Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The "Mormon Effect"


The Bradley effect "is a theory proposed to explain observed discrepancies between voter opinion polls and election outcomes in some United States government elections where a white candidate and a non-white candidate run against each other."

On a possibly related note, Republican voter turnout for the 2012 presidential election was substantially lower than 2008 and 2004.  Given the widespread perception, at least in conservative circles, of the overwhelming significance of the election in terms of the future of the country, many expected (as I did) a record-breaking turnout of the Republican electorate.

But it was not so.

Romney received 2.5 million fewer votes than did McCain in 2008.  This failure of Republicans to turn out in support of their candidate is the reason Barack Hussein Obama will now serve a second term as President of the United States of America -- a prospect that fills me and many others with an unprecedented sense of fear for the future of my country.

As I pondered this seemingly inexplicable statistic emerging from the piles of election polling data, I couldn't help but recall another shocking poll result from this past summer: Gallup poll indicates 18 percent of registered voters surveyed would not vote for a Mormon presidential candidate. 

I understand that there are many factors to which we could attribute this significantly lower turnout.  For example, I'm certain that the internecine beating to which Romney was subjected in the Republican primaries produced a persistent negative opinion of him that likely resulted in prejudice (and subsequent voter apathy) that could not be overcome, no matter how well he performed in the subsequent general election campaign.

We live in an era where racism is universally condemned, and tolerance is a virtue more highly regarded than chastity.  And yet one particular species of religious bigotry is so pervasive and acceptable that it is awarded the highest honors on Broadway, is a staple of the country's most popular comedians and talk show hosts, and is frequently preached from the pulpits of churches nationwide.  Is it any wonder nearly 1 out of 5 Americans surveyed would not vote for a Mormon for president?

Although I am confident that Romney's candidacy has served to eliminate some of it -- perhaps permanently -- I strongly suspect that this bias factored into the results of the recent presidential election.  I will be surprised if no one makes mention of this in the coming days and weeks as the political punditocracy performs a post-mortem of the 2012 election data.  If and when they do, I propose that the phenomenon receive its own Wikipedia entry: The Mormon Effect.



2 comments:

  1. Assuming that the "Mormon Effect" you are talking about here is based on a significant percent of Americans who just would not ever vote for a Mormon for President, might there not be a corollary: That 85% of USA Mormons voted for Romney. Is it wise to vote for someone only because he is a brother in the faith? Does bloc voting (in Utah for example) gain anything for voters? Or do the swing-states get all the attention and goodies?

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    1. The only element of the election that could serve as a corollary to the inclination of Mormons to vote for Romney merely on the basis of his religion is the fact that 97% of blacks voted for Obama merely on the basis of his skin color. I haven't seen any exit poll statistics that could quantify the percentage of Mormons who voted for Romney, but the Utah election results suggest that Mormons voted for Romney at a significantly lower rate than 97%. More likely in the neighborhood of 75%.

      Even so, your attempted connection needs to be viewed in the face of these numbers: there are about 2 million Mormon voters in the United States. 18% of the total voters in the 2008 election would calculate to well over 20 million.

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