Mormons more popular than atheists

Everyone’s standing up for Romney’s plea for tolerance of his odd religion. Unfortunately, he didn’t grant any time in his speech to include non-believers. According to Gallup, we’ve got the bigger problem. The most recent polling puts the number of Americans who’d be willing to vote for a qualified atheist for president at just 46%, a number that has plateaued over the past decade. A qualified Mormon, in contrast, would draw support from 80% of the population.

Women, racial, and religious minorities have seen a very positive trend in voter acceptance. Perhaps an electable atheist politician could boost these numbers beyond the hypothetical response rate, but it seems that despite the success of atheists writers in the media, secular society is losing ground to the evangelical impulse and traditional morality in politics.

[Hat tip: Unqualified Offerings.]

Update 12/12: See also The Economist and The NYT.

Trust me, I’m an atheist


3 thoughts on “Mormons more popular than atheists”

  1. Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if the reason for this is because so many people have trouble imagining an electable atheist; people picture atheists as hostile, angry, rash people.

    Of course, for many atheists that’s a completely inaccurate picture, but that doesn’t stop people from having the stereotype in their minds. Personally I’d be comfortable voting for a qualified atheist, Mormon, Muslim, Scientologist or whatever, provided they were the best candidate.

  2. I think Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is an atheist, albeit a Jewish one. But I’m not sure about that. Either way, he doesn’t have that great of a public profile. And he’s a socialist, so he’s not going to be making any friends among the conservatives anytime soon. Either way, it means that you could at least get elected in Vermont (and the libertarianism might play well up there, actually).

    Matt – I wonder what the number is for Scientologists. I’d wager that’s in the low 30s – a lot of people have a lot of vitriol for them.

  3. One contest found Pete Stark to be the only open atheist in Congress. Unfortunately, he’s a perfect example of the kind of guy who fits Matt’s description.

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