Brookings Study: Romney Electability Perhaps Less Impacted by Mormonism

A new Brookings Institute study finds voters may be less disinclined toward Romney’s Mormonism than previously thought. Results find priming respondents about Romney’s religion has little statistical impact on vote choice. These findings should be welcomed as we strive toward a society comprised of individuals not groups.

The claim typically levied against Romney’s electability is often based on a Gallup poll finding 22 percent of the electorate would not vote for a Mormon presidential candidate.

Researchers employed a “treatment and control” type method in which different information about Romney was given to different respondents, and then all respondents were asked if they planned to vote for Romney or Obama in November. This allowed the researchers to measure the impact different information has on vote choice.

Researchers recruited 2,084 survey participants through Amazon.com to fill out a computer survey. Respondents were then randomly assigned to one of four different groups. Respondents were statistically similar across all groups. Researchers then randomly assigned one of the following information pieces to each of the four groups:

A: Mitt Romney is seeking the Republican nomination to run for president against Democrat Barack Obama this fall.

B: Mitt Romney, a Mormon, is seeking the Republican nomination to run for president against Democrat Barack Obama this fall.

C: Mitt Romney, a Mormon, is seeking the Republican nomination to run for president against Democrat Barack Obama this fall. The Mormon Church believes that Jesus Christ is the son of God and the Bible is the word of God.

D: Mitt Romney, a Mormon, is seeking the Republican nomination to run for president against Democrat Barack Obama this fall. In addition to accepting the Bible as the word of God, the Mormon Church also believes that the Book of Mormon is the word of God. The Mormon Church believes the Book of Mormon was written on golden plates by ancient inhabitants of America whom Jesus Christ visited shortly after his resurrection. The Church also believes that the book was later discovered in 1823 when Joseph Smith found it buried in upstate New York.

After reading one of these four information pieces, all respondents were asked if they planned to vote for Obama or Romney in November.

Group A was not “primed” about Romney’s Mormonism. Group B was primed to consider Romney’s religion. Group C primed respondents about Romney’s religion but emphasized the similarities between mainstream Christianity and the LDS faith. Group D was primed with information highlighting differences between Mormonism and mainstream Christianity.

If Mormonism has a significant dampening effect on Romney’s electability, we would expect Group A to be significantly more likely to vote for Romney than Groups B, C, or D. Moreover, we’d expect Group D to be least likely to vote for him. However, the results tell a different story. In fact Romney’s support did not vary significantly across the four groups.

This study is not definitive. The sample was not nationally representative, and one could argue that most of the respondents were aware of Romney’s religion before being primed with different information pieces. Nevertheless, we’d expect some sort of difference given the different kinds of information provided.

These findings should be welcomed news as we strive for a society comprised of individuals not groups. Seeing people in terms of groups is indeed a collectivist concept. Judging Romney on his own merits and policy positions rather than as a member of some monolithic group is a step toward societal progress.

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  • John||

    Come on hasn't the Reason staff always wanted to vote for a member of a religious minority for President?

  • SIV||

    Only if the minority religion is Atheism.

  • John||

    Odd that the staff could of have grown up dreaming of someday voting for a black President but such charity did not extend to any other minorities.

  • BakedPenguin||

    Did you two convert to Islam? Because you both sound like a couple of martyrs.

  • John||

    You miss the point BP. Sitting around waxing poetic about some day voting for Mormon or a Muslim for President is just as full on retard as dreaming of voting for a black man for President.

    How about voting for a decent man for President? Now that is dreaming the noble and impossible dream.

  • Pip||

    "How about voting for a decent man for President?"

    SEXIST!

  • BakedPenguin||

    How about voting for a decent man for President?

    SEXIST!

    Seriously, though - I'll agree that voting for [demographic category] is collectivist nonsense.

  • BakedPenguin||

    PWND.

  • Just Dropping By||

    This isn't too surprising to me. I've been telling people since the 2008 primaries that the Mormon impact is overrated. Notwithstanding its utterly unBiblical beliefs about the nature of Jesus that would have gotten its practitioners executed as heretics for much of Christian history, the Church of Latter Day Saints does participate in the two most central and vital of Christian sacraments, indeed those that Jesus preached about repeatedly and at length in the New Testament -- hating gays and banning abortion -- so logically evangelical Christians would be OK with a Mormon.

