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. Moore

    Last time I checked a Christian is someone that believes in Jesus Christ. The name of the "Mormon" church is The Church of JESUS CHRIST of Latter Day Saints. Mormons believe in the same Jesus Christ as the Catholics, Baptist and all other Christian. Mormons read from the Bible. The Book of Mormon does not replace the Bible, hence why on the front cover it says ANOTHER testament of Jesus Christ. All who say Mormons aren't Christians have obviously never even read the Book of Mormon.

    November 23, 2011 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  2. Kyle

    I don't buy into a lot of the nonsense about Mormons being odd. I know several.. they are some of the best people in my community. There are radical offshoots of Momonism.. Warren Jeffs etc, that have 0 in common with Mormonism. If we are to throw stones at Mormonism, perhaps we should also examine evangelical Christians and some of thier radical ideas. Good Grief!

    November 23, 2011 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  3. josh

    Doug in NYC – agreed.

    MeganKI – "And mostly...I do not want to see Obama reelected" so basically you'd vote for pretty much anything as long as they pretended to be on your side? That's comforting...

    Emma – yeah, I know what they're called, and Mormon, LDS, LSD, whatever, don't care. It's all the same cult. It's only the Mormons getting on here trying to convince people that religious beliefs don't matter, though, Emma, I doubt you'd elect a Muslim no matter how much they claimed to share your beliefs.

    November 23, 2011 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  4. SCAtheist

    This is news – conservative Christians won't vote for a Mormon over a conservative Christian?

    November 23, 2011 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  5. Lynn

    Too many people have bought into the nonsense of the evil flip-flopper label. As Emerson said, "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesman..." That foolishness of sticking to a particular position at all cost is what caused the supercommittee to fail. Too many politicians are paralyzed by fear of appearing inconsistent and are clueless about the art of compromise. There's nothing wrong with changing your opinion on something after getting new information and perspectives about the subject.

    November 23, 2011 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  6. meWA

    Its kind of funny when people are talking about, Saying things like wearing your faith on your sleeve and touting your faith. First off, who in this republican candidacy touts their faith the most? PERRY PERRY PERRY! I mean, bringing in a church leader before his speeches and saying Praise the Lord before most of his speeches pretty much sums it all. The only time Romney ever talks about his faith is when people question it or ATTACK it like many of you people who cant get through to your heads that there are more than one christian faiths. Mormon is another term for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. If we they weren't christian then why would they have their name of their church have Jesus Christ in it. Oh I'm Sorry, the CHURCH of JESUS CHRIST isn't christian, its a cult. Im sorry. Must have missed that memo. Hasnt anyone ever researched the religions of other presidents? For instant, Nixon was a Quaker, in other words, an other words a protestant, in as which had the whole Watergate indicant. Not a very great president in my book. John F Kennedy on the other hand, A Roman Catholic, Was a GREAT president and everyone didnt want to vote because they were afraid of him being Roman Catholic. Abraham Lincoln on the other hand, is in controversy of what religion he's been in, since he always quoted from the bible and went to church with his family, he never really joined any church. Does this mean he was in a cult? Unitarianism...does anyone even know what that is? Well, its a christian faith, who had that faith you ask? Well none other than John Adams. You people really need to know more about different faiths before going on saying their a cult.

    November 23, 2011 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  7. Just Say "NO" to Mormons

    Mormons don't recognize you unless you are a mormon yourself. Please educate yourself on what this cult stands for before you consider Romney as the leader of our nation. I agree that politics and politicians should keep their faith out of their decision making, however this is not something a Mormon could even try to do on their best day.

    A member of a cult should not be the leader of our country. I guess that goes to show how desperate we are for decent politicians these days.

    November 23, 2011 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  8. Joe from CT, not Lieberman

    Hey, Darthnormand, I thought it was the goal of the Tea Party to put the United States back 100 or so years so they don't have the regulations that protect the food we eat, the air we breathe and the wages we almost make from predation by the corporate interests. That way, they could also reenact the Jim Crow era and add to it anyone that is not a White, Evangelical Protestant. They may grant partial status to Jews, though, because they are "the Chosen People". But, in general, it looks like among the goals of the Tea Party is to prevent any person of color from ever being elected President again.

    November 23, 2011 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  9. Lindsey

    Wonder what these pseudo-Christians would do if faced with a Jew for a presidential candidate???? For all their mouthings about how much they love Israel, I think they would have no problem demonizing any Jewish presidential candidate as a "Christ-killer". Instantly. Hypocritical, small-minded, oafs, they all are. Jesus would so disown them, it's kind of amusing to think about it.

