In the new Gallup poll, only 10% of Republicans said they would not vote for a GOP candidate who happened to be a Mormon. That’s way down from 30% in early 2007, when Romney was testing the waters for his first presidential campaign, and significantly lower than the 18% recorded in late 2007.
Meanwhile, Democrats’ aversion to members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has kicked up a notch: The poll found that 24% said they would not vote for a Democratic candidate for president who happened to be a Mormon. That’s about equal to the 23% who answered that way in early 2007, but more than the 18% who said no in late 2007.
It’s hard to avoid seeing a straightforward “Romney effect” here. Now that Republican voters know that their nominee is going to be a Mormon, many of those who said they’d never vote for one are eating their words. Now that Democratic voters see a Mormon on the GOP ticket, they’re discovering all kinds of things about the LDS Church to dislike. It’s got nothing to do with doctrine; voters are adjusting their opinions on religion to fit their political preferences.
This is essentially what political science research would predict. For the most part, partisanship trumps religious discomfort.
The interesting thing will be to see if this is a temporary effect. How will these numbers look 2-3 years from now, whether Romney is president or not?