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. William

    Do you think his pastor banged on a podium and screamed G-D America?
    I only hope that one day White will be right, Yellow will be mellow.......remember that?
    Of course that made no difference to those on CNN but this site and those who reply on it seem to have major problem with someone being a mormon. This is the only place i go and read about his faith having any factor. This is the only place anyone vents their spleen in such a way about a persons religion. Except Obama's, of course.

    November 23, 2011 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  2. hitobito

    Romney still wears his magic underpants and believes he is one of the Chosen Ones. Their church is full of latter day SAINTS who believe they are the chosen ones. When Romney was CEO of Bain Capital, he created exactly zero jobs and down-sizing the companies Bain bought actually put thousands of people out of work. Thats the way his company worked. His RomneyCare healthcare plan in Massachusetts was the blueprint for the so-called "ObamaCare" which Romney now rejects. He will also shut down Social Security and Medicare. So be careful who you vote for.

    November 23, 2011 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  3. QS

    This entire article could have simply been this one sentence:

    "Romney's faith may have a bigger impact on his chances in the GOP primary than the general election."

    DUH! Who out there can possibly still be unaware of the backwards priorities of conservatives at this point?

    November 23, 2011 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  4. Andrew

    it's about time the republicans split into 2 parties: the republican party and the religion party

    November 23, 2011 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  5. Lenny Pincus

    WAIT! Are you telling me that Republicans are more likely to be religious bigots than normal people? Wow. What a shock.

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

    Romney is a very good candidate that can beat Obama in the general election. Don't think we can say that for the other candidates. His current views align well with conservatives in protecting traditional family, fiscal conservativeness, pro-life, and religious freedom. He will promote these values since his Mormon faith also promotes these social conservative values. Not only that, but he will actually help the economy since he actually knows about it and has done it with both an scandal-ridden olympic committee, cash-bleeding state of MA, and many corporations. 🙂

    November 23, 2011 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  7. Anonymous

    of course its a factor,who want the country to be lead by a guy in a cult

    November 23, 2011 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  8. Marie MD

    I stand with David Letterman. The $250M flip flopper is the mormon but the newter man is the one with three wives! Go figure. Then again I know somebody who says that we all make mistakes and that, according to the cheater's daughter, her dad didn't really ask for a divorce in the hospital. This very conservative older woman says that we all make mistakes. Three times, really?
    faux news once again making it up and idiots believing them!

    November 23, 2011 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  9. ZzwilhelmzZ

    of course its a factor,who want the country to be lead by a guy in a cult

    November 23, 2011 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  10. InSLC

    As someone who moved to SLC almost a year ago for my husband's residency, I've learned the political underbelly of beautiful Utah is seriously disturbing. I had no idea of the power possessed by the Church of LDS and it is quite scary. The church runs this state from top to bottom and I've never experienced anything like it. We will be moving as soon as possible because it makes me very uncomfortable. It is difficult to find a non-Mormon with any leadership roles in the fields education, medicine, and politics and I highly doubt it's a massive coincidence. At medical centers it's common for speciality heads to be terrifyingly uneducated and dangerous clinicians, yet they are promoted professionally because they are part of the LDS boys club. I have no problem with people utilizing whatever faith works for them, however, the Church of LDS has proved time and again it is incapable of separating church and state, which makes me leery to imagine Romney in the WH. It's nothing personal, as we have many awesome Mormon friends... I just don't trust the church.

    November 23, 2011 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |

    Religion suxs. Happy Thanksgiving everybody. 🙂

    November 23, 2011 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  12. mike

    Romney represents everything that is wrong with our politics he is the epitome of a sleazy pathetic pandering politician who will say and do almost anything to get elected. If you want real change in this country do not vote for this guy he has no core values and throws any principles he may have into the wind everyday to see which way is the best to fly today. he is totally irresponsible and untrustworthy

    November 23, 2011 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  13. sf

    Ahh, Christians...such loving, caring, understand and god fearing people....NOT!!!!

    christians can suck my big toe and then some! could care less about religion especially when these people use it as a rod to cast their judgement on others! I'm not voting for either of these republican candidates because they do not care about THE COMMON MAN! only the rich, and they're crazy religious nuts do they care about...and to that, i say NO THANK YOU.

