Mitt Romney may be the frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination after his razor thin victory in the Iowa caucuses, but a new poll shows that his Mormon faith poses a problem for a large number of American voters.
A national survey by Poll Position found that only 39 percent of those polled said they would be willing to vote for a Mormon to be President of the United States. 36% said they would not vote for a Mormon, while 25% had no opinion or did not choose to answer the question.
There are two Republican presidential candidates of the Mormon faith, Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman. Among Republicans, 48% said they would vote for a Mormon, 29% said they would not and 23% did not offer an opinion.
Democrats were far less likely to vote for a Mormon presidential candidate with 46% saying they would not, 28% said they would and 27% had no opinion.
Romney would have the biggest problem with younger voters, African-Americans and men. Nearly 53% of Americans aged 18-29 would not vote for a Mormon presidential candidate. Almost 44% of blacks and 40.5% of men said they would not vote for a Mormon.
Poll Position’s scientific telephone survey of 1,133 registered voters was conducted December 15 and has a margin of error of 3%.
The survey by Poll Position has results similar to those found in a survey released in November by the Public Religion Research Institute. In that poll, 42% of Americans said a Mormon president would make them uncomfortable. More Democrats (50%) felt that way then Republicans (36%) or independents (38%).
Romney has acknowledged his Mormon faith could be an issue with some voters. But in an interview with USA Today he said “I don’t think it’s going to prevent me” from becoming president.
Updated News: A Mormon scholar says the polls could represent a “deep and abiding strain of anti Mormonism in the general populace.” But Patrick Mason, a professor of Mormon studies at Claremont Graduate University in California, does not believe anti-Mormon prejudice is widespread enough to prevent a Mormon from being elected president.
“I absolutely think that a Mormon could become President of the United States and I think probably will,” said Mason. “The same is true for a Muslim, although it will take longer for a Muslim.”