Mormon faith may hurt Romney in U.S. primaries – poll

November 23, 2011

 Mitt Romney’s Mormonism could hurt the Republican candidate with evangelical voters in his fight for the party’s presidential nomination, but those voters would favor him over President Barack Obama in the general election, according to a newly released poll.

Some 15 percent of evangelical Christians, a key constituency in the Republican presidential nomination battle, say they are wary of Mormonism and will not vote for Mitt Romney, the Pew Research Center poll found.

But those same voters were more likely to favor the former Massachusetts governor, a Mormon, in the November 2012 general election over President Barack Obama, whom they dislike more, the telephone poll conducted Nov. 9-14 found.

“You do see the potential for Romney’s Mormonism to have an impact on the primary campaign,” said Pew research Greg Smith.

“Those who think Mormonism is not a Christian religion are more reticent about Romney and his candidacy. At the same time those people are the people who are the strongest critics of Barack Obama. Fully 92 percent of them say they have an unfavorable view of Obama,” he said.

Nearly two out of three white evangelical Christian voters in the poll did not believe Mormonism is a Christian religion and 15 percent of evangelicals would not support Romney.

Evangelical Christians may account for 60 percent of the votes cast in two of the first four Republican nomination contests, the Jan. 3 Iowa caucuses and the Jan. 21 South Carolina primary.

(Photo: Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney greets supporters after speaking at the Faith and Freedom Coalition in Washington June 3, 2011. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts)

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