Mitt Romney and the age of the Mormons

Mormons are big news now, with possibly two presidential candidates.

Recent polls show former Massachusetts Gov., Mitt Romney, beating Barack Obama. And now former Utah governor and ambassador to China, Jon Huntsman, is flirting with his own run for the presidency.

Both stories put the subject of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the spotlight. Both men are Mormons. And both men are Republicans. And the Republican Party is chocked full of born again, evangelical Christians who have been known to be hostile to Mormons.

But the fact is that the GOP landscape is changing. And that’s why Romney is the front-runner and Huntsman is willing to spend some time and money to take a look. It is not so much that evangelicals are receding, if anything there is a further coalescing of their numbers within the GOP.

The Democratic Party is now losing the few, liberal, white born-again voters it had. The change is in the attitude of evangelicals toward Mormons.

Mark DeMoss, Ralph Reed, and other evangelical leaders are showing the way as many are finally coming to appreciate the Mormon ethic. How can you ignore the fact that Utah, which is 70 percent Mormon is annually declared the best place to raise a child in the country?

It has the lowest child poverty rate. And while it has the highest birth rate it has the lowest number of teen pregnancies and out-of-wedlock births. Comparing Utah to the rest of the nation is like comparing the United States to the Third World. Outside of Utah, 33 percent of all children in America are now born to unmarried parents. Utah is an island of American traditional values in practice.

While the American educational system continues in free fall, the high school graduation rates in Utah are astronomical. Utah spends a larger percentage of state dollars on education than any other in the nation.

Likewise, Self magazine labels Provo, Utah as the No. 1 healthiest city in for women. Stats on married members of the Latter Day Saints show that the divorce rate is 13 percent for any couple married for five years.  Two of the other Republican candidates for president, favored by many evangelical leaders, have eight marriages between them.

Nor is Utah bad for men. It has the nation’s lowest rates of cancer and heart disease. It has the lowest amount of work days missed. It has the lowest per capita rate of people in prison. And it is highest in the nation in charitable giving by the wealthy. According to Newsweek, Utah is first in the U.S. in households with personal computers.

The biggest surprise in Mormon-evangelical rapprochement has been theological and the shared “born again” experience. Now, 56.7 percent of all members describe themselves as “born again Christians.” It is almost the exact number of Baptists.

There are big differences to be sure. Romney is having to take anti-Mormon bias into his plans.

The Salt Lake City convention bureau still says no to large evangelical Christian conventions regardless of the money they would bring to the city. But the climate is ready for a Mitt Romney or Jon Huntsman to win.

The great Democrat alliances of the 1940s forced establishment Protestants to take in Irish and Italian Catholics, most of them immigrants. The differences were deep, with language and food as well as religion helping to create the wedge. But the alliance was made and the political maps were forever redrawn because if it.

The Republican challenge is to unite the electoral rich South, with its evangelical base, with the West, where small but powerful Mormons are organized. On paper it should be an easy task. And if it is effectively concluded it will provide the base that the Republicans need.

To win they must take Ohio or Missouri or Pennsylvania or other border states. But even then, they cannot afford to see Nevada or Arizona or another “Mormon” state slip away behind their back.

Evangelicals and Mormons are learning to their dismay, that they cannot win without the other. They must do more than get along. They must work together or kiss their “traditional values” and their way of life good-bye.

YouTube below: Calling the Huckabee surge in Iowa in 2008



Published by Doug Wead

Doug Wead is a New York Times bestselling author whose latest book, Game of Thorns, is about the Trump-Clinton 2016 election. He served as an adviser to two American presidents and was a special assistant to the president in the George H.W. Bush White House.

8 thoughts on “Mitt Romney and the age of the Mormons

  1. I remember as a young teen, the outcry of John Kennedy’s being Catholic. Fears that the Pope would somehow gain control of America and the government be reverted to a church run state.
    In the end, not only were those fears laid to rest, but Pres. Kennedy became one of the nation’s most beloved and popular presidents. The Kennedy religious value of family, right, justness, courage and strength were byproducts of his Catholic upbringing the country needed, wanted at that time in history. Never mind that he could a scamp, and ladie’s man, he gave American’s a sense of unity and security.

    Hopefully, the American people’s spiritual consciance has raised enough to get past the religious barrier and focus on the best for the contry. Because of the Mormon history, lack of public support and acceptance, one thing does stand out as a consideration ~~~ their tenacity to live a higher moral, ethical and loving life style.

  2. When Huckabee is found to be the first choice of Republican voters, as is often the case, I tend to believe the poll, because he has neither the means nor the inclination to distort the process. I believe none of the results of Republican polling that Romney is the “front runner”, however, because their interest in the truth is subordinated to their interest in power. As a result, I believe Huckabee’s actual standing with the people is under-estimated, and Romney’s is over-estimated.

    Like Romney, Jon Huntsman is wealthy and powerful, but, unlike Romney, he is thought to be a man of some integrity. It is too early to tell how the people will respond to him, but if America could elect a Catholic to the Presidency in 1960, it could certainly elect a Mormon in 2012.

  3. Another interesting article. I am just wondering about Romney support in utah: Last year he actively supported incumbent senator and fellow-Mormon Bennet, yet Bennet was ousted byt he Tea Party and Mike Lee (who is more like Rand Paul) was elected. Could this mean that Romney’s support among Mormons is not so strong? We will see.
    If Huntsman enters the race, it may split the Mormon vote. Then again, they are also not homogenous and one cannot assume all of them would vote for Romney and/or Huntsman. In 2007 some voted for Paul and this year even more so. (I personally doubt many of them would vote for Huckabee – if he runs – as he played the “religious card” against Romney in 2007/2008, something Paul would never do. in fact Paul was the first contender to defend Romney on his freedom of religious belief as presidential candidate as well.

  4. Hi Doug, I have followed your blog since I met you through XanGo and I love your wit and wisdom, however, I don’t know where you got your information that “The Salt Lake City convention bureau still says no to large evangelical Christian conventions regardless of the money they would bring to the city,” because that is simply not true. We just hosted a large Unitarian convention, we’ve hosted national Gospel singing conventions….? You may want to consider doing retraction on that statement.

  5. Oh– and in March of this year Salt Lake hosted the National Association of Evangelicals!

  6. Terrie, Thanks for your note to Doug! I work for the Salt Lake Convention Bureau and echo your view that Mr Wead’s comments are ENTIRELY incorrect.

    In the past Salt Lake has been host to the Evangelical Free Church, Women of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, Southern Baptist Church, and United Pentecostal Church. As you note in March of 2011 Salt Lake hosted the National Association of Evangelicals.

    Leadership from each of these denominations indicated they were extremely pleased with the warm reception their groups received in Salt Lake.

    In fact the the senior meeting planner with the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America serves on our Customer Advisory Board.

    Salt Lake is, and will continue to be, a very welcoming convention city.

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