Will Mitt Romney's membership in the Mormon church be as strong of a determining variable for voters in the 2012 election as Barack Obama's ethnicity was for the voters in the 2008 election? How did president Obama's ethnicity effect the voters in 2008? How will Mitt Romney's faith effect the voters in 2012? Which of these variables, if either,(faith or ethnicity) is a stronger predictor of the way one will vote?
I am actually surprised that Romney’s faith has not been more of an issue in this election. There might be some people who are secretly suspicious of him because he is a Mormon, but I have not heard much of it. People are always more interested in the economy. They’ll vote for whomever they think will get them a job.
Of course, the question whether or not Romney's religious affiliation will cost him votes in the upcoming election does have a historical precedence. Before John F. Kennedy ran for President, the U.S. had never elected a Catholic candidate to the oval office. Many voters voiced concerns that Kennedy's affiliation with the Catholic church might influence his decisions in some way, for example that the Pope might intercede on behalf of church policies, thus creating a conflict of interest. In the end, Kennedy was elected.
In Romney's case, many electors might have reservations about the candidate's religious beliefs, but ultimately the die-hard Christian conservative voters would more than likely vote for Romney over Obama, as the least objectionable choice. The debate over the economy and health care are the true hot button topics for this election and will overshadow Romney's Mormon background.
I do not think Romney's Mormonism will be much of an issue, because his positions on social issues have been along the same lines as the Christian fundamentalists who would be most likely to object to his faith. I think a far bigger factor will be the performance of the economy, and whether people are persuaded that his proposed approach to dealing with unemployment and other problems will be better than that of Obama. Ultimately, the election will come down to voters in a handful of states, just as the last few have.
I don't think Romney's Mormonism is be a major voting issue, because we are now so split along liberal vs. conservative lines. People will vote for a Mormon is they usually vote for republicans. If Obama could be elected as the first African-American president, a Mormon can certainly be elected.
Did anyone ask how a man with name Barrack Hussain Obama could be elected, especially after 9/11? Yes, there were many. Was Mr. Obama, nevertheless, elected? Yes, he was. Now, people are asking if Mr. Romney can be elected when he is a Mormon? Has he not been elected Governor of Massachusetts already (and his father elected to governor of Michigan)?
For many, the media will determine this issue as it has in the past. Others who are independent thinkers will make their decisions based upon much graver issues other than which Christian religious sect it is to which Romney belongs as Post #2 mentions. Hopefully, people are focusing on the very dire issues that concern the survival of American as the country as the republic that was formed in 1776. In a recent survey 41% of the voters are comfortable with Romney's relgious affliliations.
Mitt Romney's faith will certainly affect voters who make a habit of learning about and pondering the religious affiliations of candidates they are considering for office. There is a subset of voters to whom religious affiliation(s) and practices are very important and they will base their voting decisions on these affiliations and practices.
His faith will be one of many factors that influence a different subset of voters. These are voters who base their decisions on a host of issues - and their evaluations of all these singular issues culminate in one decision of whether to vote for the candidate or not. Faith may or may not tilt the balance one way or the other.
For another subset of voters, faith pays no role in their decisions. In conclusion, Mitt Romney's faith will influence the voting decisions of a portion of the voting populace, just as his economic views, foreign policy views, and more will influence the voting decisions of another portion.
If you were to quantify the issues that have actually been brought up regarding Mitt Romney's so-called drawbacks, his religion has actually been one of the least mentioned considering that his opposition has so much more "meat" to draw from such as his total income, properties, tax returns, even the issue with his dog Seamus. This being said, his religion will matter very little to the voters if there is anything more interesting than the Mormons to try to get him for.
As far as Obama's race, people underestimate and overestimate this. Whether one is an Obama voter or not, the fact is that it was Obama who had the overwhelming backup and support of the media and many other powerful groups who greatly influenced the population. How could the media not want to cover a man who, if elected President, would make history in the US? Unfortunately and unfairly, and along the same lines, the media did take ugly jabs at the GOP candidates which pointed to the power the media can exert.
The stronger predictor, in the end, will be precisely whoever and whatever the media decides to back. Once the media takes over the psyche of the community, very little else can influence the people, except the use of their own common sense and attention to facts. This latter is what separates the leaders from the followers.
I do not believe that Romney's faith will make any real difference in the way people vote this fall. The reason for this is that there are not many voters who are likely to both A) dislike Romney because of his faith and B) consider voting for Obama. The people who are most likely to dislike Romney's faith are people who are religious conservatives. Religious conservatives are generally strongly opposed to Obama and will surely vote against him even if they do not particularly want to vote for Romney. Therefore, the effect of Romney's faith is not likely to be very large.