Poll: Evangelicals skeptical about Mormonism, will back Romney over Obama

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But if Romney survives the nominating process, there is little evidence that evangelicals would abandon him in a general election. In fact, 91 percent of white, evangelical Republican Protestants say they would back Romney in a general election — a higher percentage than mainline Republicans, only 84 percent of whom say they would back the former governor, and matching the number of Republican Catholics who would vote Romney. Of those voters, 79 percent say they would strongly support Romney — a higher percentage than mainline Protestants or Catholics.

Of Republicans who don't view Mormonism as a Christian faith, 89 percent say they would back Romney — 73 percent say they would strongly support the ex-governor. Conversely, Republican voters who don't believe Mormonism is a Christian religion are very likely to have a sour view of the president — 92 percent said they had an unfavorable impression, and 58 said that their view was very unfavorable.

In other words, those most likely to have doubts about Romney's faith are the same people who are most strongly opposed to Obama, suggesting that his Mormon beliefs should do little to erode his natural political base.

That news should be heartening to Romney supporters, who have worried that lukewarm support in the Republican primary — the former governor has been unable to pull away from the field, despite a series of gaffes from a rotating cast of top opponents — would translate into weaker support in the general election were Romney to win the nomination. In fact, the white, evangelical Protestants at the heart of the Republican party seem most concerned with defeating Obama.