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

    Unfortunately the republican party has hitched its wagons to the kooky conservative christians (think granny clampett). The voice of reasoned argument is a non-starter with this group. They should have been booted to looneyville years ago along with the amount of political stroke they deserve.....none.

    November 23, 2011 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  2. BMA

    Why all the fuss over a candidates religion? Remember when Kennedy was campaigning for the white house and people feared Catholicism - much ado over nothing! I would 1000 times prefer to have a president who is faithful to his wife, lives by a moral code of ethics, and has proven he can help America economically than one who has cheated on his wife. In the midst of all the scrutiny, we'd do well to remember the wisdom to look at a man's family to accurately see the "success" of the man. Romney has proven he's a great husband, father and grandfather. A man who can successfully "govern" within the walls of his own home is a man America can trust and depend on. Romney will restore our nation from this bankrupt condition we're now in.

    November 23, 2011 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  3. Brian

    The only time I hear about "Romney – Religion – Race – Factor – Issue – Mormon" is on CNN. No one in the real world cares and/or discusses any of this stuff. Stop trying to create an "issue" where there is not one.

    November 23, 2011 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  4. cid394

    Mormon's do not believe in hell in the sense most Christians do. Research before making statements.

    November 23, 2011 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  5. Brian

    Also, this whole Romney "Flip-Flop" thing is a DNC talking point against someone they identified as the #1 threat to Obama. Stop being sheep and do your own research. Everyone has some views that change over the course of 40-50 years. I realize this mudslinging, which is typically unfair and baseless, goes on with both parties. However, Romney is a good man who is not the indecisive candidate he is made out to be. Do not believe the DNC hype.

    November 23, 2011 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  6. JR White Bear Lake MN.

    Its nice to hear the good Christians are getting together secretly behind close doors to figure out how to stick it to Mitt. I don't think thats very Jesus like?

    November 23, 2011 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  7. Rudy NYC

    Anyone who was genuine and really serious about their Christian faith wouldn't commit the sin of becoming a poltician in the first place. Period.

    November 23, 2011 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  8. josh

    Actually people talk about it a lot Brian I wouldn't elect a cult member either. The problem with certain levels of faith – if you can believe Mormonism, you can believe anything, which means you can basically create your truth on a given moment, facts be damned. (Bush was also good at this) The last thing we need is another person who has a reality completely non-dependent on the actual reality the rest of us non-mormons all live in

    November 23, 2011 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  9. curious

    Do Mormons make Herman "Cain" nervous.

    November 23, 2011 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  10. AMM

    Forget religious bigotry, that's not what this is about in my liberal opinion. The Mormon religion is unique in many ways and has an agenda to get into the White House. It always has. I'm sure Romney is highly funded through the Mormon Church. I would never vote Republican anyway, but I certainly hope we don't end up with a Mormon running the country. Hmmm, that does sound kinda bigoted I guess. Oh well.

    November 23, 2011 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  11. Joe The Plumber

    The "Holy Than Thou" crowd are an affront to God and Country!

    November 23, 2011 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  12. Don

    Unbelievable. Earth to evangelicals – grow up.

    November 23, 2011 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  13. josh

    cid394 Just one more way in which Mormons aren't actually "Christian". Thank you for helping prove my point. The fact is, only Mormons are bound to be rulers of/eternal livers in, paradise. Luckily for a lot of dead people, Mormons like to go around baptizing their dead bodies into Mormonism, so that they still have a chance for eternal grace.... how "sweet" of them.

    November 23, 2011 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  14. Socialist for a Socialist America

    Who cares what his religion is? If he gets elected, he's not going to force us all to go to his church.

    November 23, 2011 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  15. josh

    Actually people talk about it a lot Brian I wouldn't elect a cult member either. The problem with certain levels of faith – if you can believe Mormonism, you can believe anything, which means you can basically create your truth on a given moment regardless of those annoying "fact things". (Bush was also good at this) The last thing we need is another person who has a reality completely non-dependent on the actual reality the rest of us non-mormons all live in

    November 23, 2011 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  16. TXJim

    No one in our household would vote for a Mormon. They are not Christians.

    November 23, 2011 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  17. FreeLove

    I think if Romney is elected it will go along way to legitimizing Mormonism and establishing it as the majority religion in this country. You will see legions of people converting to Mormonism under a President Romney. Christianity is on its way out and the Mormon faith is poised to establish its hegemony in the United States.

    November 23, 2011 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  18. Al-NY,NY

    it's only a factor to the zealots who think they can control everyone else because their warped interpretation of a book says so

    November 23, 2011 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  19. Socialist for a Socialist America

    Obama's going to win in 2012 no matter who runs. The US will be better off as a socialist country under him. Hugo Chavez has done wonders in Venezuala. Hopefully Obama can do the same here.

    November 23, 2011 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  20. Lost in Texas FOREVER and EVER

    people that think it's the DNC or progressives that are so concerned need to read the other posting about the CONSERVATIVES tryig to stop Mitt. I think the Dems could care less what religion he is. This is a far right GOP issue not a Democratic one. I have never seen a frontrunner in a party that the party HATES as much as they do Romney.

    November 23, 2011 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  21. Pat in IL

    Get over it! Would you not vote for someone because he/she was Jewish? I still remember the ridiculous hoopla about Kennedy being Catholic. I am mainstream (Methodist) Christian, and have been taught better – by the BIble – that Jesus loves us all, God is the ultimate judge, and a man's behaviors show his merit. Remember, Jesus did not teach "religion" as such. He taught love.

    November 23, 2011 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  22. cmdvimes

    What a shame that belief in invisible friends has anything to do with selecting our leader.

    November 23, 2011 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  23. A Non Mormon Living in Utah

    For those of you who say that his religion should NOT be a deciding factor – look into Utah's politics.

    Utah's government body cannot even sneeze without getting permission from the church and its president.

    FACT! Romney is obligated by his faith to do as the president of the mormon church asks of him.. no matter what the calling.

    The mormon religion has way over reached in Utah in controlling politics, and molding the state into a 'mormon state'.

    If you think that Romney would be anything different – you are sadly mistaken. Our state legislatures meet privately with the mormon church before every session. If the church does not want the issue addressed because it is not in line with the churches policies – it does not get visited. The mormon church has its hands in everything in utah – as a non-mormon from utah – I could never support a mormon president. I have witnessed first hand how much they are willing to push their beliefs onto individuals who do not want it, and how much they do interject their belief system into politics...

    Yes – his faith is an issue.

    November 23, 2011 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  24. It is sad

    I guess whatever "faith" he has is based on lying, stealing, and doing whatever it takes to get what he wants. He is probably like alot of religious nuts... lie and ask for forgiveness.

    November 23, 2011 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  25. jdj

    If Gov. Romney is the nominee, I will hold my nose and vote for him.

    November 23, 2011 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
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