22% Of Americans Still Unwilling To Vote For A Mormon

Two weeks ago, I asked whether Mitt Romney’s religion was still an issue that could hobble his Presidential campaign. Today, Gallup releases a poll that seems to say that the answer is possibly yes:

PRINCETON, NJ — Though the vast majority of Americans say they would vote for their party’s nominee for president in 2012 if that person happens to be a Mormon, 22% say they would not, a figure largely unchanged since 1967.

The new Gallup poll, conducted June 9-12, finds nearly 20% of Republicans and independents saying they would not support a Mormon for president. That is slightly lower than the 27% of Democrats saying the same.

The largest differences in opposition to voting for a Mormon for president are by educational level, with adults who have not attended college more resistant than those with some college experience or college graduates. This educational pattern is seen in attitudes about voting for someone from almost all of the specific religious or demographic groups tested in the poll.

There are no significant differences on this question by gender, age, region of the country, or religious preference. Additionally, the views of Americans who attend their place of worship weekly are no different from those of less frequent attenders or non-attenders.

Most interestingly, this 22% figure isn’t significantly different from where it has been for the past 44 years:

Interestingly the figure is also nearly identical to where anti-Catholic sentiment among voters was in the years immediately before John F. Kennedy was elected in1960:

It’s worth noting that, only 32 years before Kennedy was elected, another Catholic ran for President and was soundly defeated not the least because of bias against his religion. Ten years after that election, a full 1/3 of the population said they were unwilling to vote for a Catholic, one can only assume it was higher in 1928.

It’s also worth noting that there are a few groups that are less popular with the voting public:

They didn’t even both to poll Muslims here, but I’d bet they’d be down the bottom of the list near homosexuals and atheists. In any case, the second chart above is instructive because it shows that bias against Catholics in office plummeted in the years after Kennedy was elected. Presumably, when America does finally elect a Mormon, or a gay, or a Muslim, or an atheist President, the public discomfort with voting for such people will also decline once people realize that it’s not the end of the world if one of them takes office.

 

FILED UNDER: Quick Takes, Religion, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Hey Norm says:

    I have to join that 22%….I mean you have to question the mental competence of anyone who would want more than one wife. I’m just sayin’

  2. LaurenceB says:

    In the case of Romney, I believe he himself has endorsed the idea that no atheist should be President.

    So, I guess what I’m saying is – since he himself is something of a religious bigot in this regard – I don’t feel as bad for him as I might otherwise feel.

  3. Trumwill says:

    It’s a liability, but I suspect the numbers change when the choice comes down to Mitt Romney and Barack Obama. Particularly among the Republican hold-outs, and to a lesser extent I think independents, too. That’s not to say I am predicting a Romney victory (I’m on the record as predicting Obama’s re-election), but that Mormonism will only be a factor if it’s a tight race.

  4. ken says:

    The foundation story of Mormonism is not so distant that it cannot be exhumed and examined for factual accuracy. That in fact has been done. Guess what – there is no evidence that golden tablets or an an angel called Moroni ever existed. Apparently Joe Smith made it all up to attract the ignorant and the gullible. He had what would be called a messianic complex and needed followers like a an actor needs an audience. He got the followers and then took advantage of them by having lots of sex with lots of underage girls under cover of secret ‘marriages’. Yeah right!!!

    Today it is imperative to know if a member of the Mormon faith who would want high office actually believes in the foundational myths of his faith. It would be an indication of delusion, like a literal belief in Santa Claus, if they did. Do we actually want someone in high office who can hold such falsehoods as fact? What other falsehood are they capable of believing?

  5. Not Likely says:

    Yeah, the comparison to anti-Catholic sentiment is pretty baseless. People objected to a Catholic President because they believed he/she would hold allegiance to the Pope over allegience to the United States. People object to a Mormon President because, as noted above, the story of Mormonism, being relatively modern, has been roundly debunked. Joe Smith was a con artist, full stop. It’s a matter of judgement.

  6. Out of curiosity, did the same poll ask someone if they would vote for Mitt Romney if he was the Republican nominee? And am I the only person that thinks that some people might have answered “no” to the Mormon as President answer just because they don’t like Romney, the only Mormon running for President?

  7. Tsar Nicholas says:

    Obviously the Democrats over at Gallup seriously are in fear of a Romney candidacy.

    That said, it also happens to be true that a large number of people out there (but nowhere near 22% of the electorate; come on, that’s patently absurd) will refrain from voting for Romney specifically because he’s a Mormon. That demographic consists of white evangelical Christians, mostly located in the South and in the Mid-West, nearly all of whom fall into the social conservative category.

    It is possible in the event of a Romney candidacy and a close general election that Rambobama ultimately will be reelected by the margin of social conservatives who stay home and who don’t vote for Romney on the Mormon issue alone. If the margin is substantial, however, one way or the other, the anti-Mormon vote will not be the deciding factor.

  8. Not Likely says:

    Sorry Nicolas, but that demographic is most definitely not constrained to “white evangelical Christians.”

  9. wr says:

    Timothy Watson — Romney is not the only Mormon running for president. Huntsman is, too.

  10. PD Shaw says:

    “am I the only person that thinks that some people might have answered “no” to the Mormon as President answer just because they don’t like Romney, the only Mormon running for President?”

    No, your not; and I can’t help but think the polling over the last few years, showing a bump and a regression to norm, may reflect Romney’s arch. First, it turns out he’s not so bad (Mormon polling rises eight points) and then it turns out people don’t think he’s so great either (Mormon polling drops four points).

