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Friday, February 15, 2008

Mitt’s Mormon Problem

posted by on February 15 at 13:13 PM

So Romney endorsed McCain yesterday, which gives me a fresh Mitt Romney newspeg to hang this post on: Last Friday the Wall Street Journal ran a postmortem on Romney’s campaign. Their conclusion? A lot of Americans—half of all Americans—wouldn’t be comfortable voting for a Mormon.

Mitt Romney’s campaign for the presidency brought more attention to the Mormon Church than it has had in years. What the church discovered was not heartening…. A Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll in late January revealed that 50% of Americans said they would have reservations or be “very uncomfortable” about a Mormon as president….

The Mormon religion “was the silent factor in a lot of the decision making by evangelicals and others,” says Democratic pollster Peter Hart, who conducted the poll. The Romney campaign ran into “a religious bias head wind,” Mr. Hart and his Republican polling partner, Bill McInurff, wrote late last month.

I’d like to see a state-by-state breakdown of those poll results. Because I’d like to know exactly where all those religiously intolerant voters are. All I know now is where they’re not: They’re not in true-blue, largely-secular, Ted-Kennedy-electing, gay-and-lesbian-marrying, left-leaning Massachusetts, where Mitt Romney won the governorship by 5 percentage points in 2002. Liberal voters, it seems, weren’t “very uncomfortable” about voting for a Mormon chief executive—well, at least they weren’t uncomfortable about supporting the 2002 version of Mitt Romney, i.e. the pro-choice, pro-gay-rights, fiscally-conservative, socially-liberal Mitt Romney. I’m thinking that if the Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll were broken down by state, we’d find that those states with higher percentages of “values voters,” i.e. conservative Christian voters, would be much less likely to vote for a Mormon governor or president than the voters in liberal, secular Massachusetts.

So, Joel, please explain to us again how it’s “the secular left [has] to be more tolerant.” It seems to me, as I’ve already pointed out, that the secular left is a model of religious tolerance. Hey, we voted for Romney 2002 despite his Mormonism. Religious voters, however, couldn’t support Romney 2008 on account of his Mormonism.

Romney’s political success when he faced liberal voters Massachusetts, and his political failure when he faced conservative and religious voters in GOP primaries, makes it pretty clear that if anyone needs to learn to be more tolerant, Joel, it’s the religious right, not the secular left.

RSS icon Comments


He is such a fucking idiot.

Posted by Mr. Poe | February 15, 2008 1:15 PM

Of course we're not comfortable voting for Mormons. We're also not comfortable voting for Scientologists either.

Posted by Will in Seattle | February 15, 2008 1:19 PM

The anti-mormon sentiment was certainly part of the Republican caucuses here in Iowa. The home schoolers (who are right wing here) were not about to go with someone wearing sacred underwear who thought the messiah was returning to Missouri. And Huckleberry was happy to alude to these things often enough to get this rather insular group of folks talking.

Posted by Mike in Iowa | February 15, 2008 1:22 PM

No, you're right. The Bible-thumpers are, as you well know, totally intolerant of anything different. Which is reason #1 why they scare the hell out of me.

Posted by Fifty-Two-Eighty | February 15, 2008 1:22 PM

i'll TOLERATE mormons. but i don't have to like them, and unless they're dems or greens, i sure as shit ain't going to vote for them.

magic jammy freaks.

Posted by max solomon | February 15, 2008 1:23 PM

Scientologists and LDS are NOT the same level of crazy. Please.

Posted by me | February 15, 2008 1:31 PM

Mormons officially believe that Native Americans are a lost tribe of Israel. This is crazy revisionist bullshit. I'm a liberal secular voter and there's no way I'd vote for a Mormon for such high office. I AM intolerant of such blatant, stubborn ignorance. (And no, I would not vote for a fundamentalist Christian either.)

Posted by Katelyn | February 15, 2008 1:37 PM

The "secular left" didn't vote for Romney in Mass. They voted for his opponent Shannon O'Brien, who got 45% of the vote. Massachusetts is not a liberal state; it's a Democratic state. There's a difference.

Posted by Fnarf | February 15, 2008 1:39 PM

Secular voters are comfortable voting for religious candidates. Heck, we've been voting mostly for Christian's are entire lives. But Christian voters have a problem voting for a candidate who isn't a fellow Christian, no matter whether that candidate be a Jew, a Mormon, or a secularist.

