Mitt Romney is a shoo-in to be elected president in 2008 — if he has the good fortune to run against Louis Farrakhan, Michael Newdow or Tom Cruise.
Or, more precisely, a Muslim, atheist or scientologist.
According to a FOX News/Opinion Dynamics poll conducted in December, 32 percent of voters said they would be less likely to vote for a presidential candidate who is Mormon. Forty-five percent said they'd be less likely to vote for a Muslim, 50 percent would be less likely to vote for an atheist and 53 percent would be less likely to vote for a Scientologist.
Only 9 percent said they would be more likely to vote for a candidate because he is Mormon, considerably more than the 5 percent who would be more likely to vote for a Muslim candidate, 5 percent for an atheist and 4 percent for a Scientologist.
Nineteen percent said they would be more likely to vote for a candidate who is a member of the Christian Coalition and 24 percent said they would be less likely.
Seventeen percent said they would be more likely to vote for a candidate who is black, and 21 percent said they would be more likely to vote for a woman candidate.
Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, espoused his faith while announcing his candidacy on Tuesday.
"I believe in God and I believe that every person in this great country, and every person on this grand planet, is a child of God. We are all sisters and brothers," he said.
Last week, Romney told FOX News that "anything's fair in politics" but he didn't think his religion would be a hindrance.
"In my view, the people of America want a person of faith to lead the country. I believe in God. I believe that — that all of His children are — are around us, in the various nations and in this great nation. ... And I believe that if people want to understand the nature of my faith, they can look at my wife and me and our family. They can see that our faith has made us better people, better Americans," he said.
There was one good bit of news for Romney at the time: Only 14 percent of those questioned knew that the former Massachusetts governor was a Mormon. The bad news: 43 percent said they'd never heard of him.