Poll: Romney's Mormonism May Be An Issue

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Republican Mitt Romney, a Mormon who announced his candidacy for president on Tuesday, may face an obstacle because of his religion, according to a CBS News poll.

A majority of Americans say they would vote for a qualified Mormon from either party for president, but fewer have favorable views of the Mormon religion than of many other faiths.

The poll asked Americans whether they would support a Mormon candidate for president, without mentioning Romney's name. Sixty-three percent said they would vote for a qualified Republican who was Mormon, and 66 percent said they'd back a qualified Democrat who was Mormon. But about one in four people said they would not vote for a Mormon candidate for president.


VOTE FOR A QUALIFIED MORMAN CANDIDATE IF HE/SHE WERE… (Among registered voters)

A REPUBLICAN:
Yes
63%
No
27%

A DEMOCRAT:
Yes
66%
No
24%

The percentage of Americans who said they would vote for a Mormon for president was smaller than the number who said they'd vote for either a woman or a black candidate in a CBS News poll conducted last month.

In that poll, more than eight in 10 voters said they'd support a qualified black candidate of either party. Seventy-seven percent said they'd vote for a woman if she were a Republican, while 82 percent would back her if she were a Democrat.

Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, remains unknown to the vast majority of Americans, including eight in 10 Republicans, according to the poll, which was conducted before he made his announcement.

Romney is not the first presidential candidate whose religion is an issue to some voters. When John F. Kennedy ran for president in 1960 there were concerns about his being a Catholic. But in a May 1960 Gallup Poll, 71 percent of Americans said they would support a well-qualified Catholic candidate for president.

Americans have a less favorable view of the Mormon religion than most other faiths. Protestantism, Catholicism, Judaism, and Christian fundamentalism were all seen more positively than Mormonism in the poll. Only Islam, of all the religions asked about, ranked lower.

Twenty-five percent of Americans said they have a favorable impression of the Mormon religion, while three in 10 have an unfavorable impression. Another 39 percent haven't heard enough about the religion to say.

Other religions are viewed more favorably: Protestantism (61%), Catholicism (51%), Judaism (48%), and Christian fundamentalist religions (35%).


WHAT IS YOUR IMPRESSION OF…?

Protestantism/other Christians:
Favorable
61%
Unfavorable
13%
Haven't heard enough
23%

The Catholic religion:
Favorable
51%
Unfavorable
30%
Haven't heard enough
17%

The Jewish religion:
Favorable
48%
Unfavorable
13%
Haven't heard enough
33%

Christian fundamentalist religions:
Favorable
35%
Unfavorable
26%
Haven't heard enough
33%

The Mormon religion:
Favorable
25%
Unfavorable
30%
Haven't heard enough
39%

Islam:
Favorable
15%
Unfavorable
46%
Haven't heard enough
34%

While more than half of Americans view Catholicism favorably, 30 percent have an unfavorable impression of the religion — the same number who view Mormonism negatively.

It should be noted that Americans are not very familiar with the Mormon religion and its practices. When asked directly, 57 percent said they knew little or nothing about the Mormon faith. That number was higher than for all the other religions asked about in this poll except for Islam, which 60 percent said they knew little or nothing about.

Americans are also not very familiar with Mitt Romney. Even eight in 10 Republicans said they were undecided or haven't heard enough to have an opinion about him, according to the poll, which was conducted before he made his announcement.

  • Joel Roberts

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