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2012 and Latter-Day Taint

The idea of a Mormon president is as unpopular today as the proposition of a Catholic occupant of the White House was in 1959. Gallup [1] recently asked “if your party nominated a generally well-qualified person for president who happened to be Mormon, would you vote for that person?” One in four Democrats and one in five Republicans and Independents say they couldn’t support a member of the LDS Church. The latter data point is of course more relevant, since Harry Reid is not mounting a primary challenge to President Obama — but should Romney and Huntsman be worried?

Mormons are only more popular than gays and atheists:

At 22%, Americans’ resistance to electing a Mormon president, even one nominated by their own party, is exceeded only by their opposition to electing someone who is either gay or lesbian (32%) or an atheist (49%). By contrast, less than half as many, 10%, say they would not vote for a Hispanic, and fewer than 10% would not vote for a nominee who is Jewish, Baptist, Catholic, female, or black.

Data related to the the oft-cited Kennedy election suggests that a Mormon candidate might be able to gain some ground before November 2012, but not much. It also might be relevant that Mormons only make up 2-3% of the U.S. population, compared to Catholics at over 23% in 1960 [2], the last time Catholics acted as a swing vote:

Still, it is significant that in 1959, the year before John F. Kennedy won election as the nation’s first Catholic president, 25% of Americans — including 22% of Democrats, 33% of Republicans, and 18% of independents — said they would not vote for a Catholic. Public opposition fell to 21% by May 1960 and to 13% by August 1961.

Finally, some more interesting slicing of the data by Gallup, which suggests that educational attainment decreases bias against Mormon and other minority candidates:

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.


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#1 Comment By Thomas O. Meehan On June 20, 2011 @ 3:57 pm

The Mormons are upright respectable people whom I welcome as neighbors. Unfortunately their curious belief that Indians, including Mexican Indians, are the lost tribes of Israel puts them on the wrong side of the immigration debate.

Romney would stand athwart our fight to regain control of our borders and defend our culture and blood. Anyone who cares about the America that they were born in, cannot vote for Romney.

#2 Comment By David Lindsay On June 20, 2011 @ 5:52 pm

The real story of Romney’s frontrunner status is that, for all the media lather over the Tea Party, the GOP primary electorate is still dominated by the people who nominated Bush I, Dole, Bush II as he presented himself in 2000, and McCain. The rise within the GOP of people who believe that America is Zion, and the only Zion is America? That’ll do nicely.

Glenn Beck’s readers, viewers and listeners may end up converting, as he did, to the only form of religion in which Manifest Destiny makes sense as anything other than an add-on and an aberration. A Beckian Mormonism would be something quite different from that taught by the grand old men of Salt Lake City. That ought to be impossible, since being a Mormon means submitting to the authority of the Prophet and First President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. But they already tolerate Beck himself, as we Catholics tolerate certain high-profile neoconservative converts, although Fr Neuhaus, at least, did seem to be coming round by the end, and might very well have done so in the end.

Bringing us to that which is really sought by those who seek that fullness of Christianity which includes priesthood, a high theology of baptism, a living earthly Teaching Office focused in a person on this earth, an intercessory relationship between those on this side of bodily death and those on the other side of it, and so much else besides.

#3 Comment By Bill O’Malley On June 20, 2011 @ 11:33 pm

Anyone who believes in the goofy Mormon dogma is not qualified to be elected dog catcher. Of course, the Christian religion is not much less goofy and would attract no more followers, except for 2000 years of the church exterminating heretics.

#4 Comment By MattSwartz On June 21, 2011 @ 9:12 pm

Of course, the Christian religion is not much less goofy and would attract no more followers, except for 2000 years of the church exterminating heretics.

Is this the level of rigor you devote to all questions, or do you actually bother to know something about matters of lesser importance than this one? If your research punched at the same weight as your smugness, you’d know that Christians killed no heretics whatsoever for first quarter of that period (which is a streak unprecedented in the history of successful religion), that in the next two quarters of it they killed thousands (that’s a consensus, not a typo) of heretics, and in the most recent quarters most of the religious violence that has occurred has been only tertiarily religious in nature, with economics and politics serving as larger causalities.

#5 Comment By Jeff Schrade On June 21, 2011 @ 10:07 pm

I suspect a Mormon will one day be president… here’s a brief list of things members of the faith have accomplished so far…

Members of the Mormon faith have run Kodak, American Express, Novell, Deloitte & Touche, Dell Computer, Diebold, Times Mirror, JetBlue airlines, Iomega, and more…

Members of the faith have run various federal agencies such as the U.S. Treasury, Health and Human Services, Interior, NASA, the Department of Education, the Department of Agriculture, Indian Affairs, the Federal Researve, and more…

Mormons have been elected governor of Utah, Idaho, Massachucetts, Nevada, and Michigan.

Three Mormons have been awarded the Medal of Honor… one has been awarded the Heisman Tropy…

Mormon women have won the Miss America and America’s Junior Miss pagaents.

Mormons have run Harvard’s Business School, Ohio State University, Washington State University, and more… Mormons have coached a variety of NFL, NBA and college teams.

One Mormon invented the first television… another invented the 50-caliber machine gun…

Mormons have won the Pulitzer Prize, the Academy Award, and the Tony Award. One Mormon now leads the American Petroleum Institute and while another leads the National Association of Broadcasters.

Three Mormons have served as four-star generals. One has served as “the” national security advisor — to two U.S. Presidents.

Millions of other Mormons have led quiet lives, working hard in their communities to make them better places to live. Some serve on city councils, county commissions and in state legislatures. Others volunteer at foodbanks and homeless shelters. Others teach school, run small businesses, work in factories, trade associations, offices, and so forth. Some serve in the U.S. Congress….

I suppose I could go on… but I suspect that as time goes on, and Mormons keep on doing the right things, the general public will say, “Hey, I don’t know about the beliefs, but they seem to have values I share and judgement I can trust for my country and community. I’ll vote for a Mormon to be President. Why not?”

#6 Comment By Art R. On June 22, 2011 @ 8:20 am

@Jeff Schrade

Who was the Mormon who “invented the first television?” You’re not thinking of the imposter Philo Farnsworth who claimed that he was the inventor of TV on the old “I’ve Got a Secret” TV show?

Analog television as we know it was developed almost exclusively by the Russian émigré physicist, Vladimir Zworykin.

#7 Comment By B.D. On June 22, 2011 @ 5:30 pm

Just like Alexander Graham Bell, it’s all about the patents, and Farnsworth had them all.