Beliefs Politics

Trouble for Mitt Romney? Poll says anti-Mormon bias unchanged since 1967

RNS photo by Gage Skidmore/Flickr

(RNS) Nearly one in five Americans say they would not vote for a Mormon president, a percentage that has hardly budged since 1967, according to a new Gallup poll.

It is unclear how the anti-Mormon bias will affect Mitt Romney, the presumed GOP presidential nominee, Gallup said, since just 57 percent of Americans know that he is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

“This suggests the possibility that as Romney's faith becomes better known this summer and fall, it could become more of a negative factor,” Gallup writes, “given that those who resist the idea of a Mormon president will in theory become more likely to realize that Romney is a Mormon as the campaign unfolds.”

Still, Gallup noted that John F. Kennedy won the presidency in 1960 despite the 21 percent of Americans who said they would not vote for a Catholic president.

Separate Gallup polls show the former Massachusetts governor essentially tied with President Obama.

This year, nearly 8 in 10 Catholics, Protestants and religiously unaffiliated Americans said they would vote for a qualified Mormon candidate, with little statistical difference between the groups.

Rather, anti-Mormon bias is closely tied to education levels and partisanship, Gallup said.

Nearly a quarter of Americans with a high school education or less said they would not vote for a Mormon; that number decreases to just 7 percent among those with postgraduate degrees.

Nine in 10 Republicans and 79 percent of independents said they would vote for a Mormon; just 72 percent of Democrats agreed. 

Former Governor Mitt Romney speaking at CPAC FL in Orlando, Florida.

Former Governor Mitt Romney speaking at CPAC FL in Orlando, Florida.

Gallup began asking the Mormon question in 1967 when former Michigan Gov. George Romney, Mitt Romney’s father, was a top candidate for the GOP nomination. That year,19 percent said they would not vote for a Mormon presidential candidate.

This year, 18 percent said they would not vote for a qualified Mormon candidate, down from 22 percent in 2011.

The anti-Mormon bias remains remarkably consistent, according to Gallup, considering that resistance to candidates who are black, Jewish or a woman has declined markedly since 1967.

Anti-Mormon sentiment tends to rise slightly when when Mormons are running for president, Gallup noted, with the all-time high of 24 percent coming during Romney's first presidential campaign in 2007.

The Gallup poll is based on telephone interviews conducted June 7-10 with a random sample of 1,004 adults. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

About the author

Daniel Burke

Daniel Burke worked for Religion News Service from 2006-2013. He now co-edits CNN's Belief Blog.

4 Comments

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  • OK, so there are some that have reservations about Romney being a Mormon, but it is OK to currently have a Muslim-Marxist in the White House now.

  • Basically, I support Mitt Romney 100% on two counts: He has the resume and he is a an excellent family man. Besides these primary reasons, he and Ann are great role models of success for young Americans. They have a great work ethic, have worked hard and contrary to a common belief, they were not wealthy to begin their married life. All of that experience of great success they have built is what we will get as he becomes president. I urge you to consider these latter aspects of the family that would be occupying the WH. You will never have to guess if the president is doing his job: Mitt Romney will be at worlk. Count on it.

  • if every one knew Mormonism and christianity were incompatable there would not be a problem . The problem being some people think morminism is a christian denomination .
    And they join under such false asumptions and mormon Bishops and elders teach defend and promote that Jesus and Satan are brother’s and such people not realizing the mormon Jesus is not the Jesus of the bible are sucked into that trash talk.

    but then how would a uneducated gallup polster know this unless he became educated about it..

  • Mitt Romney is a very successfull honest businessman and that’s exactly what this country needs. Here we are as a country in one of the biggest financial messes we’ve ever been in and we have a guy who has fixed problems like these for a living yet we want to criticize him because of his underwear and religion. We would rather have a wannabe Hollywood rockstar who has no idea what to do other than give people money temporarily until this country fails altogether. Yes if America fails it will be because we the people allowed it to by choosing bad leaders.

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