President Barack Obama marked the first African-American president of the United States.
Do we want to see another first in 2012? Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman may realize that dream, by becoming the first Mormon president ever.
Curiosity aside, would you actually vote for a presidential nominee if that person is a Mormon?
If not, you are among a fifth of Americans.
A Gallup poll conducted June 9-12 indicates that while the vast majority of Americans would vote for a Mormon for president in 2012, 22% said they would not.
The current Republican front-runner Mitt Romney is an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, commonly called as the Mormon church. His fellow candidate Jon Huntsman, former Utah Governor and former Ambassador to China, also shares Mormon faith.
The Mormon church has over 5 million members across the U.S. in 2010, and ranks among the five largest denominations among Christianity, while many do not view Mormon faith as Christian.
In the poll, 20% of Republicans and independents said they would not vote for a Mormon for president, and so did 27% of Democrats.
In the poll conducted with a random sample of 1,020 adults aged 18 and older in the U.S., the willingness to vote for those of various characteristics for president was surveyed.
The opposition to vote for a Mormon nominee was exceeded by the resistance to vote for a gay or lesbian, 32%, and for an atheist, 49%. 10% or fewer would not vote for Hispanic, Jewish, Baptist, Catholic, female, or black.
According to Gallup,
The stability in U.S. bias against voting for a Mormon presidential candidate contrasts markedly with steep declines in similar views toward several other groups over the past half-century, including blacks, women, Catholics, and Jews. The last time as many as 22% of Americans said they would not vote for any of these groups (the same level opposed to voting for a Mormon today) was 1959 for Catholics, 1961 for Jews, 1971 for blacks, and 1975 for women. As noted, opposition to voting for each of these has since tapered off to single digits.
Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman seem to be running a quite tough race.
During his 2007 speech in Texas, Romney has directly announced his faith, and has also been publicly active in his faith, holding local religious positions.
Huntsman, on the other hand, is said to have interest in multiple faiths. Huntsman told Fortune, I get satisfaction from many different types of religions and philosophies.
Huntsman has a solid Mormon pedigree, with his grandfather being one of the highest-ranking Mormon leaders and his father, a billionaire businessman, being a regional official in the faith.
Mitt Romney, viewed as the Republican frontrunner for the White House in 2012, has recently refused to sign the Susan B. Anthony pro-life pledge, which asks candidates for their promise to only nominate or support judicial candidates who are pro-life, to select only pro-life cabinet members and to support legislation that would prohibit abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Jon Huntsman has not yet signed the Anthony pledge either. At least for Romney, his refusal has drawn much attention and doubt about his leadership and commitment to ending abortion.
The attacks are due not only to his position itself, but the fact it flipped over.
Romney is further blamed by Senator Harry Reid for being a flip-flopper who doesn't know who he is, as he continues to switch his positions on issues such as gay marriage and abortion.
He was for gay marriage when he was governor. Now he's against it. He was for abortion when he was governor. Now he's against it. Healthcare - we modeled our bill to a large degree [on] what he did in Massachusetts. Now he's trying to run from that. If someone doesn't know who they are, they shouldn't be president of the United States, said Reid.
The front-runner in the Republican stakes now - here's a man who doesn't know who he is.
Jon Huntsman, who declared his candidacy for 2012 White House bid on Tuesday, might want to do better in knowing who he is.
Huntsman, 51, began behind his Republican competitors in the polls but is holding the potential to rise up as a strong contender.
As governor of Utah, Huntsman was successful in the largest tax cut in the state's history, by more than $400 million. He also maintained AAA bond rating and developed Utah as one of the best state for business.
Both Romney and Huntsman seem to focus on the economy and job market. Huntsman pledged to make hard decisions to prevent America sinking into a debt disaster.
Will the 22% who are reluctant to have a Mormon president be a stumbling block for Romney and Huntsman in the often-narrowly-margined presidential race? In the end, it may be difficult to precisely measure any anti-Mormon bias from a single poll, and the Mormon issue may be minor as the candidates continue in their campaigns and battle over various political issues.
Will the Mormon nominees have something radically different to say from the rest of the candidates? The months to come will prove it, and hopefully Romney will learn to take a consistent stance.