Obama’s Muslim problem = Romney’s Mormon problem

at 06:30 AM ET, 07/27/2012

President Obama’s “religion” may be just as much of a liability as Mitt Romney’s (actual) Mormon religion.

According to a new poll from the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, more people are concerned about Obama’s religion (19 percent) than about Romney’s (13 percent).

The reason? The unbelievable number of Americans, now numbering 17 percent, who for some reason think the president is a Muslim.

So while there has been a lot of consternation about whether Americans will be hesitant to vote for a Mormon like Romney, misinformation about Obama’s religion may matter just as much come November.

According to the poll, 65 percent of people who say Obama is a Muslim are uncomfortable with him because of it, compared to just 12 percent of those who correctly say he’s a Christian.

In Romney’s case, 19 percent of people who know he’s a Mormon say it makes them uncomfortable.

Make no mistake: Religion matters in American life and American politics. But at least for now, it's turning off mostly voters that were already predisposed against Romney and Obama.

More than one-third of Republicans say they have a problem with Obama’s religion, compared to just 7 percent of Democrats.

On the other side, 16 percent of Democrats have a problem with Romney’s Mormon religion, compared to just 10 percent of Republicans.

In other words, only about one out of 10 likely Romney and Obama supporters have some reservations about their candidate’s religion.

And on Romney’s side, reservations about Mormonism don’t seem to be moving numbers. Four percent of Republicans and Republican leaners who are uncomfortable with his religion say they are voting for Obama, but Romney also gets the votes of 4 percent of Democrats and Democratic leaners who are uncomfortable with his religion.

Both are very normal crossover vote numbers and suggest the issue isn’t very important for even for the limited number who say they are uncomfortable with Mormonism.

The real potential problem, on both sides, come when you look at independents.

Among independents, 18 percent have a problem with Romney’s religion, while 16 percent have a problem with Obama’s.

Included in the 16 percent who are uncomfortable with Obama’s religion are 9 percent of Democratic-leaning indepenents 10 percent of conservative/moderate Democrats. In other words: It’s not just likely Romney voters who think Obama is a Muslim. And if some of would-be Obama voters pick Romney because of it, that might matter.

Our suspicion at this point is that there is a very small portion of possible Romney voters who are swayed to Obama because of his Mormon religion. But they may well be offset by potential Obama voters who think Obama is a Muslim and have an even bigger problem with that.

Romney: Don’t ‘attack success’: In an interview with CNN’s Piers Morgan from London aired Thursday night, Romney said hostility toward wealthy and successful people has hurt the economy.

“There are people who are trying to attack success and are trying to attack our success; that’s not going to be successful,” he said. “When you attack success, you have less of it, and that’s what we’ve seen in our economy over the last few years.”

Obama has argued in recent weeks that people who succeed in business get their thanks to the help of their community — a message the GOP has pounced on.

Morgan, meanwhile, defended Romney’s comments about potential problems at the London Olympics, saying “it’s no secret over here that for the last three weeks the security around the Olympics has been a shambles.”

Romney, meanwhile, attempted some damage control after getting criticized by Prime Minister David Cameron and London Mayor Boris Johnson, effusively praising the host city.

“It’s great. It’s absolutely fabulous. You know, I’d never been to an Olympics before I was given the Olympic job,” he said. “And these games — great weather, enthusiasm on the part of the people here in London. I think you’re going to see terrific games that’ll be a long time in our memories.”

Pro-Romney super PAC up with $1M radio buy: The top super PAC supporting Romney’s presidential campaign is going up with a $1 million radio buy in nine states.

The Restore Our Future ad contrasts Romney, who “created thousands of jobs,” with Obama’s record, including the stimulus program. The latter half of the ad hits Obama’s campaign for negative and misleading ads.

It will run in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia.

Fixbits:

The Obama campaign will run an ad saying economic recovery starts with the middle class during today’s Olympic opening ceremonies.

Another new poll in Hawaii — this one an independent poll for the Hono­lulu Star-Advertiser — shows Rep. Mazie Hirono (D) up big in her Senate primary and the general election.

The super PAC supporting Sarah Steelman in the Missouri GOP Senate primary is up with its first ads, attacking businessman John Brunner as a wealthy guy who failed to pay his taxes and supports some parts of Obamacare.

Democratic former Boston mayor Ray Flynn cuts an ad for Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.).

The Chamber of Commerce begins an ad offensive against former Maine governor Angus King (I) in that state’s Senate race — the first real challenge to King’s clear-frontrunner status.

Two new polls conducted by Rep. David Schweikert (R-Ariz.) and a group supporting him show him leading his primary with Rep. Ben Quayle (R-Ariz.) by double digits.

The Public Notice Research and Education Fund is going up with a $1.2 million ad buy to get Congress to focus on debt reduction.

Must-reads:

Pentagon official says civilian workforce could get layoff notices 4 days before election” — AP

Obama raises millions for 2012 campaign within spitting distance of White House” — Bill Turque, Washington Post

Once a Rebel, McCain Now Walks the Party Line” — Jennifer Steinhauer, New York Times

Rachel Weiner contributed to this report.

 
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