October 28, 2011
Polls show that there has been relatively little change on the subject of a Mormon presidential candidate since 2007.
Polls show that there has been relatively little change on the subject of a Mormon presidential candidate since 2007. Approximately 25 percent of voters are very resistant to voting for a Mormon candidate for president. The only perceptible change is that President Obama and his policies are so deeply unpopular with a majority of these voters that more of them would be likely to “hold their nose” and vote for a Mormon, if he were indeed the G.O.P. nominee, against the incumbent president.
Undoubtedly, the percent of voters who would not vote for a Mormon candidate would go up if the candidate played up his Mormonism because these voters would draw the conclusion that he would be promoting his faith as president. However, it is also true that the percentage of these people who would vote against a Mormon candidate would probably go up if he tried to play down or de-emphasize his faith. Why? A significant percentage of these voters are religious and their objections are for religious reasons, and they would have less respect for a candidate who seemed to be downplaying his religious convictions.
Jon Huntsman and Mitt Romney will face a very difficult time convincing a quarter of the electorate to vote for them in the G.O.P. primaries. If they both continue to deal with their Mormon faith as they have up till now, they would fare comparatively better in a general election race. Why? Many voters who would vote against them in the primary because of their Mormon faith would vote for them in spite of their faith in a general election against a president whose policies they find odious.
By Richard Land
Originally Published as part of The New York Times' online Room for Debate piece titled "Are Republicans Ready Now for a Mormon President?"