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. Bob

    Why is religion a factor in this race when no one cared about Obama listening to Rev. Wright preach hate of America and the white man for 20 years.

    November 23, 2011 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  2. josh

    Bob, because Obama wasn't Mormon.

    November 23, 2011 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  3. Mindie from Indie

    Hey Moon: The God hating liberals don't care what religion Romney is – Obama will get his 2nd Term. Maybe in 2016 you people can debate religion but in this next election, it's all about Accomplishments and Obama has many (if you ever cared to look).

    November 23, 2011 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  4. Scribner

    It is amazing how un-Christian a so-called "Christian" can be when they are determined to smear another faith based on ignorance and bigotry. If the voters indeed reject Romney solely on the basis of his religion, they deserve whatever mess they end up with. Our Founding Fathers are spinning in their graves!

    November 23, 2011 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  5. American

    Here we go again, with the prospect of voting for a president based on his faith and not as his presidential qualifications.

    Has anyone watched the debates?

    Has anyone looked at the New Hampshire polls?

    Has anyone graduated from high school?

    November 23, 2011 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  6. Rich

    The "christians" with their fairytale religion should just live their lives and stop acting like uneducated dopes.If someone came up to them on the street and told them some of the biblical stories they would have them committed but if a money grubbing preacher tells them the same BS they raise their arms like morons...And they knock Mormons?Look in the mirror...or go back and finish high school.

    November 23, 2011 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  7. gt

    sad so many pagans hate any religion or faith of anyone... its about jobs and economy stupid...

    November 23, 2011 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  8. Rich

    These right wingers are worried about RomneyS religion when their here Grover Norquist is married to a Muslim...How does that work out for the christian right?

    November 23, 2011 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  9. dicusted with all politicans

    are any of you morons aware that the lds attempted to create thier own nation in salt lake in the mid 1800's. they slaghtered all wagon trains passing through ft. bridger not of thier faith,and stole all thier possesions even thier childern(those young enough to be forced in to the lds faith). utah was built on blood money of murdered american pioneers. the u.s. army had to be sent in deal with the traitors and murderers. the lds are as radical as muslims. if a member of the lds becomes president he will take his orders from the church not the taxpayers.

    November 23, 2011 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  10. JT

    Seriously, this topic is getting so old. This is so 2008.

    November 23, 2011 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  11. JT

    What I don't get is that evangelicals are so hell bent on getting someone that is similar to their views into the white house, that they nominate people who are unelectable, and end up with some one to the far left who are even further left from their views.

    November 23, 2011 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  12. Louis

    josh – your posts show the degree that you are full of hate. How do you interpret your Bible when it says that the faithful will be "joint heirs with Jesus Christ"? Also if we are not going to have a body of flesh and bone in the hereafter what was Jesus trying to teach his disciples when he appeared to them a week after his death on the cross and told them "feel me, handle me for a spirit has no flesh and bone as you see me have" They were so astonished that he even asked them to give him some fish to eat so he could convince them that he had his body back. You are choosing to ignore these parts of the Bible or you just have a different interpretation than we do. What makes your interpretation better than ours? Also what did he mean when he said that "other sheep have which are not of this fold, them also will hear my voice" (visit them?). One more thing – where are all the books that use to be in the Bible that are referred to in there, but are no longer there? There is a lot of things that you choose to believe and many that you choose not to believe. How does that make your "Christianity" better than mine?

    November 23, 2011 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  13. Larry L

    How about a television commercial for those of us who don't accept the mythology of religion? I recommend the catchy line of "I am not a Moron".

    November 23, 2011 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  14. BeverlyNC

    What's "faith" got to do with anyone in the Republican Party. Not one is a Christian, Not one has or practices any basic reliigious values or morals. They worship at the God of Greed and the feet of corupt corporations. Republicans have done NOTHING for the American PEOPLE, have destroyed the economy intentionally to try to hurt President Obama, have blocked ALL Jobs programs, have tried to kill all programs for the poor and food programs for poor children. They have destroyed public education and given all the funds to corporate tax cuts. These Republicans are not human beings so what does their so-called "religion" matter? They are all hypocrites and liars.

