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Romney's challenge: What Bexar County's primaries could tell America about the anti-Mormon vote

Photo: Photo illustration by Chuck Kerr, License: N/A

Photo illustration by Chuck Kerr

Photo: Steven Gilmore, License: N/A

Steven Gilmore

A new Mormon temple being constructed on Talley Road.

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Nevertheless, even the SBC's Jeffress has declared that in a general election between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama, he would vote for Romney. Though the latter's faith "causes some concern" among evangelicals, according to the SBC's Ledbetter, "We realize that there have been other men that aspired to the White House and in some cases attained to the White House that did not believe or practice anything like orthodox Christianity. For us to focus too much on Mitt Romney's Mormonism is a little naive."

From The Same Cloth

Despite the scathing doctrinal diatribes, Mormons and white evangelical Protestants are closely aligned on their conservative social views. Politically, Mormons tend to be both conservative and Republican — even compared with other people who share some of their demographic characteristics. Two-thirds of Mormons (66 percent) describe themselves as politically conservative, and three-quarters of Mormon voters (74 percent) identify with or lean toward the Republican Party.

If primary front-runner Romney becomes Republican candidate Romney, many observers expect that evangelicals will swallow their bile and vote Mitt, given their visceral opposition to Obama. "There is no evidence that Romney's Mormon faith would prevent rank-and-file Republicans, including white evangelicals, from coalescing around him if he wins the GOP nomination," a Pew Forum survey last November found. "Given a choice between Romney and Obama, the majority of the San Antonio Tea Party faithful will go with Romney," said SATP President George Rodriguez. "The difference is night and day to us. Obama is seen as anti-Constitution, anti-strong American defense, anti-First Amendment, on and on. Obama and the liberals have to go. We will be energized locally, by me personally and others. That won't be a problem." However, Rodriguez's optimism should Romney prevail, perhaps tinged by the fact that Rodriguez himself is an active Mormon, clashes with numbers predicting a deflated base, rather than an energized one.

Although the Pew Forum survey from November found that 91 percent of white evangelical Protestants would vote Mitt over Barack — when asked if they would strongly support the candidacy, the proportion falls to 79 percent. Among all Republican or Republican-leaning voters, the proportions are 87 percent and 71 percent, respectively.

In a Romney-Obama match-up, Evidence Ministry's Parker pledges to cast his ballot for a third party. "I don't care if people say that's throwing away my vote," he said. "I would never vote for Romney." That's not a fringe sentiment in Texas; it's a major one.

"More than one in five Texas voters — 23 percent — say most of the people they know would not vote for a Mormon presidential candidate even if they agreed with him or her on the issues," states a University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll, also from November.

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