One doesn’t have to be a secret poll junkie—although it helps—to be absolutely fascinated by the latest Gallup figures on who voters do not wish to see in the Oval Office. Among the more fascinating results, Gallup found that while 22% of respondents would not vote for a Mormon even if he or she was the party’s nominee for President, they’d be more than twice as hostile to an atheist. Resistance to Mormon candidates increases as educational levels decrease.
Gallup’s analysis of its poll shows that Americans’ prejudice against a Mormon President “is exceeded only by their opposition to electing someone who is either gay or lesbian (32%) or an atheist (49%). By contrast, less than half as many, 10%, say they would not vote for a Hispanic, and fewer than 10% would not vote for a nominee who is Jewish, Baptist, Catholic, female, or black.”
Furthermore, “[t]he 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. The last time as many as 22% 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. As noted, opposition to voting for each of these has since tapered off to single digits.
“Still, it is significant that in 1959, the year before John F. Kennedy won election as the nation’s first Catholic president, 25% of Americans — including 22% of Democrats, 33% of Republicans, and 18% of independents — said they would not vote for a Catholic. Public opposition fell to 21% by May 1960 and to 13% by August 1961”.
This analysis notwithstanding to the contrary, I will always wonder just how candid anyone really is when a stranger claiming to be from Gallup, or any other polling organization, answers questions about what groups the respondent is most prejudiced against. Talk, after all, is cheap. Completely candid responses are rare in life (“Do these pants make my ass look fat?”) and may well be impossible to find through a telephone call by one stranger to another.
One last observation on these Gallup findings. How interesting it is to reflect that in 2008 a majority of voters supported a candidate who had spent 20 years in the church of “Reverend” Jeremiah Wright, listening as the hate-filled preacher spewed vitriol at the United States of America and its staunchest ally, Israel, and even exposed his young, impressionable daughters to this toxic maniac—but 49% of Americans find it unacceptable to vote for a candidate who believes in no deity at all.