December 4, 2007


New Vanderbilt scientific poll reveals intense bias against Mormons; Romney must demystify his religion to gain support (Vanderbilt News Service, 12-4-2007)

Bias against Mormons is significantly more intense among the public than bias against either African Americans or women, according to a new scientific poll by three professors from Vanderbilt and Claremont Graduate universities. [...]

Key findings of the study include:

* Bias against Mormons is significantly more intense among the public compared to bias against women and blacks. The bias against Mormons is even more pronounced among conservative Evangelicals. Their bias against Mormons rivals their bias against atheists.

* Only about half the nation claims to even know a Mormon or to know that Romney is Mormon.

* The extent of the bias against Romney is moderated if the individual already knows that he is Mormon. That information seems to demystify the Mormon religion, making people more tolerant of the religion. Those who do not know Romney is Mormon exhibit much greater bias upon learning of his religion.

* When participants in the survey are provided information that stereotypes Mormons, such as ‘Mormons are part of a non-Christian cult” or “Mormons are polygamists,” they react negatively to Romney’s candidacy.

* Participants react favorably to messages that dispel the negative stereotypes about Mormons. Examples would be “about a hundred years ago the Mormon Church banned polygamy,” or “the Church of Jesus Chris of Latter-day Saints stresses traditional family values.” However, simple appeals for religious tolerance do not win over support for Romney from the respondents.

...they might have seen this story coming.

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 4, 2007 9:26 PM

I was ruminating to Mrs. Wisdom last night, and came up with the throw away prediction that Romney's "faith speech" would result in lost support, as post-speech, more people would know he was a Mormon, and thus, decide not to support him.

I could have thought of better ways to invest 20-30 million.

But He'd make a great secretary of commerce.

Posted by: Bruno at December 5, 2007 12:12 AM

I think that we have entered into very dangerous territory as we ignore Article VI of our constitution.

Posted by: startingtolearn at December 5, 2007 12:26 AM

The Democrats would face the same problem if they nominated a (nominal) Wiccan, or a militant atheist for office (although the message from the press would be 'patience and tolerance', of course). So Obama will never be asked about his religious zig-zags.

The issue for the (primarily) religious voters in the GOP has always been - get behind Mitt, a MORMON with some conservative positions and some executive appeal, or get behind Rudy, a metropolitan New Yorker with known assets and liabilities. Various party people like Hewitt and Ted Olson have endorsed them, but many conservatives waited. Fred was thought to be the MAN, but he doesn't seem to be going anywhere. If McCain had spent the last 7 years befriending conservatives instead of insulting them, he would be the nominee by acclamation, but now he is fighting for every scrap.

I do agree wtih Hugh on one point - Huckabee is being pumped by the press, partially because they want a story (especially one that mixes up Republicans), and partially because they don't want Rudy (or McCain) to run against Hillary.

8 years ago, George Bush seemed unprepared for the office. But he proved (during the campaign and the debates) to be balanced, mature, and thoughtful (certainly more so than Gore). The press didn't play it that way, but Bush went to Yale and Harvard, and was no hick.

Today, Huckabee is trying to walk the same path. Losing 100 pounds is his version of 'growing up'. Becoming governor of AR is his version of fighting the Clintons. But he hasn't got Bush's background or experience. I think the Powerline guys are right - Huckabee is the GOP version of Jimmy Carter.

I'm sure there are plenty of people in IA who will vote for Huck because he is a minister. But which Republican(s) can win OH, PA, MN, WI, and possibly CA? Only two - McCain and Rudy. Mitt can't square his religious 'problem', and Fred is somnolent.

Posted by: jim hamlen at December 5, 2007 1:11 AM

The Constitution doesn't ban him from serving. Voters do.

Posted by: oj at December 5, 2007 6:56 AM

The bias is against Mormonism, not Mormons. Mormonism is a made-up snake-oil operation, a mish-mash of Docetism and fantasy fiction. Bibically-based Christians know this.

Posted by: Lou Gots at December 5, 2007 6:10 PM


Huck is a wild card, your worries about whether he could win are well taken, but the fact is it is possible (though not probable) that he could outperform all of the candidates.

The perception (perhaps to be proven a reality) that he is "comfortable in his own skin" is a value that may be highly rated in with a populace sick of slick hucksters and inarticulate morons.

Also, Rudy is wholly unelectable. OJs last post (vanity fair) indicate that he is a negative campaign waiting to happen. What good does it do you to come within 3 points of winning CA if you lose the entire South?

Posted by: Bruno at December 5, 2007 11:17 PM

Hillary (or Obama) will carry the South? Please.

She will be lucky to win 45% in any Southern state, and won't get past 48% in VA and probably even FL.

If Huckabee is like Jimmy Carter, I doubt if many religious voters will go for him. The problem that re-surfaced just yesterday (his 'intervention' in the rape case) will derail him with the religious right, although it might endear him with the religious left.

If nominated, Rudy won't have the love from the religious conservatives. He probably won't motivate tens of thousands of Amish to vote (as Bush did in 2004). There will be pious brayers (like Dobson) who will no doubt attack him. But he might be able to reach urban Catholics in a way that even Bush couldn't.

If McCain gets the nod, he will be in a strange position - he will have to spend time in the general election wooing the Right. He also has the best platform from which to smash the Dems on the war. And on personality, he can out-charm any of them. Of course, the snarl is always there, just below the surface.

With Fred, I just don't know what to say. Maybe he is running for V-P.

And Romney is going to find the road increasingly hostile from here on out. Many Christians won't vote for him on religious grounds. The media will sneer at him (like NPR did yesterday) and belittle him openly as a robotic loon. The Left will mock him for being religious at all. He certainly won't get the response Kennedy did after he spoke to the Baptists, no matter what he says in his speech.

So what to do? Cross your fingers and hope that 55 - 58 million will vote GOP, no matter what, and that 5+ million independents vote against Hillary. For good or ill, the war will be the best issue with which to expose, mock, and crush the Democrats. All their foolishness and back-stabbing, from Murtha to Pelosi to Obama to Kerry to Edwards to Reid to Schumer to Durbin to Murray to Webb to even Bill Clinton is the best evidence against them. But will the GOP use it?

Posted by: jim hamlen at December 6, 2007 2:03 AM