Posted by Brendan | February 15, 2008 1:41 PM

it's all about the magic panties.

Posted by brandon | February 15, 2008 1:41 PM

I don't see how it's "intolerant" to refuse to vote for someone who chooses to belong to an organization that practices discrimination, whether that organization is religious or not.

Posted by conium | February 15, 2008 1:44 PM

@11 I hardly think the reason so many Evangelicals have problems with voting for a Mormon is because the Mormons discriminate (I'm assuming you mean against gays, women, and minorities?). I mean, it's why *I* would have trouble voting for a Mormon, but it's also why I'd have trouble voting for and Evangelical. Or most Republicans.

Posted by exelizabeth | February 15, 2008 1:46 PM

Harry Reid = Mormon. That doesn't seem
to be a problem for the dems.

Posted by j | February 15, 2008 1:55 PM

@12 I agree - as an ethnic Mormon I know there's a great deal of fear of the LDS church that's not based on its policies, but on its status as a (relatively) new religion with strange beliefs.

I think this brings up the interesting (hopefully not too trivial) point that there can be good and bad reasons for opposing a candidate based on membership in a group.

There's a big difference in my mind, for instance, between someone I'd label "anti-Semitic" and someone who opposes the treatment of women in orthodox Jewish communities.

Posted by conium | February 15, 2008 1:55 PM

Harry Reid = Mormon. That doesn't seem
to be a problem for the dems.

Posted by j | February 15, 2008 1:56 PM

This all gets back to the GOP that has been built over the last decade or so - it's essentially a sectarian movement; too bad for Mitt that he was from the wrong sect.

I think it was lost for him during his speech about Mormonism where he couldn't really uphold the value of Church/State separation since the Republican base really isn't into that these days.

Or perhaps he just should have done a better job consulting his golden tablets...

Posted by Oklahomo | February 15, 2008 1:58 PM

Mitt could have run away with it if he wasn't such a douche. That's why people didn't like him. Look at how his popularity went down the longer he was around. When all they knew was that he was a Mormon got more votes than after they listened to him weasel and whimper and snicker.

The religious right is always on the verge of fracturing into sectarian war, whether it's over Catholics, Mormons, Jews or what have you. But they are also capable of uniting in their hatred of everybody else, and the could have done that for Mitt, if only he wasn't so oily.

Posted by elenchos | February 15, 2008 2:02 PM

The area I grew up in always seemed to have a relatively high Mormon population (not Utah). As far as I can tell, Mormons are nothing but very nice people who don't watch R-rated movies or drink coffee. They also go on a "mission," which sometimes results in a hilarious little indie movie with lots of humorous catchphrases. And most of them are really hot (but they won't have sex until they are polygamously married). Frankly, they are less creepy and in your face than most Christians I know.

Posted by kebabs | February 15, 2008 2:03 PM

And the Stranger's attacks on Tim Burgess show that the left is perfectly comfortable exploiting religious prejudice against anybody when it suits their purposes, or ignoring religion when convenient.

Posted by elenchos | February 15, 2008 2:04 PM


That's not all. They also believe that Native Americans are a fallen tribe who were cursed with dark skin and killed off their nonfallen, white compatriots. The Book of Latter Day Saints is an unabashed apologia for the colonization of the Americas and the resulting extermination of Native Americans.

Mormons also believe that God loves rich people.

Posted by keshmeshi | February 15, 2008 2:09 PM

Well, when you build your party on Fear and Hate, don't be surprised when it bites you in the butt.

Posted by Will in Seattle | February 15, 2008 2:17 PM

mitt probably would have done better to hold to his liberal positions (if they were actually his). mccain isn't mr religious conservative... those votes were romney's to lose. that said, yeah, people weren't excited about voting for a morman.

Posted by infrequent | February 15, 2008 2:27 PM

OK, so we know the Mormon guys wear magic underwear, but what do transvestite Mormons wear? Do they get magic pantyhose or something? Or just a one-way ticket to the Amazon Rainforest?

Posted by Fifty-Two-Eighty | February 15, 2008 2:35 PM

When, oh when, is a Scientologist going to run so we can see how uncomforable Americans are with them as well?

Posted by inkweary | February 15, 2008 2:52 PM

Fundyz is crazy.

