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. josh

    Jariv – I think you're on to something in that last line.

    November 23, 2011 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  2. John from Melbourne

    I like Romney because he will restructure the American Family as we know it. You can have up to 10 wives and grow a beard. Dress in plain clothes, ride horses all day, do farm work, but no dishes,washing clothes, or fixing meals. You will go to church every day. Women will be respectful to you, as will the children. No cars,motor cycles,stock car racing etc. In other words, we will take care of the world, not destroy it. No internet, or movies etc. Lets all vote for Mitt.

    November 23, 2011 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |

    I'm an atheist and I'm voting for OBAMA/BIDEN 2012. Thank you and have a nice day, ya'll. 🙂

    November 23, 2011 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  4. common sense

    His recent political commercial on Obama is deliberately misleading and is a major problem when you are taunting your religion/values. What Mitt has done/said about his values; he has none. And I will be glad to say that to my Mormon friends. If you have to stoop that low you do not belong in the any high office. Debate the facts or opinions, no problem, but to promote yourself with family values and then take the low road is not a vote getter for me.

    November 23, 2011 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  5. Cbell

    I am a Mormon!!!!
    (most of you will stop reading now and some of you may now want to continue)
    First and foremost...Warren Jeffs is not a Mormon..he is part of a church that broke off from Mormons. Jeffs church still practices Plural marriage while Mormons stopped over a hundred years lets not be idiots. But if you still want to be idiots look at all the other candidates and how many wives they have had. Mitt has had 1.

    Moving on to faith as a problem for Mitt
    I as a mormon believe that Jesus Christ is the Savior of all mankind. I have been taught that from the beginning. I have prayed to God for confirmation in that and He has given it to me. I worship God, and Jesus and no one else. does any of this so far not sound christian?
    Next, some people say we are not Christians and that we worship a man named Joseph Smith. Let me put this into few words and very simple. We believe Joseph Smith was a prophet. God has called profits from the beginning of time (moses, abraham, Isaiah, etc) we believe God doesnt love us less to not call prophets and Joseph Smith was called back in the 1800's. Like the peopled believed in Moses, but yet worshiped God, so we do. All of that is Christian..Amos 3:7 says that surely God will reveal his secrets to his servants, the prophets.....Mormons believe that he did not stop.

    Last. If you believe his faith should keep him out of office your an Idiot. Our religion teaches us to be honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, kind, obedient, cheerful, friendly and we believe that all men are free to worship how, where or what they may. Good mormons do not drink, cheat on their wife, steal and we believe in raising our kids to be better then we are. If these are values that republicans do not want in the white house then congrats on not knowing what your party believes in anymore.
    ps as for flip flopping, changing your mind has become a sin in politics...maybe thats why nothing can get done

    November 23, 2011 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  6. Discernment


    It is Mitt's constant Lies, Hypocrisy, and hopelessly unchangeable two-face personality. There may be a minority of Evangelicals that would never vote for Romney because he is a Mormon. But most people have a problem with Mitt's constant reversal of principles.

    If Mitt flip-flop on small things, no one would care. But Mitt flip-flops on big and important issues. Mitt sheds his principles like a snake shed skin.

    November 23, 2011 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  7. CdnJIm

    So let me get this straight...
    Evangelical Christians prefer anybody to a black man but between two balck men they'd choose the one who sexually harrasses women.
    Between 2 white men they'd choose a 3 time married, cheat on your wife guy over a Mormon.
    Have any of those Christians read anything about Jesus? I think the term "Christian" should be disposed of. He doesn't have any followers any more.

    November 23, 2011 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  8. Louis

    There is a huge amount of religious bigotry shown in some of there posts and it's coming mostly from uninformed Evangelicals. Only an idiot would conclude that someone who belongs to the Church of JESUS CHRIST is non Christian. All you Evangelicals – if you think Mormons are a cult and therefore "not saved", why aren't you doing the "Christian" thing and try to save them? Careful, your hypocracy is showing. Mitt Romney is a good man as shown by his life. That's what we need in the White House, a good moral man. That'll be something new.

    November 23, 2011 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  9. Rudy NYC

    skvhgn wrote:

    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!
    Economy? Romney wants to grow the national debt with more tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations.
    Wars? Romney wants to start extend the endless wars to a new front in Iran.
    infrastructure? The only time he uses that term is when he's talking about the economy, bridges and roads.
    Schools? He wants to dismantle public education by promoting vouchers and private schools.
    Image? Obama is more popular in Israel than Netanyahu. And he won the Nobel Peace Prize.

    We are not a country of idiots. This article is about the opinions of people who vote like idiots.

    November 23, 2011 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  10. Rudy NYC

    Cbell wrote:
    I am a Mormon. .....
    ... Last. If you believe his faith should keep him out of office your an Idiot.
    If you wish to run for political office then you cannot be a good and faithful Christian. The Word prohibits it.

    November 23, 2011 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  11. josh

    Louis – Wrong. I'm not an evangelical. I'm a religious studies teacher, and Mormonism is not Christianity. I personally don't attest to either. And I agree with CdnJIm above- there aren't many followers anymore of Christianity, just a bunch of people who like to wear the name like it's a cool club to be in.