  • Aresen||

    Yeah, yeah.

    But most of the population would still not vote for We Who Worship the One True Flying Spaghetti Monster.

    End Anti-Pastafarianism Now!

  • John||

    It is because atheists are so thoughtful and respectful of differing opinions that they are so well liked and admired.

  • Aresen||

    Glad you enjoyed the Westboro Baptist Church sermon this week, John.

    Say hello to reverend Fred.

  • John||

    What you can't take a compliment? Hit a nerve did it?

  • Aresen||

    You can dish it out but you can't take it, John?

    Not every joke about religion is Kultur War.

  • John||

    I take it just fine. I just give it back just as well.

  • ||

    In fact Romney’s support did not vary significantly across the four groups.

    Are these people really voting FOR Romney or AGAINST Obama. There is a difference.

  • Truculent Resistor||

    +1

    2004 proved that

  • ||

    No there isn't.

  • wareagle||

    the folks having the biggest hangup over Romney's religion are the right's religious wing.

  • ||

    E. Mitt Romney, a Mormon, is seeking the Republican nomination to run for president against Democrat Barack Obama this fall. In addition to accepting the Bible as the word of God, the Mormon Church also believes that the Book of Mormon is the word of God. The Mormon Church believes that God, named Elohim, was once a man of flesh and blood and resides on a planet called Kolob where each day is 1,000 years and where the Earth was originally created before being moved here. Or something like that.

  • Rich||

    What?! No "E: ... 'magic underwear.'"?

  • Rich||

    Jinx!

  • Mike M.||

    Yep, fortunately, the evangelical religious right bogeyman isn't anywhere near as powerful as the left and their media allies want us to believe. If they were, Rick Santorum would be the republican party nominee. Instead, he got his ass kicked.

  • John||

    And they are not nearly as narrow minded or fanatical as the media would like us to believe. They will vote for Romney.

  • Just Dropping By||

    The only reason Santorum can be described as getting "his ass kicked" is because Newt was too egomaniacal to drop out after Florida. If Santorum had picked up Newt's voters at a 2-to-1 ratio relative to Romney (quite plausible based on the polling), Santorum would have won several additional states outright and in some of the states that he won anyway, he would have completely locked out Romney from picking up delegates. Romney probably still would have won, but it would have taken until the big, late-voting states like Texas and California, where Romney's financial advantage would have been overwhelming, for Romney to put it away.

  • John||

    But if they were only voting on values issues, they would not have been split between Newt and Santorum.

  • Bardas Phocas||

    Next survey should throw in Obama's gay secret muslim affiliation just for laughs.

    Because really folks, that's what this survey is worth. Note that they "recruited 2,084 survey participants through Amazon.com to fill out a computer survey." [self selection, internet, non-representative]

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    At least he won't be taking orders from the Space Pope.

    Or will he?

  • ||

    "At least he won't be taking orders from the Space Pope."

    He will if the Mormons decide to team up with the Scientologists.

  • ||

    Did anyone else read that lede as: "...less impacted by Moronism?"

    SLD: I don't care if Flopney is a member of the LDS church. I hate his policies in particular with a steel bending, lead melting, glowing passion, the smarmy dishonest evasive mother fucker.

  • Mike M.||

    I sort of suspect that I probably hate his policies as well, but the problem is I have almost no idea whatsoever what the man truly believes about anything.

  • Pip||

    Can you imagine a Whitehouse without coffee, tea or booze?

  • Ken Shultz||

    As odd as some Mormon beliefs and practices seem to me, none of them are as far out there as the idea that our lives would be better if the government were bigger.

    You believe the lost tribes of Israel came to the Americas way back when?

    Okay.

    You believe that...um...sacramental garments are full of holy power?

    Okay.

    You believe that our lives would be better if only the government did more?

    No way that's okay!

    I'm telling y'all, Obama is the kook. Until we get more people to see that Obama's ideas are way kookier than anything in Mormonism, our job isn't done.

  • Brian from Texas||

    Romney can worship a statue of Elvis in his mother's basement and Obama can be a mosque-going Muslim for all I care. A candidate's religion (or lack of) is the farthest thing from my mind when it comes to why I'll vote for or against them.

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