Are Voters Ready for a Mormon Prez?

Written by Jeb Golinkin on Thursday June 9, 2011

Romney is often derided as a flip-flopper. A new poll though reveals that voters' biggest issue with him may be the one belief he's held on to his entire life: his religion.

Political watchers claim that the greatest impediment standing between Mitt Romney and the White House is his almost comic history of flip-flopping on major issues. Guess again. Ironically, a new Quinnipiac poll reveals that Mitt’s biggest political problem may be the only belief that he has held constantly throughout his career: his religion.

Similar to the ABC News/Washington Post poll, the new Quinnipiac poll reveals that, as things stand now, Romney appears to be the only Republican capable of knocking off the president in the general election. Head to head with the president, the poll shows Romney trailing by 6 points (47% – 41%).  The results show Palin getting annihilated (53% - 36%), while Huntsman and T-Paw don’t do much better: trailing 48% - 34% and 48% - 36% respectively.

However, there is bad news for Romney (and the GOP’s chances of taking back the White House). Americans, it turns out, don’t much care for the idea of a Mormon being president. The poll finds that less than half of voters have a favorable view of the Mormon religion. More than three in ten have an unfavorable view of the religion. This could be overcome by Americans’ distaste for President Obama’s politics, but it appears that for once, identity politics might actually swing in favor of the Democrats (a black Democrat, at that). Only 60% of those that responded to the poll said they were entirely or somewhat comfortable with a Mormon being President.

Yet, despite this unfortunate reaction and Romney’s record of flip-flopping, he’s running far ahead of the other GOP candidates and is toe to toe with Obama. This fact speaks to the weakness of the Republican field and the high level of voter discontent with Obama.

In 2008, Obama inspired a large portion of the country to actively support (rather than simply settle on) his candidacy.  No candidate (the president included) will inspire the same enthusiasm this time. For a variety of reasons -- rightly or wrongly -- when Americans head to the polls in November 2012 it appears they will be voting either out of sheer party loyalty or for the candidate they dislike the least.