    November 23, 2011 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  10. josh

    Moore – I have read the book of Mormon, and the book and the church do replace the teachings of Christ. Whether you say "they just add to it" or whatever, it changes the message significantly. Just because you use Jesus name that doesn't mean you aren't part of a cult. In fact, many cults have used a Christian type name to further their own goals.

    November 23, 2011 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  11. Al

    It's nearly 2012. How about we give up on all mythology which will leave us all better off? The one true god mythologies of the world have done nothing but spread ignorance and misery. It's time Romney and Cain and everyone else gives them ALL up.

    November 23, 2011 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  12. DannyCali

    I think Mormons Faith is you can marry many husband and wife you can. So, vote for Mr. Mormon be our next President please.

    November 23, 2011 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  13. josh

    Kyle – I agree – we should start talking about evangelicals too.

    November 23, 2011 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  14. Jalal

    The Teapublican Party is slowly morphing into the American Taliban with intolerance, arrogance and divisiveness as their unholy trinity. Sad day for Christianity.

    November 23, 2011 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  15. Laurie in Spokane

    In a perfect world. one's faith (or lack of a it) should not be a factor in the Presidential race. However, we all know it's not a perfect world. As for Romney's Mormon faith, if I were a republican, I could not support him because of that. Mormonism is very "ego-centric" as it were, and to me, is a cult.

    November 23, 2011 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  16. Birdwatcher1

    Now if his Mormon faith could just keep him from telling lies. Such as the whopper in his very first ad.

    November 23, 2011 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  17. Dennis1020

    The Christian Right (Christian Taliban) are determined to destroy the country they profess to love. They are a testament to the sad state of our education system.

    November 23, 2011 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  18. Dennis

    I'd vote for a Mormon before I'd vote for an adulterer or sex abuser, which rules out Gingrich and Cain...

    That said, anyone who bashes Mormons ought to get to know a few. They're better Christians than half the so-called Christians I've met.

    November 23, 2011 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  19. kd

    The minute a candidate touts his or her religion, they've eliminated themselves from my vote. We live in a world where the president has to deal with real world issues, not hoped-for fantasies. All one has to do is look at the disaster Bush 2 was (or any Republican over the last 40 years) to know how the price this country pays for that nonsense.

    November 23, 2011 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  20. bollie jackson

    People please just take a few simple minutes and google mormonism and one can easily see the heresy, insane lies from a false person – so called prophet. Romney will not get the vote from Christians! Plus the fact is plain to see in his debates that he would be shredded by obama in a debate situation. I am actually surprised that the dems aren't welcoming him into the arena based on his ignorance and flip flop character profile. Mormonism is a lie! If you are a mormon do the research, it's not too late for you to find the truth...

    November 23, 2011 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  21. WhereIsPalin

    The republican party will have to define what makes a person Christian. Then they will have to allow only Christians to be eligible for their party's nomination. And finally, after gaining a majority, they can just make the US a theocracy.

    November 23, 2011 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  22. Wise1Speak


    It doesn't matter whether you are Republican, Democrat, or Independent; Mitt Romney should never be Commander-in-Chief of the United States of America. Why?

    Simply put, Romney is a snake and he displays no shame or embarrassment for so many blatant boldface lies and persistent hypocrisy. Romney can't be trusted.

    November 23, 2011 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  23. Jariv

    - WROTE -
    Just Say "NO" to Mormons
    Mormons don't recognize you unless you are a mormon yourself. Please educate yourself on what this cult stands for before you consider Romney as the leader of our nation. I agree that politics and politicians should keep their faith out of their decision making, however this is not something a Mormon could even try to do on their best day.

    A member of a cult should not be the leader of our country. I guess that goes to show how desperate we are for decent politicians these days.

    ***** Just Say "NO" to Mormons... **** Educate yoursellf. What's with the "Mormons don't recognize you unless you are one of them".. That's stupid. I don't think you have met enough of them to recognize differently. There are many around your circle of life yet, they might not mention to you that they are members of the LDS Church but none the less they are around you every day. So much wrong with your comments, so little knowledge you have about it. If Mormonism is a cult then all religions are as well.

    November 23, 2011 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  24. Al

    Laurie, how is Mormonism any more or less a cult than any other denomination of christianity?

    Personally, I do think it matters what a person's religious ideals are. I don't want a president who thinks the sky is his most valuable adviser...

    November 23, 2011 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  25. josh

    Dennis – I know Mormons. Most are hypocrites. There are a couple I like quite a bit, but I wouldn't vote for them for president.

    November 23, 2011 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
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