Politics, Society and Morality
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Ideology and Partisanship
Perceptions of Parties’ Friendliness Toward Mormonism
Views of Political Figures
Size of Government
Other Moral Issues
are more conservative than the general public on a variety of political, social
and moral issues. Compared with the population as a whole, Mormons are more
Republican in their party affiliation and conservative in their political
ideology. They have a less favorable view of Barack Obama than non-Mormons, and
they hold more conservative views than the general public on issues such as the
size of government, abortion and homosexuality. On questions of morality,
Mormons are more likely than others to say that extramarital sex and drinking
alcohol are morally wrong.
of Mormons (66%) call themselves conservative, about one-in-five (22%) say they
are moderate and only about one-in-ten (8%) say they are liberal. The political
ideology of Mormons closely resembles that of white evangelical Protestants
(61% conservative, 27% moderate and 9% liberal), and both groups are far more
conservative than other major religious groups and the public overall.
majorities across a variety of Mormon subgroups describe themselves as
conservative, the survey finds that Mormon men (73%) are more conservative than
Mormon women (59%). Mormons in the West express higher levels of conservatism
than those living outside the West (69% vs. 58%). And Mormons who exhibit the
highest levels of religious commitment are substantially more conservative than
those with lower levels of religious commitment (74% vs. 47%).
equal numbers of Mormons under age 50 and those age 50 and older describe
themselves as politically conservative (68% and 62%, respectively). Among the
general population, those under 50 are somewhat less conservative than those
age 50 and older (33% vs. 41%).
three-in-four Mormon registered voters (74%) either identify as Republican
(52%) or lean toward the Republican Party (22%). Far fewer (17%) identify with
or lean toward the Democratic Party. By comparison, the general public is much
more evenly split between the two parties, with 45% of all registered voters
favoring the GOP and 48% favoring the Democratic Party in Pew Research Center
polls conducted September-November 2011. White evangelical Protestants (68% of
whom identify with or lean toward the GOP) are the only other large religious
group that rivals Mormons’ level of support for the Republican Party; white
mainline Protestants, black Protestants, Catholics and the religiously
unaffiliated are all far less Republican than are Mormons.
support for the Republican Party is seen across a variety of Mormon subgroups,
but some groups are more unified than others in their support of the GOP.
Mormon women, for instance, are less Republican (67%) and more Democratic (22%)
than Mormon men (81% Republican vs. 12% Democratic). Mormons who live in the
West are somewhat more Republican (77%) than Mormons from other regions of the
country (66%). Mormons under the age of 50 are more strongly Republican (80%)
than Mormons over 50 (68%). (By contrast, there is little difference in the
partisanship of those under 50 and those age 50 and older in the general
population.) And Mormons who exhibit the highest levels of religious commitment
express more support for the GOP (78%) than Mormons with lower levels of
religious commitment (63%).
one-third (36%) of Mormon registered voters say they agree with the Tea Party
movement, while 17% say they disagree and 47% express no opinion. Support for
the Tea Party is higher among Mormons than among the public as a whole, which
is largely attributable to Mormons’ high level of Republicanism. Mormon
Republicans closely resemble Republicans as a whole in their views about the
Tea Party, and Mormon Democrats closely resemble all Democrats in their
attitudes about the movement. Mormons residing in the West express similar
views about the Tea Party as Mormons residing outside the West.
Perceptions of Parties’
Friendliness Toward Mormonism
four-in-ten Mormons (39%) say the Republican Party is friendly toward Mormonism
and a similar number say the GOP is neutral toward Mormonism (41%). Far fewer
(10%) say the Republican Party is unfriendly toward Mormonism. Compared with
the GOP, the Democratic Party is seen as less friendly (17%) and more
unfriendly (30%) toward Mormonism.
Mormon Republicans are much more likely than Mormon Democrats to say the GOP is
friendly toward Mormons. And Mormon Democrats are much more likely than
Republicans to say that the Democratic Party is friendly toward Mormonism. But
while three times as many Mormon Republicans say the GOP is friendly toward
Mormons as say this about the Democratic Party (45% vs. 14%), Mormon Democrats
are equally likely to view the GOP and the Democratic Party as friendly toward
Mormons (30% and 33%, respectively).
Views of Political
survey, which was conducted from late October through mid-November 2011, asked
respondents about their views of eight prominent political leaders, including
five Republicans and three Democrats. Among the Republicans asked about,
Mormons express overwhelmingly positive views of Mitt Romney, with 86% of
registered voters saying they have a favorable view of Romney compared with
only 10% who have an unfavorable view. Romney is viewed most favorably by
Mormon Republicans (94%), but he also is seen in a positive light by Mormon
Democrats (62% favorable). In fact, Mormon Democrats view Romney as favorably
as do Republicans in the general population (56% favorable).
Utah Governor Jon Huntsman Jr. – another candidate for the GOP presidential
nomination who is Mormon – is viewed favorably by half of Mormon registered
voters (50%), while 24% view him unfavorably and 26% are unable to rate
Huntsman or offer no opinion. Huntsman’s favorability ratings are higher among
Mormons in the West (55%) than among those in other parts of the country (40%),
where he is less familiar to Mormons (36% of those living outside the West are
unable to rate Huntsman, compared with 22% of those residing in the West).
Among Mormons residing in Utah, 70% express a favorable view of Huntsman and
only 4% are unable to give him a rating.
Palin is rated favorably by half of Mormon voters, and Herman Cain – who was
Romney’s main challenger for front-runner status at the time the survey was
conducted – is rated favorably by 43% of Mormons. Of the Republicans asked
about, Rick Perry received the most negative ratings from Mormons, with half
(51%) viewing him unfavorably compared with 28% who view him favorably.
