Fox "News" are fair and balanced and produce an informed electorate, although a recent survey (performed by lying, money-grubbing scientists, of course) verified earlier research showing that Fox "News" viewers are substantially less informed than a person who stares at a blank TV screen all day and watches no news at all!

    Every conservative is not stupid, but I swear that every mouth-breathing, uneducated, bigoted fool in the land gravitates to conservatism just as surely as flies "gravitate" to cow poop.

    November 24, 2011 07:14 am at 7:14 am |
  13. Smokey

    Personally, I think Romney's Mormonism is an asset. Mormons are typically sober, cautious, sensible and conservative with a strong sense of personal morals. America needs that in a leader today. Look at President Obama, he admitted in his book that he smoked weed and used cocaine. President Bush famously said he "didn't want kids to what I did." President Clinton "didn't inhale." A Mormon President might be just what the country needs!

    November 24, 2011 08:29 am at 8:29 am |
  14. Donkey Party

    Jesus and his dad are liberals. Vote accordingly.

    November 24, 2011 08:41 am at 8:41 am |
  15. Purnell Meagre

    It's pretty clear that all Romney needs to do is find Jesus if he wants the nomination.

    November 24, 2011 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  16. zb

    The problem with Romney is not his faith but his hypocrisy.

    November 24, 2011 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  17. feddupp

    Religion certainly didn't matter in the last election when the majority of the electoral college put someone in the white house with, at the very least, muslim background and education, questionable lineage and birth place, and an open renunciation of many of the things america holds dear. why would someone with more political experience who embraces the foundations of america, is undeniably american by birth, but mormon...make any difference except to the left?

    The reason we don't have any better candidates is the fact anyone worth a crap wouldn't run because of the mud, the distortion and the outright lies generated by BOTH sides...left and right...and promulgated by the MSM.

    November 24, 2011 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  18. Porter Rockwell

    Before the Evangelical crowd starts in on Romney, please have them explain who Jesus was talking to when he was nailed to the Cross? Or who He was praying to in the Garden? Or who He told the people to pray to......Himself?

    The Mormons can tell you EXACTLY who God the Father is VS. Jesus Christ, the Son.

    The Mormons can tell you EXACTLY what Jesus mean't when he said, "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect." (Matthew 5:48) If we can't become like our Heavenly Father, why would Jesus command us to try?

    BTW.....The name of the "Mormon" church is "The Church of JESUS CHRIST of Latter Day Saints"......sounds VERY Christian to me?

    November 24, 2011 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  19. Eli

    The hateful Mainstream Media never misses an opportunity to raise the issue of Romney's faith.

    November 24, 2011 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  20. Jim Ryan

    Let me clue the believers into this, delusion is delusion. All religion is based on one's buy into delusional wish thinking, I don't care if you're Christian, Mu sl im, Hindu or believe in Thor. As Hitchens said, "Religion depends on unchallengeable statements, dogma and faith. Believers are only certain of the principal of uncertainty, manmade delusions including false counseling, claiming to know the mind of God and the origination and destiny of the universe". So any rationale presented here to support or not based on religious beliefs is itself, hypocritical, arrogant and diluted thinking.

    November 24, 2011 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  21. Spencer B

    Romney has my vote. I have no problem at all with the LDS faith. I know many wonderful LDS people who practice what they preach. Why should we have hard time voting for someone who believes that Jesus Christ appeared to Joseph Smith, or that Joseph Smith translated golden plates? What do most Christians believe again? Oh yeah, a man survived 3 days in the belly of a can survive in fiery furnaces...Jesus walked on the water...Jesus fed 2000 with 3 loaves and fishes...why should it be hard to believe that similar miracles happen today?

    There are some who are concerned that Romney will 'impose' his religion on America. This means gay rights and abortion will be abolished, everyone will be forced to listen to the mormon tabernacle choir, etc. What about check and balances? Do you really think the President of the United States will be able to implement such radical changes without congress or the senate blocking these bills? Lets get real people. You should vote for your next president based on his policies, previous practices, and future goals.

    What else do you know about Romney besides the fact that he is mormon, and the rhetoric that he is a flip-flopper? Please be educated, and if you are going to criticize him, do it on his political stance (this is a political debate). Cut past the "I would never vote for a mormon", and "romney is a flip flopper" (who isn't?) Lets keep this forum based on political debate...not anti-mormon opinions.

    November 24, 2011 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  22. fgf

    it would be a great idea to just end the disrespect everyone gives to everyone else

    November 24, 2011 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  23. Eagle Eye_1

    Who cares about Romeny;s faith, is his faith going to hurt people? I doubt it. If he's a Mormon who cares. Under the Constitution he is entitled to his faith, no one has the right to criticize his faith. If people of other faiths wouldn't like someone saying you can't worship the faith you want because we don't like it so go off this. The only ones who are making a big deal about this is the liberal press and the people who feel that Romeny should practice their faith because they say so. Don't forget that JFK was a Roman Catholic and he was Irish. I say let everyone practice their own faith and tell the liberal press to take a hike.

    November 24, 2011 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
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