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. Cbell

    oh and by the way I am a Mormon

    November 23, 2011 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  2. CommonRaven

    I personally know quite a few Mormons and they're some of the best people I know. I believe Romney is a man of faith and character.

    November 23, 2011 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  3. Superfudge1

    It's only an issue to the soul less liberals.

    November 23, 2011 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  4. sortakinda

    Most people are born into their religion, which becomes their spiritual home. If Romney were to change to another religion other than Mormonism, there would be a big gripe about that, too. If voters only voted for candidates of their faith, only Catholics would be elected, because it is the largest single denomination, followed by ex-Catholics, but the latter is more dispersed.

    November 23, 2011 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  5. B.Bear1

    It's not the LDS dogma that concerns me. Every American gets to choose their own faith. It's the history of how the LDS powers have treated minorities and women. Mr. Romney was a bishop of his ward in Massachusetts. The media needs to thoroughly examine Romney's conduct in that role.

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

    Cbell – you're just fooling yourself. The same person doesn't mean the same message. I mean, baptizing dead people into your faith? Really? Yeah, your Jesus is the same dude, but what you've done/added to his message is not Christian – ie. It's not in the Bible, so it can't be. If you were actually Christian, then you wouldn't need another book to tell you how to live.

    If all Mormonism is to you is a simple acceptance of Christ and all the things you just said above, well there would be no difference between Mormonism and other Christian faiths... so then why are you Mormon? Oh wait... or are there MANY other things that make it so different as to make it almost unrecognizable to many Christians as a Christ based faith that leave you so unsatisfied that you can't live with following Christian faiths that use only the Bible?

    November 23, 2011 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  7. gg

    a non christian would be the last american president-god

    November 23, 2011 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  8. Clwyd

    It is more than a factor. Mitt is a member of a religious cult!

    November 23, 2011 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  9. carolyn

    Why does the news media always assume the only Christians are right wing conservatives- News flash there are a lot of non republican Democratic Christians (ie. Methodist, Epsicopalian, Presbyterian, Baptist, COGIC, Lutheren's etc) who vote. Many are taught that Mormanism is an extreme cult in which Morman founder Joseph Smith is viewed as a lying thieving, wife swapping heretic.
    Just listen to Hank Hannergraff, Hagee, Parsley, James McArthur, the late Adrian Rogers, J vernon McGhee, and others who shed their teeth on what the Bible refers to as unBiblical "other gospel's". They all read Dr Walter Martin's Kingdom of the Cults. Romney doesn't have a snowballs chance in hell among the evangelicals.

    November 23, 2011 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  10. josh

    Alright all, I'm out- remember, don't vote for a cultist! And have a great Thanksgiving!

    November 23, 2011 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  11. David M

    Faith is and will not be a factor. I work with a bunch of Evangelical Christains. They have all told me they are not a fan of Mormonism but are more than happy to overlook it to get rid of Obama.

    November 23, 2011 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  12. elenore

    I am going to vote for Romney.Both in Primary and General Election.But I am from Michigan and Metro Detroit.It's about time Michigan and Metro Detroit had a President in the White House.His being a moral man is enough for me.BTW his boring mannerism is not that different than many from the Mid-West.Seems normal to me.

    November 23, 2011 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  13. Louis

    Josh – read your own Bible man. In it you will find that Paul spoke of baptisms for the dead. And to clarify, we don't baptize the dead, WE get baptized in their behalf. They, the dead, have the opportunity to accept or reject that ordinance done in their behalf. No one in this life or the next is "forced" to become a member. Why do we do this? Again read your Bible – it says that no one can enter into the Kingdom of God without being reborn of the water, which means baptism by someone who has the proper authority to do that. Think of the Bilions of people who have not heard of Jesus Christ? Are they all going to hell? The Mormon Church is the only one that says NO to that. Now, THAT's true Christianity. Learn more at

    November 23, 2011 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  14. Larry C Wilson

    Since there is evidence that Romney could win against Obama in the general election, I hope the bigots in the primaries defeat his try for the nomination.

