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. Ferret out the B.S.

    A candidate who wears his religion on his sleeve and wants to turn our government into a theocracy is no better than the Islamic based theocratical governments that seem to be creating many of the global problems we face today. What a person's religious beliefs are should be of no concern except if those beliefs are bound to change the course of our government and country to move from one of religious tolerance to one of intolerance. I have yet to see any of the Repuiblican candidates preach tolerance to all in any of their speeches or discussions. We have a diverse society and the leader of this country should support and defend this diversity.

    November 23, 2011 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  2. josh

    A Non Mormon Living in Utah – EXACTLY!!

    November 23, 2011 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  3. josh

    cmdvimes – what are you talking about? What if someone has lots of invisible friends? You know, this is one of those signs of crazy that people look for. I think we should DEFINITELY judge people by the invisible and visible company they keep

    November 23, 2011 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  4. More change less hope

    If the choice is between a Mormon and a socialist I'll take my chances with the Mormon.

    November 23, 2011 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  5. Charlie in Maine

    It is quite a problem for Mitt. They threw a lot of labels at my President as well. some still are. In Obama's favor any =one stupid enough to think he is a Miuslim or a socialist won't be smart enough to vote for him anyway. For Mitt though that is his base. Yes quite a problem , for Mitt.

    November 23, 2011 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  6. Doug in NYC

    Seems like children, "my cult is better then your cult"

    November 23, 2011 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  7. Namecat

    Romney was a mormon missionary whose focus was to convert people bcoz he respected other religions a lot. Give me a break now that he runs for president he claims freedom of religion

    November 23, 2011 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  8. MeganKI

    I feel the media is going after Romney (anyone else notice how he was given the least time in last night's debate) because he is the biggest threat to Obama. He has been consistent in the polls and he has the ability to attract independents. Watch for the tearing down of Romney to come. Romney is my pick. He loves America. His answers in debates are confident, quick, full of accurate information and they are inspiring. And mostly...I do not want to see Obama reelected. Romney is our best choice to lead America. I am an evangelical Christian, and his being a Mormon does not bother me. Obama says he is a "Christian" yet I see nothing in him that wants to honor God in our country.

    November 23, 2011 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  9. Emma

    Many people don't realize the truth. Do you know that the term "Mormon" is a slang and that the real name for the Mormon religion is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints? LDS is the proper term for the religious group. If you are going to choose to not vote for Romney, at least base it off of political issues and not personal and untrue opinions about someones religious beliefs.

    November 23, 2011 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  10. sunpacific

    "Romney's faith may have a bigger impact on his chances in the GOP primary than the general election." Of course, the people in the GOP primaries are right-wing-bible-thumping-creationist-zealots. The fact that it won't affect him much in the general election goes to show that outside the teapublican crowd, Americans are actually reasonable and open-minded.

    November 23, 2011 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  11. Laverne

    Why is it when everyone was trying to pin the Muslim religion on President Obama (WHICH HE IS NOT) it was an outrage and now that someone elses faith has come into question, well it's okay. I will tell you why, some Americans are so two-faced and have such a double standard! How can one NOT think that race played a huge part in how President Obama was treated when he over and over professed he was a Christian and even though Jerimiah Wright may have said some provocative things, he too claim to be Christian. I guess as long as the skin color is white, it does not matter what religion he/she is, they could be an athiest and it would be okay!

    November 23, 2011 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  12. 5041360

    republicans are a dying breed= way to far to the right= Obama will win in 2012- Elizabeth Warren in 2016- republicans have run out of credible candidates, Look at the crowd we have today-

    November 23, 2011 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  13. Rudy NYC

    Gov. Romney's biggest problem shows itself in his ads. Romney cannot run ads touting his record, because he has shifted positions too much. So, he must run negative and deceitful ads. A fine representative of a god-fearing man he is not.

    November 23, 2011 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  14. Paul Abeln

    Romney's faith is a red herring; that is, he really does not apply his faith to his personal behavior. Case in point: Romney has no problem lying about a quote he uses against President Obama in his recent TV ad. If he is willing to blatantly lie about an Obama quote, why does he make himself out to be a religious person? Becasue he is not really religious–it's just something to use to get votes.

    November 23, 2011 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  15. ST

    Election is all about making choices. Why anyone should make any choice which they are not comfortable of. Those who are not comfortable of his religion let them go with their hearts. I do not blame them at all.

    November 23, 2011 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  16. Richard

    People should read the book of mormon, IO'll bet the Evangelicals have. If the mittens gets in maybe he will initiate the process they use to convert dead people. That's right this is not propaganda, they convert dead people to the mormon religion. They don't need your permission to do it. They will convert anyone the choose.

