Roughly one-in-five Americans would not vote for a Mormon presidential candidate, according to a new Gallup poll.
The survey, released today, found that nearly 20% of Republicans and independents would not vote for a Mormon candidate. Democrats are even less likely to support a Mormon — 27% of those surveyed said they too wouldn’t vote for a Mormon for president.
The findings are consistent with public opinion surveys, stretching back at least four decades.
The Mormon bias could pose a major political problem for 2012 GOP frontrunner Mitt Romney and his distant cousin Jon Huntsman, who is announcing his presidential candidacy tomorrow. A recent Pew centre survey found that while 25% of Americans would be less likely to support a Mormon candidate, that number rose to 34% among white evangelical voters, a key pillar of the Republican base.
The Mormon issue could be particularly salient for Romney. Unlike other Mormon politicians – including Huntsman and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid – Romney has close ties to the LDS Church. A fifth-generation Mormon whose family was involved in the founding of the original church, Romney is a former lay bishop for the Mormon church in Massachusetts.
As last week’s Newsweek cover story points out, Mormons have made significant inroads in the American mainstream in the past few years (i.e. Glenn Beck, Twilight, Big Love, the Book of Mormon). But that increased cultural presence hasn’t translated into mainstream acceptance. In the leadup to the 2012 primary election, Romney and Huntsman have distanced themselves from the Mormon faith.
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