Gallup poll: Mormons like Obama least of all faith groups

Published: Friday, July 11 2014 6:15 p.m. MDT

President Barack Obama has an 18 percent approval rating among Mormons.  (Pablo Martinez Monsivais, AP) President Barack Obama has an 18 percent approval rating among Mormons. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais, AP)

SALT LAKE CITY — There is little in the numbers of a new Gallup poll to suggest Latter-day Saints hold a grudge against President Obama for beating one of their own in the 2012 presidential election.

Most Mormons — more than any other faith group — disapprove of the president's job performance because they are Republicans and he's a Democrat, and they felt that way long before Mitt Romney's campaign began.

The Gallup poll, released Friday, showed that 18 percent of Mormons approve of the job the president is doing; 72 percent do not.

"It's not surprising, given the fact Mormons are overwhelmingly Republican," said Quin Monson, co-author of the forthcoming book "Seeking the Promised Land: Mormons in American Politics."

"I don't see this at all as a religious thing," said Monson, who is a BYU political science professor. "I see this as a political thing. Those who don't approve of the president are very likely to be Republicans. Those who do approve of Obama are very likely to be Democrats.

"There aren't very many Mormon Democrats, and that explains it."

Those are easily the worst numbers for the president of any faith group — 37 percent of Protestant/other Christians said they approved of Obama, the next lowest group — but a downward trend among Latter-day Saints matches the national trend in the president's approval ratings.

Muslims gave Obama the highest approval rating at 72 percent.

One TV pundit tweeted Friday that Obama was on top with Muslims and a flop among Mormons, but again, the results didn't surprise experts and pundits.

The Fix blog at washingtonpost.com said that even thought Obama is not a Muslim, it is no surprise Muslim faithful like the president given that 63 percent of Muslims are Democrats or lean Democrat, according to the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.

The Pew data show that 65 percent of Mormons are Republican or lean Republican versus 22 percent who are Democrats or lean Democrat.

Catholics, at 44 percent, mirrored the national average of 43 percent.

The results drew attention nationally.

The headline at online news site Mediaite went so far as to say Obama is "hated by Mormons," though it didn't offer any analysis. Its story said the president's 18 percent approval among Mormons was "abysmal."

The partisan nature of the job approval poll was clear in two other tweets.

Romniac tweeted: "It looks like the Mormons got it right!"

Utah Mormon Demo Guy said, "Mormon approval of Pres. Obama is at rock bottom. I am in the 18%."

Monson couldn't see a "Romney effect" on Obama's low numbers among Mormons.

"(Mormons) might feel a little extra regret," he said. "There's a little more 'what could have been,' 'what might have been' feeling than other Republicans have."

Obama's job approval rating among Mormons was 43 percent in mid-2009, but it dove to 22 percent by the end of 2010.

LDS approval ratings for the president stood at 26 percent about the time Romney announced his candidacy in June 2011. They slid to 21 percent at the end of 2012.

Those movements tracked with the trends both nationally and among other faith groups, with the president's approval rating slipping across the board over the past five years.

The results are based on 88,000 tracking interviews Gallup conducted during the first six months of the year.

Gallup polled 1,274 Mormons during that time, for a margin of error of +/- 3 percentage points.

Email: twalch@deseretnews.com

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