WASHINGTON (BP) — Americans are uncertain about both Mitt Romney and Barack Obama’s beliefs, but a new Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life shows that the presidential candidates’ religions will have little effect on voters come November.
“Regardless of their comfort level, the overwhelming majority of those who are Republicans or lean Republican say they will vote for Romney, and the overwhelming majority of Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters say they will vote for Obama,” the Pew study said.
The poll found that 60 percent of voters correctly identified Romney as Mormon and that most are not bothered by his beliefs. The research shows that for those who know Romney is Mormon:
— 60 percent are comfortable with his faith.
— 19 percent are uncomfortable.
— 21 percent said it doesn’t matter or have no opinion.
However, Republicans who are bothered by Romney’s faith still said they would vote for him in the upcoming election although with less enthusiasm than those who are at ease with his beliefs.
The study found religion did play some role in the attitude of those polled toward Romney’s beliefs.
“Along religious lines, white evangelical Protestants and black Protestants, on the one hand, and atheists and agnostics on the other, are the most likely to say they are uncomfortable with Romney’s faith,” according to the Pew Forum survey. “Yet unease with Romney’s religion has little impact on voting preferences. Republicans and white evangelicals overwhelmingly back Romney irrespective of their views of his faith, and Democrats and seculars overwhelmingly oppose him regardless of their impression.”
The support for Romney followed a similar pattern for white evangelical voters, with those at ease with his Mormon faith showing more enthusiasm. The gap between people comfortable or uncomfortable with his faith who strongly supported him was 25 percentage points — 41 percent to 16 percent, respectively.
While more than half of Americans can identify Romney’s religion, many are still confused about Obama’s beliefs.
The poll found an increase in Republicans –- from 16 to 30 percent since October 2008 — and Independents — from 11 to 16 percent — who incorrectly said Obama is Muslim. Democrats who considered Obama a Muslim decreased only one percentage point to 8 percent in the same time period.
Whitney Jones is a writer for Baptist Press. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress ) and in your email ( baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).