Between attending the RNC meeting, being sick, and busy, I hadn’t really had much time to pay attention to the recently released Hotline/Diaego poll. Blog PI brought it back to my attention with his great discussion of the war issue for McCain in it. I was struck by another set of numbers regarding the acceptance of Mormonism.
The discussion of the acceptance of Mitt Romney’s Mormonism tends to end up with a comparison to Kennedy. I’ve thought that that might not be a valid comparison because it never really asked the question: Who had a problem with Catholicism? The people that opposed Catholics were often Republicans, which was the Protestant party. And the Catholics tended to be strongly Democrat and were a large part of the Democratic base. In other words, for the most part, the people that were scared away by Kennedy were already Republicans. And Kennedy’s religion might have helped drive turnout for an important part of the Democratic base. (Example from Theodore White’s book on the 1960 election: "In New York state, for example, in a recent year, of 62 counties in the state, the Democratic County Committeemen in 57 were Catholics. (Two of the other five were Jewish, 3 were Protestant)") Probably no big deal for Kennedy. In fact, Kennedy’s religion probably helped him win the nomination with the Catholic, machine-Democratic urban areas like Chicago, Cleveland, Boston, New York, Philadelphia, etc.
But that’s not how it works for Mormonism and Republicans. Who has a problem with Mormonism? Republicans. Big time. Check out how people view Mormonism:
48% of Republicans have an unfavorable view of Mormonism. (Evangelical Christians??) Only 38% of Dems and 26% of Independents have an unfavorable view. Also, more Republicans have opinions (I won’t say "informed") on this (only 1/4 do not, versus 1/3 for Dems and almost 1/2 for Independents) Republicans have more negative and more defined views of Mormonism than anyone else. In other words, Romney’s problem is with his own party’s base in the primary. Independents just won’t care so much.
I’ll write more on some other issues in this poll as it applies to the 2008 election.