    November 23, 2011 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  14. SoCal70

    To the very first post here, Darthnormand:

    My friend, it is you that needs to do some fact checking. Your tired rhetoric is nothing new and, to be quite honest, stale and boring. A Mormon in the White House isn't going to set the US back 100 years. Where on Earth do you people come up with this stuff?!?!! At least he has more experience with politics than our current 'commander-in-chief'(if you can call him that). The very fact that people let religion dictate their views as to who should be the president proves two things. Freedom Of Religion is dead and religious BIGOTRY is alive and well in America.

    November 23, 2011 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  15. Scott

    I am so tired of hearing about the faith/religion of governmental officials, I don't care about your so called faith. There is something in this country called separation of church and state. I think that when candidates start talking about their religion they should be disqualified from running for President. Our government is so jacked up right now, the republican party should be ashamed of themselves for the idiots that they have put in front of us to choose from!

    November 23, 2011 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  16. ab

    Why does it matter what religion the candidate is? I'm not going to vote or not vote for someone because of what religion they are.

    November 23, 2011 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  17. Anonmyous

    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.

    For those not paying attention. "Truer words have not been spoken". On the base out there we used to have bumper stickers that read; " Eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow you may be in Utah". For those that don't know. Mormons politicians rely on their church when faced with tough political and ethical decisions and, should Romney become president. You can bet he will take the oath of office on "The Book of Mormon" because to mormons. The Book of Mormon is the "Bible".

    November 23, 2011 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  18. DavidE7

    Romney's faith is not the real issue. Romney is viewed as a person who would protect the top 1% against the 99%. He would lose worse to Obama in the general election than other Republicans.

    November 23, 2011 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  19. josh

    Cbell – I could go on for a while on all this but according to you – God took gold tablets to heaven because why? They were to valuable to leave, because gold is worth something in heaven, more than any other rock? And knowing that, one would think the tablets could have been made of something a little more leavable, seeing as they were the only proof of the whole nonsense – taking them to heaven was basically the equivalent of god taking the dead sea scrolls up to heaven, just to be sure they didn't fall into the wrong hands. There were these tribes that have no archeological evidence of their existence or their movement across vast areas. Jesus visited the Americas (geocentrism), how convenient, god Jesus and resurrected humans are flesh and bone in paradise, all it takes to change your church doctrine is a simple proclamation from your church leader – "oh blacks are cool in the US now in 1978... well then, I GUESS they can be priests too..." , there are multiple heavens, multiple earth type worlds each with their own gods, (and you can become god's yourself if you attain the highest level of heaven) and no hot drinks. Come on, how does any of this even sound remotely in line with Christian belief? It isn't, at all. Your "Jesus" came to America, the Jesus of the bible did not. You are just painting him in whatever image you'd like him to be – mostly an incredibly white hippie lookin' guy.

    Give it up man. Mormon is not Christian. That would be like me taking a historical figure – say Julius Caesar, and saying hey, but he actually lived, and came to America and check out all he did, and then saying you and I both believe in the same Julius Caesar. Nope, sorry. It doesn't work that way.

    November 23, 2011 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  20. texdave

    If he becomes President then he will definately get to be God of his own planet after death. Wonder what I am talking about? Check Mormon beliefs. Maybe a Moonie or a Hara Krishna follower would be a good President.

    November 23, 2011 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  21. josh

    Oh and baptizing Holocaust victims, paint it how you want, it's just wrong.

    November 23, 2011 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  22. Tired of the nonsense

    I don't want anyone who's overly religious in the White House. It's too dangerous when people use theology to figure out what the political landscape is going to be for four years.

    November 23, 2011 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  23. aleppo1091

    So, let me see.... if the 2012 election is Obama vs Romney, no matter which man wins, the conservatives will rant that the president is not a Christian?

    November 23, 2011 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  24. Heather12

    Romney's faith is important if it's true that it is a racist religion. How many Mormon 'priests" are nonwhites?

    November 23, 2011 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  25. Moon

    The only people who are trying to make it a big deal are the God hating liberals. I haven't talked to anyone stupid enough to vote against a Presidential nominee based on their religion. I hear all the hateful stuff about Jews, Mormons and Christians from the left. Its a interesting ploy to try to muddy the waters with religion but all of us from a broad spectrum of faiths are united against Obama. Speaking of horrendous Obama attended church with that anti-semite Jeremiah Wright frothing hate for 20 years.

    November 23, 2011 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
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