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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.)

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There have been some strong feelings among some Mormons regarding the treatment of Romney.

There is a really good book (available at Amazon.com, etc.) that goes into detail about the anti-Mormon bigotry during Romney's run for president. The book is titled, "A Different God? Mitt Romney, the Religiour Right and the Mormon Question."

As a Mormon, I found a considerable amount of distaste for the way many evangelicals dumped on Mormonism especially with Governor Huckabee. I find it difficult to unify with people who are trying to constantly tell me how terrible I am because of my religious perspectives. Here I thought Christ taught us to "love one another" and "be one, and if ye are not one, ye are not mine."

While Mormons have a tendency to grow in many areas of the world with averages of around 450,000 converts per year, please understand that not every Mormon is a Republican. Most Mormons don't live in the United States. Most convert Mormons maintain their original political philosophy.

But as your article states, most Mormons in the United States have a great many children. I personally have six. One of my grandparents had 88 grandchildren with great-grandparents having as many as 96 grandchildren without polygamy. While this is not always the average among Mormons, we still have more than the national average.

While I still voted for McCain this year, I find it hard to unite with those of my brothers and sisters who call themselves Christian: Baptist, Methodist, Church of Christ, etc. when a question of religion has to be an issue for the Presidency of the United States.