    November 23, 2011 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  15. Ronald

    Again, these guys will say anything to get elected. I personally wouldn't trust anyone that uses God and religion to gain favor for political gain.

    November 23, 2011 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  16. Zoomie

    The best thing about Mitt being president is there is potential to have a first, second, and third First Lady. Gotta love those Mormons.

    November 23, 2011 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  17. Janissa

    To me, a President's religion is irrelevant.

    November 23, 2011 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  18. Matt

    Mitt Romney is a proven leader. He has experience turning failing businesses around and making them profitable. What is America right now?...a failing business. Who cares what religion he is.

    November 23, 2011 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  19. anthony w constantino

    Mormonism is a cult, and the Bible points that out. Mormonism as advertized in the past that mormanism is another gospel of Jesus Christ. Now Joseph Smith said he recieved this gospel from an angel named moroni. The Bible says in the book of Galatians Chapter 1 (Now this Paul speaking to the people of Galatia ) That if we or even an angel preaches any other gospel than what He had preached, Let them be accursed. So Mitt, you're outta luck my man. You're going to
    miss out on Your ticket to Heaven. AMEN

    November 23, 2011 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  20. Dave

    Its a sad commentary on American society. Why is Romney's faith an issue? Why does Cain not want to hire those of Islamic faith? Why is Gingrich not considered to be Christian by some because he is Catholic ? This is sooooooooo unimportant and irrelevant !!!!

    November 23, 2011 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  21. buck cameron

    Perhaps it's because I'm an agnostic and think that ALL religions are myth based, but I don't think there is any basis for discriminating against a candidate based on his or her religion. I can find lots of reasons to vote agains Romney (and his "debate" mates. One of them is not his religion. I can find fewer reasons to vote against Huntsman (but still enough) even though he shares Romney's faith. Now, if someone would stand up and actually propose following the teaching of Jesus Christ, I'd have to really look at that candidate, but it ain't gonna happen, if it did, it wouldn't be a Republican and probably not a "Christian"!

    November 23, 2011 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  22. Athiest

    Now I know Mormons are funny with their crazy beliefs. But they are generally nice people and usually more christian than the people who say they are not. Most Mormon's can quote scripture as well as typically outstanding citizens in the community not to mention drinking coffee, smoking, drinking alcohol and per-martial sex are forbidden. this is all coming from an atheist.

    November 23, 2011 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  23. Eardley Ham Woodbury, MN

    I wouldn't vote for Romney, not because he is a Mormon, but because he is a Repugnican't. However, there are tens of thousands of Evangarebugnican'ts that will not vote for him because he is a Mormon. The Rebugnica't party is on a self-destruct course as far as the presidency is concerned. They may also lose some House seats, but will likely retain control of the House. Not sure about the Senate, but Obama will probably be elected to a second term and the mindless partisan gridlock will continue.

    God help the USA.

    November 23, 2011 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  24. msadr

    I simply can't respect the mormon religion. And I can't respect the opinion of anyone who follows it. I can't take them seriously at all. I'd vote for a Christian, Buddhist, Shinto, Taoist, certain brands of Paganism, sikh, and many others. In fact, I might vote for a Muslim if they don't come off crazy. But Mormonism is one of several philosophies I consider laughable or bizarre – along with Atheism and Scientology. I can't respect it. I can't respect Romney. I would never vote for him. If I'm left with a choice between a Mormon and Obama, I will vote for Obama.

    November 23, 2011 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  25. Kenneth

    Are "white" evangelicals, protestants, and GOP the only people considered in this so-called survey? Are they the only opinions that matter when it comes to determining the leader of OUR country? Religion isn't the only problem ... BLATANT AND CONDESCENDING RACISM is a MAJOR factor that should not be overlooked.

    November 23, 2011 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
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