November 4, 2008
What's Up, Mormons?
Here are a few last findings from Harris and Pew, the former having to do with registered voters and the latter with likely ones. The polls are pretty close overall, Obama 53-44 (Harris) and 52-46 (Pew). White Catholics diverge radically: McCain 57-40 (Harris), Obama 47-45 (Pew). Harris has white evangelicals surprisingly close (for them): McCain 61-34; Pew has them at a more expected 68-23. Harris has Jews backing Obama 76-24 (nothing from Pew).
If there's anything really noteworthy here as we wrap up our pre-election poll-reading, it's what Harris reports on Mormons, who tend to come in for precious little attention, given their staunch Republicanism and demographic concentration in states (Idaho, Utah) where it would take a partisan sea change to make a difference in a presidential election. Anyway, Harris finds Mormons backing McCain 60-37. That seems like a pretty healthy plurality until you realize that 81 percent of Mormons voted for George W. Bush.
What's up with that? Well, at a session on Mitt Romney's presidential campaign at the American Academy of Religion, it emerged from Mormon attendees that there was a good deal of unhappiness among Mormons with the Republican Party and how Romney was treated by its evangelical base. The anecdotal evidence cited suggests that not a few Mormons have decided not to vote for the GOP nominee, and may even pull the Democratic lever.
Could such a decision make a difference? Well, both Nevada and Arizona are pretty close, and Mormons constitute six and five percent of their populations respectively. A shift of 40 points among Mormons would equal 2-3 percent of the vote in those states--which could well turn out to be the difference.
(Originally posted at Mark Silk's Spiritual Politics.)