Lawrence Research Poll: Mormon Presidential Candidates Face Bias

But National Poll Reveals Prejudice is Not That Deep

SANTA ANA, Calif.., Sept. 6, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Newly released poll results indicate that a generic Mormon faces a 7-to-15% anti-Mormon bias among voters, but a specific Mormon, such as Mitt Romney, fares better than those findings might suggest.

Pollster Gary Lawrence, whose firm conducted a July nationwide poll of 905 registered voters among a broader sample of 1000 adults, said his study confirmed the previously measured bias:

  • The traditional wording asks whether the respondent would vote for a generally well-qualified person the voter's own party has nominated if the nominee happens to be of a particular religion.  Gallup's Yes-No numbers over the years for a Mormon range from a high of 80-17 to a low of 72-24.  Lawrence Research's July study measured a 58-point difference (74-16), a little more optimistic than Gallup's 54-point difference (76-22) taken in June.
  • Lawrence's poll also asked voters to what extent they would consider voting for a person of a specific religion.  Five times as many voters would never consider voting for a Mormon (20%) as compared to a Catholic or a Baptist (4%).  As for support, 50% would definitely consider a Catholic and 47% a Baptist, but only 30% would definitely consider a Mormon.

However, while such results have been touted as an uphill battle for Mormons running for office, other questions demonstrate these generic measures may not be that important.  

"If religion played a big role in the vote decision, more people could correctly identify candidates' religions," Lawrence said. "While 85% of voters have heard of Mitt Romney, only 41% know he is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, aka Mormon, despite considerable publicity.  Only 11% and 6% respectively know that Jon Huntsman, Jr. and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid are also Mormons."  

Similarly, the survey found that 7% of voters correctly identify Michelle Bachman's evangelical Lutheranism, and merely 1% know Rick Perry is a Methodist.  Further confusion: 17% still think Barack Obama is a Muslim.

"Those aren't numbers that suggest passionate interest," Lawrence said.

Other indicators:

  • The 41% who know Romney's religion are 13 points more likely to vote for a Mormon than are those who do not know his religion, which demonstrates that the bias against a faceless Mormon doesn't stand up when an actual Mormon enters the picture.  Being a Mormon is not the hindrance for Romney some analysts have supposed, and may be a plus.
  • Of those who said they would never consider voting for a Mormon, only half stuck by that position when asked if they would vote for a Mormon who is a well-qualified nominee of their party, another indicator that the anti-Mormon bias is not that deep.  

A hardcore group of about 10% will never vote for a Mormon, but for the rest of the nation, a candidate's membership in this increasingly visible religion is not a salient factor in the vote decision.  

Full results from Dr. Lawrence's national study may be found in his latest book Mormons Believe … What?!  Fact and Fiction About a Rising Religion to be released September 22nd.

Gary Lawrence (Ph.D., Stanford) has been a public opinion pollster for 40 years.  He is a Mormon who is uncommitted in the presidential race.

Methodology:  Random-digit-dialed sample, July 6-13, 2011, 19% from cell phones.  Margin of error: +/- 3.1 percentage points.  

SOURCE Lawrence Research

Best of Content We Love 2014 

Custom Packages

Browse our custom packages or build your own to meet your unique communications needs.

Start today.


PR Newswire Membership

Fill out a PR Newswire membership form or contact us at (888) 776-0942.

Learn about PR Newswire services

Request more information about PR Newswire products and services or call us at (888) 776-0942.