Romney’s Mormonism May Have Hurt Him With Republicans

I was in the American National Election Studies (ANES) 2012 dataset today for some research (stay tuned) on race and the Republican Party. While I was in the dataset, I found a variable I hadn’t seen before, which asks respondents to write down if there is anything they dislike about the two Presidential candidates. It’s an open-ended question, so respondents can write anything they want. I was only examining respondents who said they were Republican or leaned Republican, and I started noticing a pattern — one of the most frequently disliked things about Romney was his Mormonism. Here’s a screenshot.

ANES 2012

Indeed, a CTRL+F search turns up 31 responses for “Mormon” and 11 for “Morman” (for 42 in total).That’s a whopping 7% of the 569 responses. On the other hand, “women” turns up 23 results and “woman” turns up 6. “Gay” turns up 14 results, “rich” appears 28 times, “flip” appears 9 times and “taxes” shows up 63 times(many of these are duplicated, in the same response).

Other questions add more evidence for this: 42% of Republican respondents don’t consider Mormonism to be a Christian religion. Republican respondents were also less likely to say that the word “patriotic” describes Mormons “extremely well” or “very well.”

ANES 2012

ANES also includes a “feeling thermometer” battery, which asks respondents to rate a group from 1 to 100. I took the mean scores for Republicans, and as you can see below, Mormons rate relatively low (57), below Christian fundamentalists (58), Catholics (65) and “Christians” (78). They fare better than liberals (32), Atheists (33), Muslims (38) and Gays and Lesbians (43).

It could be that Romney’s Mormonism led Republican voters to stay home, or that it lengthened the primary. It also may have had no effect at all. But I found the responses interesting.

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