Voters are largely unfazed by Mitt Romney's Mormon faith, according to a new poll by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.
Despite having occupied a prominent position in the Church of Latter Day Saints' hierarchy, Romney has remained largely silent about his religion during the election. While a majority of voters are aware that he is a Mormon, about a third said they did not know what religion he practices.
But amongst the 60 percent who did, about 80 percent said they were comfortable with Romney's religion or did not care. The figure was about the same for the one-fifth of voters who mistakenly identified Romney as something other than Mormon.
More enthusiastic Romney supporters were more likely to say they were comfortable with his faith. The likely Republican nominee still drew strong backing from white evangelicals, a voting bloc that consistently opted for other candidates during the Republican presidential primary.
A large chunk of the electorate is still ignorant of President Obama's faith. Just under half the people surveyed correctly identified the president as a Christian, while the percentage of voters who erroneously believe him to be a Muslim basically hasn't budged. About a fifth of Americans continue to identify Obama as Muslim, reflecting how difficult that particular piece of misinformation has been to dislodge.
Conservative Republicans were especially likely to believe Obama is a Muslim, with about a third of them saying so. Curiously, about a quarter of Americans who think he is a Muslim said they were comfortable with that.
While about two-thirds of respondents valued having a presidential candidate with strong religious beliefs, two-thirds of the people polled also opposed religious institutions explicitly endorsing presidential candidates. The same proportion said that religion is playing less of a role in public life.