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One Other Thing

Michael Medved has no idea what he’s talking about when he writes:

When people respond to Mitt Romney at this stage in the campaign, they’re expressing their attitudes toward Mormonism –not their reaction to a specific and dynamic candidate.

Yet, as of the infamous Rasmussen poll last fall, only 19% of likely voters could identify Romney as the Mormon in the race, but this didn’t stop likely voters from giving him fairly high unfavourable ratings (30%).  It is possible that all of the voters who could identify Romney as Mormon had an unfavourable impression, but it is not likely.  Since then, Romney’s unfavs have gone up to at least 35%, which could very well mean that the more people get to know Romney, the less they like him.  While he remains a blank slate on which they can inscribe whatever they’d like, he’s much more of a desirable candidate.  In the end, it will be a combination of widespread anti-Mormonism (reflected in that same poll) and Romney’s own numerous flaws as a candidate trying to run as the social conservative that he probably still isn’t that will bring down his candidacy.  Medved also underestimates the depth and breadth of anti-Mormon sentiment if he allows only that roughly 20% would never support a Mormon for President–the figures are more likely in the high 30s or low 40s according to polls taken in the last four months.

Medved also errs badly here:

His devout adherence to the Church of Jesus Christ, Latter Day Saints may look like a huge handicap at the moment, but the vast majority of GOP voters will base their ultimate decisions on factors other than the faith of the candidates. 

Sure, Medved, whatever you say.  Even though the same Rasmussen poll tells us that 53% of conservatives and 72% of evangelicals believe that a candidate’s faith is “very important” and another 28% of conservatives and another 20% of evangelicals believe that a candidate’s faith is “somewhat important,” I’m sure Medved must be right.  Even though 48% of Republicans say that a candidate’s faith is “very important” and 30% say that that it is “somewhat important” (obviously more intense than the Democrats at 29/26%), I’m sure the view that Romney is from a little-known, non-Christian religion will not be a major obstacle for his campaign.  After all, once the voters learn about his egregious and almost certainly cynical flip-flopping on social issues, his signature on that horrible health-care bill and his well-nigh mad rhetoric about Iran, they won’t need to know that he is a Mormon to cause them to run screaming from the room.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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