Barack Obama is viewed favorably by 25% of Mormon registered voters, while 72% say
they have an unfavorable view of the president. Obama’s relatively low rating
among Mormons (his favorability rating was 50% among the general public at the
time the survey of Mormons was conducted) largely reflects the high rates of
Republicanism among the Mormon population. Among Mormon Democrats, 78% give
Obama a favorable rating, as do 84% of Democrats in the general population.
Mormons have a favorable view of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (42%) than
of Barack Obama. Mormon women are more favorably disposed toward Clinton than
are Mormon men (48% favorable among women vs. 35% among men). Half of Mormon
registered voters (51%) express an unfavorable view of Nevada Democrat Harry
Reid, a Mormon who is the majority leader of the U.S. Senate; 22% of Mormons
rate Reid favorably, while 27% have no opinion.
Size of Government
of Mormons say they would prefer a smaller government providing fewer services
(75%) over a bigger government that provides more services (20%). By
comparison, opinions among the general public are more closely divided. About
half of the general public (48%) supports a smaller government, while 41% want
a bigger government. Mormon views on this issue closely match those of white
men are more supportive of a smaller government than Mormon women (83% vs.
66%). And Mormons with the highest level of religious commitment are more
inclined toward small government than those with lower levels of religious
commitment (80% vs. 64%).
graduates are most supportive of limited government (86%), followed by those
with some college (76%) and then by those with a high school education or less
(64%). There are no differences on this question among Mormons from different
are divided on the question of whether immigrants strengthen the U.S. because
of their hard work and talents (45%) or burden the country by taking American
jobs, housing and health care (41%). On this issue, the views of Mormons line
up very closely with the views of the general public (45% strengthen, 44%
burden). Mormons are much more likely than evangelical Protestants to say that
immigrants strengthen rather than burden the United States (45% vs. 27% among
with Mormons over 50, younger Mormons are more likely to view immigrants as an
asset to the country (49% vs. 39%). Mormon Republicans are evenly divided on
this question (42% strengthen, 44% burden), but Mormon Democrats who say
immigrants strengthen the country clearly outnumber those who say immigrants
are a burden (59% vs. 36%). Roughly half of Mormons with the highest levels of
religious commitment say immigrants strengthen the country (48%), compared with
38% among Mormons with lower levels of religious commitment.
Roughly two-thirds of Mormons (65%) say that
homosexuality should be discouraged by society, while less than half as many
(26%) say that homosexuality should be accepted by society. Mormon attitudes
toward homosexuality closely resemble the views expressed by white evangelical
Protestants, and are substantially more conservative than the views expressed
by other large religious groups and the public as a whole.
with high levels of religious commitment express the greatest opposition toward
homosexuality, with 77% saying it should be discouraged and 15% saying it
should be accepted by society. Among those in the survey with lower levels of
religious commitment, opinion leans in the other direction (51% say it should
be accepted, 39% say it should be discouraged). A similar division exists
between Mormon Republicans and Democrats, with a large majority of Republicans
saying homosexuality should be discouraged (74%) and the balance of opinion
among Democrats in the survey leaning toward acceptance (52%).
with a high school education or less are more accepting of homosexuality (34%)
than are those with some college (22%) and those with college degrees (21%).
There is no clear pattern in views of homosexuality by age.
Other Moral Issues
take conservative positions on the morality of various behaviors, including
having sex outside of marriage (which 79% say is morally wrong), having an
abortion (74% morally wrong) and drinking alcohol (54% morally wrong). The view
that these activities are morally wrong is far more common among Mormons than
among the general public.
similar number of Mormons and white evangelical Protestants say that having an
abortion is morally wrong (74% among each group). Mormons are significantly
more likely than evangelicals to say that sex outside of marriage is wrong (79%
vs. 61%) and that drinking alcohol is morally wrong (54% vs. 22%). Nearly half
of Mormons (46%) say that divorce is not a moral issue, while 25% say it is
morally wrong and 16% say it is morally acceptable. The 25% of Mormons who say
divorce is morally wrong is similar to the 29% seen among the general
population. White evangelicals are much more likely than Mormons to say that
divorce is morally wrong (45% vs. 25%).
nine-in-ten Mormons (86%) say that polygamy is morally wrong. Roughly
one-in-ten (11%) say that polygamy is not a moral issue and 2% say that
polygamy is morally acceptable.
Mormon women than men say that drinking alcohol is morally wrong (59% vs. 48%).
Men, on the other hand, see divorce as more morally problematic than women do (30%
vs. 20%). Differences between the sexes are negligible on other moral issues.
with the highest levels of religious commitment consistently express more
morally stringent views than those with lower levels of commitment. This
includes the question of polygamy, which is seen as morally wrong by 88% of
those with high religious commitment and 79% of those with lower levels of
commitment. On most issues, Republicans are more strict than Democrats. The
exception is polygamy, which is viewed as morally problematic by equally large
majorities of both groups (86% of Republicans, 87% of Democrats).
with Mormon college graduates, those with a high school education or less are
more likely to say that divorce is morally wrong (30% vs. 20%). A similar
pattern is seen in attitudes about polygamy, which is viewed as morally wrong by
90% of Mormons with a high school education or less compared with 81% of
college graduates. One-in-six college graduates (16%) says that polygamy is not
a moral issue, though very few say it is morally acceptable (1%). On the
question of extramarital sex, however, Mormons with a high school education or
less are more permissive than college graduates (66% morally wrong vs. 89%
among college graduates).
Photo Credit: © Walter Bibikow/JAI/Corbis