A recent Pew analysis on the election 2012 exit polls showed more Mormons voted for George W. Bush as president than for Mitt Romney.
Pew exit polls showed 78 percent of Mormons voted for Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential race, while in the 2004 election 80 percent of Mormons voted for Bush. Although the difference is small, fewer Mormons voted for a Mormon candidate than they did for a Protestant candidate. Hannah Wheelwright, political science major, member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and member of the BYU College Democrats, didn’t find the numbers surprising.
“Mormons are more diversified than we give them credit for,” Wheelwright said. “I think it was a matter of people realizing that they agree with and trust Obama more, more than it was an act of not voting for Mitt Romney.”
Wheelwright based her vote on various issues including studying Obama’s political view and his policies. This eventually led her from being an Independent voter to a registered Democrat. The LDS Church, however, maintains a strict neutral stance on politics. Wheelwright said for her, voting for Obama “wasn’t a guessing game” and Romney’s being a Mormon was not enough for her to vote red on Election Day. Wheelwright wasn’t alone, as the Pew study showed 21 percent of Mormons voted for Obama.
“People consider the religion as a candidate, but they also look into character and integrity,” Wheelwright said. “You want people to have the same kind of values that you do.”
Mark Thomas, director of elections from the State Lieutenant Office, said although Pew is a valid source of information, exit polls are easily skewed and often wrong.
“Exit polls are always difficult,” Thomas said. “A person has to agree to take the poll, so you are getting a certain segment of the population that is always willing to do that. Also, people don’t always tell the truth, and some will not identify their religion in polls.”
Alden Simmons, exercise science major and independent, is a member of the LDS Church and voted for Mitt Romney.
“It wasn’t because he was Mormon,” Simmons said. “When I can see that a candidate puts God over the country, it shows that he knows that he is going to answer to a higher power other than the U.S. government and himself.”
Simmons said he believes many Mormons did not vote for Romney to prove they are a diverse people.
“I think it is a bandwagon mentality,” Simmons said. “‘I am going to vote different because it is different from the social norm.’ It’s a decision not based upon an underlying political philosophy, it is motivated behind trying to erase a social stereotype — which is trying to prove that all Mormons are not Republican.”
The Pew study also showed that those who attended religious services more often were more likely to vote Republican. Although Romney did not gain as much of the Mormon vote as Bush did, he did receive more of the Jewish vote than has any recent GOP candidate. According to the Pew, 30 percent of Jews who voted cast votes for Romney.