    November 23, 2011 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  15. Cbell

    Ok so far we now know that Mormons and other Christians believe in the same "dude" which is Jesus Christ. You are now saying that it is our doctrine that makes us unrecognizable as Christians.
    lets address some of those because i know some of what you talk about. When you say baptizing dead people it sounds like we are digging them up and hauling them into the baptismal font. This is untrue. In Corinthians Paul talks about doing baptisms for the dead and it is mentioned that it is practiced by the practicing believers at that time. Today, people are able baptize one another on behalf of loved ones who are deceased. If they accept the message hereafter then the work is done for them. All it means is that the basis is covered. Stop being dramatic.

    You asked why i would need more then one book(the bible) to tell me how to live. first and foremost many people believe in the bible and as you can see the bible tells each of them many different things. Look at the mode of baptism. some do it by sprinkling water on a person while others do it by immersion. If the bible is true ( which mormons believe it is) then isnt it a sad statement to say then that God stopped talking to us all those years ago. Mormons believe that God is just as engaged with his children now and he was then. the book of mormon proves that God talks to all of his children then and now. The book of mormon does not contradict any teachings of the bible. It talks of a people who received guidance from the Lord and many listened and even many more did not. What it does for Mormons is show us what God revealed to his people and clears of many of the doctrines that are in the bible that are just left to mans translation. Put it another way-i have two legs to stand on and it easier that way.
    The book of mormon testifies that christ is the only way back to God, it teaches that baptism by immersion is the proper mode of baptism, it teaches that God, Jesus, and the Holy Ghost are three separate beings with one masterful purpose. It teaches that the Infinite Atonement that Jesus wrought was the most important event ever and there will never be anything more important.
    Have you ever read the entire book. If you have not and you are bashing it then it is not i who is foolish.

    November 23, 2011 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  16. Great

    That is great TXJim cause no American will ever vote for a Texan to be presedent again either!!!! LOL

    November 23, 2011 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  17. Al-NY,NY

    Sorry Fudgy. Liberals are not the ones keeping flippity flop under 25% of his own party.

    November 23, 2011 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  18. john

    Wow...has anyone noticed who the frontrunner is, a Baptist convert to Catholicism, who has been married three times. A guy who went after a guy cheating on his wife while cheating on his wife...and you guys are worried about a little Mormonism ....old Mittens is a saint compared to the Newtster.....

    November 23, 2011 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  19. The Greedy Old Pigs have declared class war on US!

    Elanore, that is a very poor reason to vote for Romney. For your information, if you really are from Michigan you should ask yourself how you feel about the Great Lakes. You seem to forget that Romney doesn't care about you, he only cares about his 1% masters. When they decide they want the Great Lakes water, Romney will be there making the deal. And you'll be left high and dry with no water and a simple-minded fantasy about a "Michigan President" who exists only in your mind. Romney represents the Chamber of Commerce and the war-mongering neocons, no one else.

    November 23, 2011 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  20. Brad5013

    It's going to fun as the Righteous Right attempts to choose among a serial adulterer, a black man, and a Mormon.

    November 23, 2011 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  21. ThinkAgain

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

    I'm a Christian and I'm voting for Obama/Biden 2012. Have a great day, too! I'm thinking what we have in common, Southern Hottie, is we both know how to THINK!

    November 23, 2011 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  22. Craziness28

    How is this still news? I've seen about 10 polls over the past year with the same information. We get it, CNN: Americans don't like/trust Mormons. Move along to stuff we don't know.

    November 23, 2011 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  23. jsf12

    The headline link that brought me to this article was "Romney's faith, a big factor". I guess that is an example of wishful thinking by CNN.
    They can't think of any other reason a sane voter would select Obama over Romney. All the questions about Romney's faith are coming from the left (such as from CNN). Obviously they don't care about Romney's faith, but they hope Republicans are stupid enough to divide over that issue and fail to unite over the issue that matters.
    Kick out the socialists and repair our economy.

    November 23, 2011 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  24. Johnson

    Given his position as a Bishop and the fact that the head of his Church is called the Prophet who can chat directly with God and give answers, I don't feel comfortable with him leading the free world and having his finger on the nuclear button. Invade Iran he tells us.

    November 23, 2011 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  25. jsf12

    For many years (fairly long ago) I worked for a Mormon boss. He was a terrible person and a terrible boss. How much should that affect my opinion of Romney? If you answer anything other that "NOT AT ALL" what's wrong with you?
    CNN wants us to judge Romney by his religion, even though that goes in direct contradiction to the principles they claim to believe. They throw away every principle in order to help the socialist win reelection. Don't you want to be better than that?

    November 23, 2011 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
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