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Political Scientist David Campbell Analyzes New Pew Survey on Mormons

David Campbell

There are as many Mormons in America as there are Jews, yet there has been far less research into the Mormon community. A new survey released January 12 by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life called “Mormons in America: Certain in Their Beliefs, Uncertain of Their Place in Society” is a “huge leap forward for what we know about Mormons,” according to David Campbell, a University of Notre Dame political scientist who researches religion and politics, and who himself is a Mormon.

“From Broadway to the race for the White House, this is the ‘Mormon Moment’ in America,” Campbell says. “In particular, Mitt Romney’s success in the race for the Republican presidential nomination has put Mormons under a microscope.”

Included in the survey are findings on reactions to the “Mormon Moment;” Mormons and family life; religious beliefs and practices; and politics, society and morality.

Notable results include:
• 46 percent of Mormons believe there is “a lot of discrimination in the U.S.” against Mormons;
• 62 percent of Mormons say that American people know little or nothing about Mormonism;
• 63 percent of Mormons think that acceptance of Mormonism is on the rise;
• 54 percent of Mormons say the portrayal of Mormons on television and in movies hurts society’s image of Mormons;
• 15 percent of Mormons say the portrayal of Mormons on television and in movies helps society’s image of Mormons, with 10 percent saying they don’t know and 22 percent saying it has no effect;
• 20 percent of Mormons are satisfied with the way things are going in the U.S. vs. 17 percent of the general public;
• 56 percent of Mormons say the country is ready to elect a Mormon president;
• 74 percent of Mormons lean Republican; 17 percent lean Democrat; 9 percent lean independent or don’t know;
• 86 percent of Mormons rate Mitt Romney favorably; 50 percent of Mormons rate Jon Huntsman Jr. favorably; 22 percent of Mormons view Harry Reid favorably;
• 97 percent of Mormons say Mormonism is a Christian religion, while only 51 percent of the general public see it as Christian;
• 2 percent of Mormons say Mormonism is not a Christian religion, while 32 percent of the general public say it is not a Christian religion;
• 49 percent of Mormons believe that not drinking coffee or tea is essential to being a good Mormon;
• 73 percent of Mormons believe that working to help the poor is essential to being a good Mormon;
• 58 percent of Mormons keep at least three months of stored food.

Campbell, the John Cardinal O’Hara, C.S.C. Associate Professor of Political Science, directs the University’s Rooney Center for the Study of American Democracy and focuses his research on religion, politics, and civic engagement. He is the author of Why We Vote: How Schools and Communities Shape our Civic Life and editor of A Matter of Faith: Religion in the 2004 Presidential Election. Most recently, he co-wrote American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us with Robert Putnam of Harvard University. It won the American Political Science Association’s 2011 Woodrow Wilson Foundation Award for the best book on government, politics, or international affairs.

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