D.C. Notebook: Opposition to LDS in White House crosses party lines

Published July 9, 2006 1:19 am
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Last week's Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll, which reported that 37 percent of Americans surveyed would not vote for a Mormon for president, has created a flurry of activity in the blogosphere.

Some have said that the Times-Bloomberg numbers probably understate Americans' true sentiments. Others have tried to dismiss the opposition as just liberal Democrats who are at odds with the Mormon views on abortion and gay rights.

The latter is an interesting argument. But digging deeper into the numbers provided by the Los Angeles Times and Bloomberg shows that the anti-Mormon sentiment is not merely confined to Democrats.

Granted, 42 percent of Democrats said they wouldn't vote for a Mormon, but so did 34 percent of Republicans and a third of Independents. Feelings are stronger at the more extreme wings of the party. Half of self-described liberal Democrats wouldn't back a Mormon, but neither would 35 percent of conservative Republicans.

The resistance was more pronounced among minorities (51 percent) and spread fairly evenly across age groups and genders. College grads and upper incomes were slightly more willing to vote for President Mormon.

Geographically, the strongest opposition was in the Midwest, not the South. Forty percent of those in the Midwest would not vote for an LDS candidate, compared with 38 percent in the South. There was somewhat surprising opposition in the West, considering a comparably larger Mormon population, with 35 percent opposing a Mormon candidate, and 32 percent opposition in the East.

The national poll consisted of 1,321 interviews and had a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

So what does it all mean? Well, the most immediate impact obviously could be felt by Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who has been laying the groundwork for a presidential campaign. The poll would indicate that he not only has his work cut out nationally, but also among Republican voters.

No question, there remains an elephant in the room when Romney speaks, and it's not just the GOP mascot.

Wiki-vandals: It's well-known that many techies aren't fans of Sen. Orrin Hatch since his campaign against illegal music downloading and his infamous suggestion that there should be a way to blow up computers of those who steal music via the Internet. And it appears Hatch is still the target of one foe.

An Internet user from San Antonio changed Hatch's Wikipedia profile (which anyone with a Web connection can edit) to say that what really matters to Hatch is "this funny place called Ripley's Believe It Or Not Museum."

"He relates to the poor unfortunates found therein, and he gives them money," the vandal wrote. "Sometimes they attack with their fiendish tantrums, and he then joins them."

Whatever that means.

The one that has us still scratching our heads: "Funny enough, he had an extra appendage once, had it surgically removed, and yet it haunts him. Please help him find it again so that we may stop this insanity."

The profile has been reverted to normal, but the appendage is still apparently missing.

Ranking Huntsman: The conservative weekly newspaper Human Events recently ranked the top 10 most conservative governors and Utah's Jon Huntsman Jr. took fourth place.

"After less than two years in office, this philanthropist and former Reagan and Bush Administration official has denounced the 'No Child Left Behind' federal education scheme, signed a measure to void illegal immigrants' driver's licenses and replace them with a special 'driving privilege' card, and supports school vouchers and phasing out the state sales tax on food," the paper said.


Gehrke and Burr report from Washington for The Tribune. Read more political tidbits at the Tribune's Out of Context blog: http://blogs.sltrib.com/utahpolitics.

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