Byron York is one of the leading pundits on the right. Anything he writes is a must read, especially when the headline is “Anti-Mormon bias persists, notably among Democrats.“ His piece opens with a most startling result from the recent polling – a result that we shamefully missed:
Ever since Mitt Romney’s unsuccessful run for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination, there’s been much discussion of whether GOP voters would accept a Mormon candidate. Would evangelical conservatives, in particular, look past the former Massachusetts governor’s faith to vote for him? The underlying assumption was that the more conservative the views, the more intolerant the voter.
Now, it turns out a better question might be whether Democratic voters would accept a Mormon candidate. In a survey that cuts against the media stereotype, a new Gallup Poll has found that more Democrats than Republicans say they would not vote for a Mormon for president. Twenty-seven percent of Democrats say they wouldn’t vote for a Mormon, while 18 percent of Republicans say the same. For independents, the figure is 19 percent.
He mines the historical data for an even more startling find:
Perhaps the most striking news in the Gallup survey is the durability of anti-Mormon bias. For more than 40 years, Gallup has asked a simple question: “If your party nominated a generally well-qualified person who happened to be a Mormon, would you vote for that person?” In the most recent survey, 76 percent of those polled said they would vote for the Mormon candidate, while 22 percent said they would not.
In 1967, when Gallup first asked the question, 75 percent said they would vote for a Mormon, while 17 percent said they wouldn’t. The results were practically the same as they are today.
“The stability in U.S. bias against voting for a Mormon presidential candidate contrasts markedly with steep declines in similar views toward several other groups over the past half-century, including blacks, women, Catholics, and Jews,” writes Gallup. “The last time as many as 22 percent of Americans said they would not vote for any of these groups (the same level opposed to voting for a Mormon today) was 1959 for Catholics, 1961 for Jews, 1971 for blacks, and 1975 for women. Opposition to voting for each of these has since tapered off to single digits.”
But not for Mormons.
There is much that could be concluded from such data. For example, the durability data indicates that the LDS community has remained too insular. The only way to move data like that is to “get out among them.” Headline stuff like the Osmonds or Romney won’t shift such data much, it takes people meeting people – Mormons hanging out with non-Mormons and vice-versa.
But the meat is the fact that Democrat bias is MUCH stronger than Republican. It reflects s couple of things. For one it reflects the move of the most conservative, the real nutters, away from the Republican party. But it also reflects the Democrat fear of religion generally as I am sure Mormons are viewed as “uber-religious.” These conclusions are strongly verified by the press coverage and sources of that coverage that we have seen so far this campaign. This raises fascinating questions about campaign strategy and messaging.
But York doesn’t go there – his conclusion is milksop:
There will be a lot more conversation if Romney or Huntsman becomes the GOP nominee. And perhaps there will be a serious discussion of the acceptance question — on both sides of the party divide.
There will be no serious discussion, for such serious discussion does not lay at the root of the disparity or the Democrats obvious bias. Don’t get me wrong, there will be discussion aplenty, but not serious discussion. As we are already seeing the willing allies of the Dems, the MSM, are attempting to use faith, and their own bias, as a wedge to once again divide Republicans and win the election.
The real questions to flow from this data is are we dumb enough to allow their bias’ to influence our decisions? If we do, we harm ourselves. Make no mistake, the Democrat bias is based in a distaste, if not hatred, for religion generally and to allow ourselves to fall victim to their bias is to participate in our own political demise.
Further, this data is political weapon. Each charge of bias throw at us can be answered with “Where’s the data?” And when we pull this data out, low and behold – who’s biased?
York’s deep review of this data is most informative to the campaign ahead. It will likely play out like we expected the last one to – with the left hammering religion in reflection of their own fears and bigotry. We would do well to remember it is a political not a religious battle we fight, and to respond accordingly.