With Mitt Romney leading the GOP presidential race and traditional Evangelical influence appearing to wane, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is playing an increasingly significant role in the American political conversation. On Thursday the Pew Forum on Religion in Public Life unveiled an in-depth look at public perceptions of American Mormons — the first report of its kind ever published by a non-LDS research group. Here is a survey of some its most interesting findings:
- A majority of Mormons (56%) say the U.S. is ready for a Mormon President. It’s a sign that Mormons are beginning to feel accepted in American society, although nearly half say they face discrimination.
- 74% of Mormon voters identify with or lean toward the Republican Party, far more than the 45% of the nation’s registered voters who do the same. This makes Mormons the most conservative group among America’s largest religions — white Evangelicals come in second at 68%. Only 17% of Mormons are Democrats.
- Romney is viewed favorably by 86% of Mormon voters — including 94% of Mormon Republicans and even 62% of Mormon Democrats. Jon Huntsman’s rating is lower at 50%, but it is predictably higher at 70% in Utah, where he was governor.
- Only 25% of Mormon voters view President Obama favorably. That’s significantly lower than the national average of Obama’s 46% approval rating, according to this week’s Gallup poll.
- 52% of Mormons believe that news coverage of their faith is fair, while 38% think it is not.
- Religious tensions will be tested in the South Carolina primary and beyond. Christian or Christ-centered were the top phrases Mormons use to describe their faith, but the No. 1 word the general public uses to describe Mormonism is cult.
Check out the full report here.