Mitt Romney has won the nomination of the party which thrives on bigotry and hatred. Romney’s religion did not prevent him from buying the Republican nomination, largely because he had no credible opponents. That does not mean that Republican voters will accept him. Reuters reports that southern white voters are troubled by Romney’s religion:
At Liberty’s May commencement, Romney, a Mormon, sought to stake out common ground with fundamentalist Christians. Without directly mentioning the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, as the Mormon church is formally known, he told the crowd of 34,000: “People of different faiths, like yours and mine … can meet in service, in shared moral convictions about our nation stemming from a common worldview.”
According to Reuters/Ipsos polling data, however, 35 percent of voters overall, and the same proportion of lower- and middle-income white Bible Belt voters, say they would be less likely to vote for a candidate who is Mormon.
Many evangelicals who would normally vote Republican say they view Mormonism as a cult.
Several of those interviewed in Lynchburg were devotees of the TV series “Big Love” and “Sister Wives,” about polygamous Mormon families. They were unaware that the Mormon Church long ago renounced polygamy.
“Mormons don’t believe like we believe,” said Dianna McCullough, a retired factory worker, as she tossed salad in a Tree of Life Ministries soup kitchen. “Like the wives — Romney’s probably got more than one.”
Still, she is undecided in the election. “The gay marriage thing hurts Obama,” she said. “It’s Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.”
Many of these people also believe Obama is a Muslim and will not vote for him, but they are not enthusiastic about Romney and many might remain home on election day.
There is additional bad news for Romney–they don’t like rich people either:
Sheryl Harris, a voluble 52-year-old with a Virginia drawl, voted twice for George W. Bush. Raised Baptist, she is convinced — despite all evidence to the contrary — that President Barack Obama, a practicing Christian, is Muslim.
So in this year’s presidential election, will she support Mitt Romney? Not a chance.
“Romney’s going to help the upper class,” said Harris, who earns $28,000 a year as activities director of a Lynchburg senior center. “He doesn’t know everyday people, except maybe the person who cleans his house.”
She’ll vote for Obama, she said: “At least he wasn’t brought up filthy rich.”
White lower- and middle-income voters such as Harris are wild cards in this vituperative presidential campaign. With only a sliver of the electorate in play nationwide, they could be a deciding factor in two southern swing states, Virginia and North Carolina.
Reuters/Ipsos polling data compiled over the past several months shows that, across the Bible Belt, 38 percent of these voters said they would be less likely to vote for a candidate who is “very wealthy” than one who isn’t. This is well above the 20 percent who said they would be less likely to vote for an African-American.
In Lynchburg, many haven’t forgotten Romney’s casual offer to bet Texas Governor Rick Perry $10,000 or his mention of his wife’s “couple of Cadillacs.” Virginia airwaves are saturated with Democratic ads hammering Romney’s Cayman Islands investments and his refusal to release more than two years of tax returns.
At the Democratic convention last week, Obama mocked the GOP’s “tax breaks for millionaires” as “the same prescription they’ve had for the last 30 years.”
Recent polls show that Obama is leading in Virginia while Romney leads in North Carolina. If Obama’s recent momentum holds, as opposed to being a post-convention bounce, it is possible that he could win both states as he did in 2008. It is difficult to see Romney winning enough electoral votes to win the election if he loses both of these states, while Obama leads in enough states to win without either.