Romney's religion unknown to most

Published: Monday, July 25 2011 2:00 p.m. MDT

New polling from the Public Religion Research Institute shows only 40 percent of Americans correctly identify presidential candidate Mitt Romney as Mormon.

Forty-six percent said they didn't know Romney's religious beliefs, while 10 percent incorrectly identified him as Protestant or as Catholic.

"It's really too early to gauge the full impact Romney's religious identity will have on the election, but there are suggestive patterns," said Robert P. Jones, CEO of Public Religion Research Institute. "Because views about the Mormon faith are tied to political support, Romney will need to continue to address these perceptions as Americans learn more about him during the campaign."

Another major finding of the study is that 56 percent of the public says it is important for a presidential candidate to have strong religious beliefs, regardless of whether those beliefs are the same as their own.

Support for Romney spikes among that 56 percent majority that believes it's important for a presidential candidate to have strong religious beliefs. Although the PRRI polling of all Americans pegs President Barack Obama as leading Romney 44 percent to 36 percent in a head-to-head matchup, the tables turn and Republican Romney leads Democrat Obama 43-36 when the voting sample is narrowed to the people who want a presidential candidate to have strong religious moorings.

EMAIL: jaskar@desnews.com, Twitter: askargo

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