    November 23, 2011 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  12. DocTrin

    Mitt Romney is UNABLE to separate his religion from his decision making process. He has said his religious beliefs are part of his every waking moments. Now, put that together with leading this country.

    November 23, 2011 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  13. josh

    Cbell – besides, you say you worship Christ but Mormonism has remade his message to suit a new faith. Just because you have a picture of him in your book doesn't mean you and Christians are talking about the same person, or same heaven or same message... or same anything for that matter.

    Oh and it's " 'you're' an idiot" as in "you are" but as a non-idiot I'm sure you knew that.

    November 23, 2011 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  14. DB

    The interesting factor is that the religious right doesn't disagree so much with the Mormon Church's views on family, good citizenship, morality, etc. The religious right hates how Mormon's came to share the same values, i.e. how Mormonism was created. That's what exposes the bigotry of the Evangelicals. They don't care who shares their values, they just want everyone to come to the same conclusions the way they did, though their own religious foundations. Also, the argument against a Mormon president that isn't a "true" Christian (like others through the centuries haven't fought about that one) is the same as an argument against a Catholic president, Jewish president, or any other religion exposing that Evangelicals oppose all other religions and desire a theocracy.
    It is fascinating that "true" Christians would desire someone with little experience clouded in scandal such as Cain or a serial adulterer and ethics violater Gingrich over Romney simply because of bigotry.

    November 23, 2011 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  15. Rocinante

    " religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States."

    November 23, 2011 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  16. I Am (not) a Mormon

    Has anyone else noticed the recent influx in the I Am a Mormom commercials? I bet the people in Camp Romney are funding these commercials with the intent to normalize Mormonism.

    November 23, 2011 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  17. I also abhor stamp collecting

    I'd rather vote for a fundie who hates the State, than an atheist who worships the State.

    RON PAUL 2012.

    November 23, 2011 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  18. Jonathan

    If this were any other job, simply asking about religion would get you sued for discrimination. This is a job, like any other. The only question people should be asking is who can best do the job. Especially with the country in the economic state it's in, questions of religion (and all the issues tied to it, like gay marriage and abortion, etc.) are irrelevant. We need to worry about fixing the country first. Don't worry about all these other stupid issues until after the economy has stabilized, and we're no longer at war, and we don't have unemployment in the double digits, and underemployment even higher than that.

    November 23, 2011 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  19. Wow

    Wow, the hyperbole in this comment section is astounding.

    November 23, 2011 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  20. Wise1Speak

    Point blank, Mitt Romney is a snake.

    Romney constantly sheds old lies for new coats of lies, hypocrisy, and different faces. I hope America see through this man and realize that what the country has in the White House today, is far better than Mitt Romney in the White House tomorrow.

    November 23, 2011 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  21. Lizzy10

    I vote for a candidate based on their idea's-what do they bring to the table that will help this country. I could care less about reliigion. That being said, I won't be voting for Romney.

    November 23, 2011 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  22. common sense

    Cbell, you just made our point. You said, "Last. If you believe his faith should keep him out of office your an Idiot. Our religion teaches us to be honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, kind, obedient, cheerful, friendly and we believe that all men are free to worship how, where or what they may. Good mormons do not drink, cheat on their wife, steal and we believe in raising our kids to be better then we are. If these are values that republicans do not want in the white house then congrats on not knowing what your party believes in anymore.

    He does live up to demostrates princples because he does not do what you just said. And do use the phrase that is just politics. That is what I am tring to stop in our government. I would agree that we are not always succesful, but why go in with a losing vote.

    November 23, 2011 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  23. ex-sarge

    Fact: The Church of the Latter Day Saints (Mormon) is a Christian church. They believe in Jesus Christ and to the best of my knowledge, accept him as their Saviour. So once the Evangelicals/Conservatives/Republicans kick out the Mormons, which religion will they decide isn't a "real" religion? Orwell was right, "some animals are more equal than others". And as for the big hairy scare about Sharia Law & Muslims, you know Grover Norquist? The lobbyist who (almost) all of the Republicans have signed a pledge to???? Well, turns out his wife is a Muslim.... Funny how that doesn't scare anyone in Washington or the media...

    November 23, 2011 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  24. josh

    Jonathan – if you really believe the presidency of the United States is a "job like any other" than you obviously have no grasp whatsoever of what the job entails. Who can best do the job, however, is more than likely one who is not beholden first to a giant cultish church.

    November 23, 2011 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  25. Cbell

    Josh thanks for the grammar lesson...i also spelled prophet wrong the second time i used the word.
    anyway, the Christ i believe in is the same Son of God who was born to Mary in Bethlehem and the same one who was tempted by the devil and used scripture to rebuke him, the same Christ who healed the sick, raised Lazerus, and suffered in Gethsemane for my sins and for yours my friend. the same Christ that made it possible to be forgiven of my sins if i repent and come unto him. The same Christ that died on Calvary between two thieves and asked John to take care of his mother. I believe that if a man does his part and repents of his sins, is baptized in the name of christ will go to heaven, and those who sin without caring when they know better will not. All of this i have learned from a book we believe in called the King James Version of the Bible (same version 75% of Christians use).
    So dont mock me and tell me that i dont believe in Christ. Dont sit there and lecture me how my Christ is blasphemy and different and therefore I am not a Christian. When you do so we both look like idiots.

    November 23, 2011 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
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