At tonight’s GOP primary debate, one topic seems highly likely to come up: Mitt Romney’s Mormonism. Jon Huntsman, the other Mormon candidate, is boycotting the debate because Nevada had the audacity to move its caucus up to mid-January (leaving open the frightening possibility of a December New Hampshire primary), so Romney will be on his own if the recent fracas over whether the Mormon faith is really a Christian religion gets brought up. We can speculate forever about whether Romney’s religion will impact his chances of winning either the GOP nomination or, ultimately, presidential office, but we do have a good sense for what Americans think about Mormonism. Interestingly, although most Americans interact frequently (if at all) with Mormons and believe that the Mormon faith is significantly different from their own, Mormons are still perceived favorably by two-thirds (66%) of the public.
We compiled our most relevant data about Mormonism (in general and as it pertains to Mitt Romney’s campaign) into a handy factsheet just for you. A sneak peek:
- Religious Identification of Mitt Romney: Only 4-in-10 Americans correctly identify Mitt Romney as Mormon. One-in-ten say he is Protestant or Catholic. Nearly half (46 percent) say they do not know Romney’s religion identity. [Source: PRRI/RNS Religion News Survey, July 2011]
- Perceived Religious Difference of Mitt Romney: Forty-three percent of Americans think that Romney’s religion is somewhat or very different than their own, while 22 percent say his religion is somewhat or very similar to their own, and 31 percent say they don’t know what his religious beliefs are. [Source: PRRI/RNS Religion News Survey, July 2011]
- Impact of Perceived Religious Differences: This past summer, among all Americans, 44 percent of Americans report they would vote for President Obama, compared to 36 percent who say they would vote for Romney. However, among those who say Romney’s religious beliefs are somewhat or very different from their own, Obama comes out strongly ahead: 55 percent to 28 percent. [Source: PRRI/RNS Religion News Survey, July 2011]
For more, including some vintage “Figuring Faith” articles by our very own Dr. Robert P. Jones, take a look at the factsheet.