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Will Mitt Romney's Mormon Faith Matter?

Posted on 1/3/2008 1:45:00 PM

Republican Mitt Romney is up amongst the favorites in the pre-election opinion polls. A successful businessman, Romney is popular for his role he played in the Salt Lake City Olympics. Besides, he has the appropriate moderate republican lineage, his father having served as the governor of Michigan. And he has the good looks and charm, decidedly an advantage for winning an election.

His flip flopping on issues such as abortion and gay marriages has brought him considerable amount of negative publicity, but his humor and persuasive style should help him tide over this. But there is one more problem. It is Romney's faith. He is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), more popularly known as Mormons. Before him, Orrin Hatch, who ran for president in 2000, was also a Mormon. He lost the Republican nomination to George W. Bush.

Media coverage on Romney usually includes references to his Mormon faith. The general feeling in many Americans is that Mormons are odd people. The bias is mainly rooted in ignorance and popular association of the Mormon community with bizarre practices such as polygamy. And while Americans are progressively becoming more tolerant, it is anyone's guess how they would receive a Mormon President.

For instance, in a poll conducted during the late 1960's, the percentage of Americans who were averse to voting for an individual from the Jewish or Catholic faith was in double digits. In 1999, these figures had dropped considerably to around 5 percent for both. However, the percentage of Americans who said they would not vote for a Mormon president has remained practically unchanged since 1967.

In such a scenario, moderate Republicans, and especially evangelical votes that account for almost 30 percent of the total in states such as South Carolina and Virginia, may provide a very real stumbling block in Romney's race for president.

 
 
 
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