WASHINGTON — Most of America doesn’t relate to Mitt Romney’s religion, but that may not matter in his race against President Barack Obama.
Those are the findings of a new Pew Research Center poll released Thursday, about a month before Republican Romney is set to become the first Mormon presidential nominee of a major political party.
Misgivings about the Mormon faith are widespread and persistent. Nearly two-thirds of non-Mormons said they see Romney’s faith as very different from their own while just half consider it a Christian faith. Those numbers are little changed since Romney’s first run for the presidency pushed Mormonism to the political forefront in 2007.
Despite those qualms, most voters who know that Romney is a devout Mormon say they are comfortable with his religious beliefs, and few voters reject his candidacy solely because of concerns about his faith.
The poll, conducted jointly by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion and Public Life and its Center for the People and the Press, found the public’s knowledge about the religious beliefs of the two men vying for the presidency remains murky — even as two-thirds say it is important that a president have strong religious beliefs. Nearly three in 10 voters (29 percent) were unaware of or incorrect about the religious backgrounds of both candidates.
The random poll was conducted by telephone June 28-July 9.