I will say: I was quite surprised by the results of this Gallop poll.
Though the vast majority of Americans say they would vote for their party’s nominee for president in 2012 if that person happens to be a Mormon, 22% say they would not, a figure largely unchanged since 1967.
I thought that the percentage would marginally greater for the US as a whole. I was actually astonished that the South was only at 23% considering the predominance of Southern Baptist Churches which have received a steady diet of teaching that Mormons are a cult. (For a sampling, Google the words “Mormon” and “Cult” together) In 2007, Time reported:
EthicsDaily.com reports that the pastor of the largest Baptist church in Spartanburg, S.C., first endorsed Romney and recently retracted the endorsement, calling it a “personal mistake,” while a prominent colleague in Texas is quoted as saying, “Even though he talks about Jesus as his Lord and Savior, he is not a Christian… Mormonism is a cult.”
Another intriguing statistic, 27% of Democrats would not vote for a Mormon whereas 18% of Republicans would not support one. This probably has more to do with two major Republican candidates being Mormon on the date of the poll.
However, I cannot believe this bodes well for Romney or Huntsman; it is 3 times the initial opposition of Roman Catholic, Baptist, or Jewish. Gallop opines though
Currently, 18% of Republicans say they would not vote for their party’s nominee if that person happened to be Mormon. This may be less troubling for Romney in the GOP primaries, where the vote could be highly fractured anyway, than in the general election, where — should he win the Republican nomination — he would need nearly complete support from Republicans to be competitive with President Obama. However, Kennedy’s success in overcoming a similar challenge in 1960 relating to his Catholic faith may give hope to Romney and his supporters about his electability in 2012.
This will become a more prominent and nasty issue. I believe, if and when Romney or Huntsman pulls away from the pack, this issue will arise as it did in 2008. I think we can expect flyers to be distributed to and among churches depicting either of these men as “the Big Love candidate” or other links to polygamy and code words like Huckabee used in 2008: ‘‘Don’t Mormons believe that Jesus and the devil are brothers?’’
(This makes former Alabama Governor Bob Riley’s cross-country motorcycle ride all the more conspicuous as a campaign tour for Vice-President. Romney especially could solidify his candidacy and dispel these concerns with a southern Governor and Southern Baptist Sunday School teacher and deacon on the ticket. Romney approached Riley about his interest in 2008)