    WR: I doubt 97% of the respondents knew that Huntsman was running “and” he was a Mormon.

  11. Tylerh says:

    “Hey Norm”,

    not only is that “joke” tired and offensive, it’s also wildly inaccurate.

    The LDS church officially abandoned plural marriage in it’s 1890 Manifesto. Plural marriage hasn’t played a role in the mainstream Mormon life in living memory.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1890_Manifesto

  12. PD Shaw says:

    What’s surprising to me about this poll is the regional variation. Following figures based upon “would vote” minus “would not vote” for a Mormon:

    East: +61
    West: +55
    South: +51
    Midwest: +46

    I would have assumed more anti-Mormonism in the West and less in the Midwest. Since the Midwest is likely to include many of the crucial battleground states, this might make a big difference. Whatever the anti-Mormon sentiment in the South and the Coasts, I’m not sure it matters. A few Western states and a few Midwestern states might be important (unless of course they never liked Romney to begin with)

  13. People object to a Mormon President because, as noted above, the story of Mormonism, being relatively modern, has been roundly debunked. Joe Smith was a con artist, full stop. It’s a matter of judgement.

    Most other religions probably had almost the exact same start as Mormonism. They just have the advantage of having been started so long ago, there’s no records left of how shady their origins were.

  14. I would have assumed more anti-Mormonism in the West and less in the Midwest.

    You don’t suppose there might be an outlier in the Western US thats making Mormons seem far more popular there than they would otherwise. Like, oh, I don’t know… Utah?

  15. PJ says:

    @PD Shaw:
    What’s surprising to me about this poll is the regional variation. Following figures based upon “would vote” minus “would not vote” for a Mormon:

    East: +61
    West: +55
    South: +51
    Midwest: +46

    I would have assumed more anti-Mormonism in the West and less in the Midwest. Since the Midwest is likely to include many of the crucial battleground states, this might make a big difference. Whatever the anti-Mormon sentiment in the South and the Coasts, I’m not sure it matters. A few Western states and a few Midwestern states might be important (unless of course they never liked Romney to begin with)

    Since the regional subgroups in the poll are rather small, a 95% confidence intervall for the “would vote” minus “would not vote” would get a range something like

    East +49 to +73
    West +43 to +67
    South +39 to +63
    Midwest +34 to +58

    which means that you actually can’t say, based on this poll, with 95% certainty that a certain region has a higher anti-Mormon sentiment than any other.

  16. ken says:

    Christianity does not have a con artist child molester as its founder. Mormonism does. We can say this with certainty because the founder, Joe Smith, lived only a short while ago and the historical record is clear testimony to who and what he was.

    Mormon leadership may have given up on official sanctioned polygamy but it is still practiced by many Mormons. In order to make it work the bigamist target young girls before they are independent enough to resist the perverts demands for sex.

    But that is not what is will be at issue. What the public is curious about is whether or not the person asking for our trust holds rational beliefs. Does Romney believe in the sacred fairy tales of the Mormon faith, or does he acknowledge that they are just fictions and try to explain them as metaphor and allegory.

    One way or another he will have to explain why he holds to a faith founded on lies and deceit. Gold tablets!!! Yeah right!!!! The Book of Mormon is totally delusional. Unlike other religious books there is not a single historical fact in the entire work.

  17. PD Shaw says:

    Stormy Dragon: The most anti-Mormon people I know are from regions (in the West) with a lot of Mormons. There may be a relationship.

    PJ: Thanks for bringing statistics into the matter; now I know nothing, or less than before.

  18. Christianity does not have a con artist child molester as its founder.

    St. Paul sure strikes me as a con artist with that whole “conversion on the Road to Damascus” story, and I’d say he’s the founder of modern Christianity.

  19. @wr
    That I did not know, but I would still say that when a pollster asks someone about a Mormon being President, the first person that pops into their mind is Mitt Romney.

  20. PJ says:

    @Timothy Watson:

    Out of curiosity, did the same poll ask someone if they would vote for Mitt Romney if he was the Republican nominee? And am I the only person that thinks that some people might have answered “no” to the Mormon as President answer just because they don’t like Romney, the only Mormon running for President?

    That I did not know, but I would still say that when a pollster asks someone about a Mormon being President, the first person that pops into their mind is Mitt Romney.

    A lot of voters didn’t like Obama or Clinton four years ago, and wouldn’t have voted for them, but that didn’t have an influence when Gallup asked about voting for a black candidate or a woman.

  21. Jim says:

    Ken you are an uniformed idiot. To anyone who actually knows about the mormon faith in detail, they can see that you have no idea what you are actually talking about. Any religion can be picked apart. Just read about Abrahams life in the bible and you can come up with a ton of material.

    Virtually everything you have said thus far is false and you are either too stupid or uninformed to realize that. Why don’t you let us know what religion you are and I guarantee it can be picked apart to the point that you look like even more of a fool than you already do for believing it.

  22. john personna says:

    I think the change in the “Catholic” chart is the most amazing datum.

    People objected to a Catholic President because they believed he/she would hold allegiance to the Pope over allegience to the United States.

    That’s what we were told in school, but I think it’s a little reductionist. Catholic versus Protestant relations, through history, were not so simple. Throw in a few massacres now and then.

    No, I think the fall in Catholic acceptance might have something to do with the Evangelical rise, and a shift to belief that Catholics are less normal Christians than they used to be.

    (I am neither a Catholic nor an Evangelical, so I would listen to personal experiences here.)