Is the “Mormon Factor” Still Important?

I’m in trial this week, so blogging time is limited.  While my time constraints continue, we’ll keep running high-quality guest posts like the following.  This one was submitted by reader James Masters.  Send your guest post to [email protected]

It’s time to rethink the impact of “The Mormon Factor” when considering Mitt Romney’s presidential aspirations.  CNN let slip a small news story last Thursday regarding a recent poll from Opinion Research Corporation.  The poll indicated that 80% of individuals would not let Mormonism be a negative factor in deciding on a candidate.  Only 19% of those polled indicated that they would be “less likely” to vote for a Mormon.  The poll’s margin of error is +/- 3%.  Compare this statistic with the following historical polls:

o     In February 2007, a Pew Research Center poll indicated that 66% of individuals would be willing to support a Mormon candidate compared to 30% who would be “less likely” to vote for a Mormon candidate. 

o     In early September 2007, a Pew Research Center poll indicated that 71% of individuals would be willing to support a Mormon candidate compared to 25% who would be “less likely” to vote for a Mormon candidate.

o     In late September 2007, a Pew Research Center poll  indicated that 75% of individuals would be willing to support a Mormon candidate compared to 24% who would be “less likely” to vote for a Mormon candidate. 

The trend is very clear: “The Mormon Factor” is becoming less and less significant as time progresses leading up to the 2008 Presidential Election.  Evidence of this trend can also be seen in the form of recent endorsements or otherwise favorable statements from prominent Evangelical Christians: Mark DeMoss, Dr. Bob Jones III, Dr. Richard Land, Tony Perkins, Dr. Don Wilton, et al.  These statements will no doubt be very effective in highlighting the relevant common values as opposed to the irrelevant theological differences between Mormons and Evangelicals. 

The recent polling data also begs the question of whether mainstream media has ever written a single article on “The Evangelical Factor”.  Data from the latest September 2007 Pew Research Center poll that indicated that 79% of individuals would not let Evangelical Christianity be a negative factor in deciding a candidate while (gasp) 16% of individuals would be less likely to vote for an Evangelical Christian.  So where does that put “The Mormon Factor”?  Currently about 3% more negative than “The Evangelical Factor”.

Given the polling data along with recent endorsements from Evangelical Christians, it would behoove the mainstream media to rethink how important “The Mormon Factor” really is.