    November 23, 2011 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  17. Terry

    Sorry, I will not vote for Romney. The healthcare plan he signed into law in Massachusetts is the same plan people call Obama Care. Romney will tell you what he wants you to hear and go right behind your back and do the opposite. If you want to know how he will treat a non-Mormon, try living in Utah and not be a Mormon.

    November 23, 2011 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  18. Sniffit

    Given Mittens' penchant forspinless, submissive, say-anything flip-flopping, I don't think it's accurate to imply that he has "faith" of ANY kind.

    November 23, 2011 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  19. Rudy NYC

    More change less hope wrote:

    If the choice is between a Mormon and a socialist I'll take my chances with the Mormon.

    "Socialists argue that socialism is about bringing human social organization up to the level of current technological capability to fully take advantage of modern technology. They argue that capitalism is either obsolete or approaching obsolescence as a viable system for producing and distributing wealth in an effective manner.

    Socialists generally argue that capitalism concentrates power and wealth within a small segment of society that controls the means of production and derives its wealth through a system of exploitation. This creates a stratified society based on unequal social relations that fails to provide equal opportunities for every individual to maximize their potential, and does not utilise available technology and resources to their maximum potential in the interests of the public, and focuses on satisfying market-induced wants as opposed to human needs.

    Socialists argue that socialism would allow for wealth to be distributed based on how much one contributes to society, as opposed to how much capital one holds."

    Read that last sentence again. The next time a neo-con yells "get a job" the proper response will be "for what". Jobs are useless in a capitalist society, a plutocracy. The only product that is manufactured and sold in a plutocracy is capital itself.

    November 23, 2011 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  20. Josh

    #1 I'm surprised no one has said this before. Romney is the John Kerry of the Republican party. Flip flops. Doesn't clearly express his stance on any issue. Hell, they even look alike.

    #2 Liberals worried about a guy getting into office who has religious beliefs when Obama openly says he's Christian to anyone who asks.

    #3 There will be no religious test for entering into any office of the government of the United States.

    #4 Atheists as bigoted as the Christians and Mormons they complain about.

    Go America. Makin em proud every day!

    November 23, 2011 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  21. Will S

    I wouldn't vote for a Mormon, personally. I've met several over the years.

    November 23, 2011 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  22. skvhgn

    i would rather have a man who believes he is accountable in private as well as public to a higher being (any higher being) than one who thinks he can deal in secret according to his desires an get away with it.

    is he qualified—yes
    is he experienced—yes
    is he mormon—who cares

    the economy is in the crapper, we are fighting an endless war, our infrastructure is in ruin, our government bloated, our schools second rate, our international image tarnished and the thing that makes a candidate legitimate is his religion? we are a country of idiots!

    November 23, 2011 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  23. mmillie

    Typical of the right wing "values" people to define what is and what is not a religion. The candidate's brand of religion should not be a factor. The values voters are to be feared because they believe that only they have the moral high ground on any number of issues.

    November 23, 2011 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  24. Larry L

    @More change less hope

    "If the choice is between a Mormon and a socialist I'll take my chances with the Mormon."
    I assume you mean the socialism associated with trying to provide medical care for Americans when it will soon be out of reach for anybody but the very wealthy. Or maybe you mean the socialism of support for working-class people – not trying to destroy unions and trying to keep wages high enough for people to have decent lives. Still, maybe you're talking about the socialism of Social Security and Medicare – two programs the Republicans want to hand over to Wall Street or eliminate entirely.

    Republicans spent the last three years trying to prevent any recovery from the recession they caused – and eliminate "hope" for anybody but the rich or the addicts of Fox News. How does it feel to hate so much you'd ruin our country to make political points?

    November 23, 2011 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  25. Jariv

    @ PJ, he does not need to prove he is christian. He is a Christian! and he is a god-fearing man that knows values and once to achieve a better relationship with god. The things they say about Mormons being evil, its just so upsetting to a Mormon when we really try to follow god's commandments more than other religions. We try hard to reach what we call perfection. Of course we will never reach it, but we try unlike other religions which do not have that goal. Our methods might be different, but they are not less than what Evangelicals, and other religions say are against god. We try to do more good. Never backwards.

    Here is a quote.

    " There's probably never just one reason why a religious tree is bad. With the evangelicals, however, there is at least one very significant reason, and it lies in a doctrine. While we do not believe that doctrine is a good means by which to judge a group, you can judge a doctrine by the fruit it produces. There is a specific doctrine of the evangelicals that lies right at the source of the bad fruit, like a disease that killed the tree before it ever had a chance to grow. That doctrine is salvation by faith alone."

    November 23, 2011 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
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