I mean, I'm biased and all, but really, from my perspective, there ain't a hell of a lot functionally different between a Mormon and an evangelical. My guess is it comes down to something petty and stupid like iconoclasm or ostentatiousness. Cause the LDS do have some really fancy ass temples. Then again, so do the evangelical megachurches.

Posted by K | February 15, 2008 3:02 PM


There are thousands of religious communities, all over the world, and all have a quirk or two.

You have to take them where and as you find them , and ALL of them are faith based. Religion is for believers, faith. If that is not you, then shut the fuck up.

And for the rubes and silly minds here, and it seem most of you fit that category/profile. Half the population of the world, billions of people dress with religious convention part of it, be it scarves, under wear, robes, hat or cap --- on and on.

The reason it seems to have caught so much attention is because the posters are so fucking provincial. Go back to the pig farms, rubes.

Posted by Adam | February 15, 2008 6:37 PM

Adam, this conversation is obviously the very last interesting thing left on the internet. If we all went back to the pig farm, you'd have no reason to stay online at all.

Posted by elenchos | February 15, 2008 9:29 PM

I would be less uncomfortable with the Mormon part than I would be with Romney's not very slow switch from (relatively) liberal to in-your-face conservative over a period of, what, a couple of years, and so obviously undertaken in order to gather in the very votes he ended by losing. In Massachusetts he had no trouble at all with quite a few fairly progressive policies -- not that he was a flaming liberal but he wasn't a social regressive, either. Then he went on the national stage and managed to do a 180 in such a short time he made other politicians look like models of consistency. THAT is what frightens me about the conservatives. McCain's in the process of doing the same damn thing; he's even moved to the point where he's not too exercised about torture. Just so he won't lose the fright-wing. Hell with them.

Posted by Calpete | February 15, 2008 9:45 PM

Read No Man Knows My History by Fawn Brody (you won't find it in any library in Utah as the Mormon's check it out and never return it, personal experience talking here) and One Nation Under Gods.
Those two books will tell you everything you need to know about the LDS and what they truly stand for.
None of my Indiana Mormon neighbors are allowed to read these books let alone have them in their homes. I know, I asked them.

Posted by Gindy | February 16, 2008 5:06 AM

Speaking of tolerance, um, did it bother anyone else that Mitt is pro-TORTURE? And wants dozens more Guantanamo Bays in our world? So he won't stop a couple of gay Americans from tying the knot, that makes the torture proponent SO MUCH MORE APPETIZING, NO? Since when have we devolved to Middle Ages, pray tell?

Posted by FC | February 16, 2008 8:27 AM

There's no reason for liberals to 'tolerate' a psycho like Romney.
Would I ever vote for a Mormon? Sure, if the other choice was a Republican.
Not all Mormons are bad, I know one who's gay.

Posted by Ruby | February 16, 2008 9:57 AM

He was Mormon than they could handle.

Posted by dumbpun | February 16, 2008 2:31 PM


so you believe something else- who cares?

religion is like a storeroom with a thousand choices, find one that you like.

I live with several houses near wsith Mormon folks. Thaey are the nicest people one could ant living near by. How does this work - bad church - believes all fine people.

Get a clue Gindy, believe what you want and leave other people to their own lives. You are a bigot. And there has never been a book that EXPOSES the truth of the Jews, Catholics or Muslims? Of course thousands of them.

Religion is faith. Believe in spirits, Gods, the Earth, the Sun, Voodoo - Gindy, grow up. Worry about the quality of your spirit and what you believe.

And what you do with that. Like feed the hungry and help the widow and orphans???? Tell me Mormons don't do that..... the best, actually.

Posted by John | February 17, 2008 3:35 PM

Will we get the polling data by state? Until then, I think we can speculate that some of the religious righties objected to Mr. Romney out of bigotry, but others didn't like his recent liberalism, and his quick switch from it. Just as whatever liberals still exist in the GOP didn't like his flight from his former positions. Well, without the data, it's all just talk!

Posted by tensor | February 17, 2008 3:50 PM

In the Wall Street Journal article by Suzanne Satline that was linked here. My husband Rocky Hulse was interviewed after speaking at Life Point Church in Quincy, IL. Rocky is a 6h generation former Mormon, we live in Nauvoo, IL. He has written a new book: "When Salt Lake City Calls: Is there a conflict between Mormonism and the public trust?

Posted by Helen in Nauvoo, IL | February 17, 2008 8:44 PM

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