Will Mitt Romney’s Mormon faith be a factor when voters go to the polls this November?
A new study released by the Brookings Institution suggests that it will — but not in the way one might expect.
Brookings fellow Matthew M. Chingos and University of Mississippi assistant professor Michael Henderson argue that contrary to conventional wisdom, “information about the LDS church and Mr. Romney’s affiliation with it poses little threat to his electoral prospects, even among evangelical Christians” and that “in fact, messages about Romney’s religion may even boost his support among conservatives.”
The authors point to decades of polling showing that as many as one in four voters say they would have reservations about voting for a Mormon presidential nominee.
But they argue that the results of an online survey that they conducted among 2,084 respondents — 16 percent of whom were white evangelical Christians — show that information about Romney’s religion actually had little effect among white evangelicals, and could actually give Romney something of a boost among conservatives more broadly.
Chingos and Henderson caution that their study is not definitive and was “not based on a nationally representative sample.” And the fact that it was conducted through an online survey as opposed to traditional polling methods suggests that the results should be taken with a large grain of salt.
Still, the study is an interesting counterpoint to the argument that Romney’s religion will be a hindrance and not a help come Election Day.