Yglesias thinks Mitt's got a pretty fine line to walk in simultaneously attempting to woo social conservatives and convince voters that his Mormonism is not an issue:
One assumes that to win, Romney is going to need to talk about his newfound commitment to abortion-banning and gay-hating and the most obvious way to do that would be within the context of talking about his deep Christian faith and so forth. But while that might work great for a Protestant or a Catholic, I don't think it goes over so well if your deep faith is something most Christians consider weird and, indeed, not really Christian.It's an interesting point, but as Yglesias himself notes, Romney's main competitors in the primary contest are John McCain and Rudy Giuliani, neither of whom has much natural appeal to sociocons at all. And Romney has been trying much harder than either of them.
Similarly, it's hard to do the standard JFK-style "my faith is not an issue" thing if you're simultaneously trying to convince politically mobilized Christian traditionalists that you're the candidate for them.
Among the GOP sub-sample, 66 percent told USA Today/Gallup that they would support a Mormon candidate, while 30 percent said they would not (77 percent of independents and 72 percent of Democrats said they could back a Mormon).But does anyone believe that religious conservatives would have any less doubt about a McCain or a Giuliani? And might it benefit Romney that he's out there talking constantly about "faith" at all - even if that faith is not mainstream?
Digging slightly deeper into the Gallup numbers, more skepticism becomes apparent. Of those 66 percent of Republicans who said they would cast a vote for a qualified Mormon, 54 percent said they would be "completely comfortable" with that decision while 12 percent expressed "some reservations" with that choice.
Combine those two questions and here's what you get: 54 percent of Republicans in the Gallup poll would vote for a qualified Mormon without a second thought; 42 percent would either not vote for a Mormon or would do so with some level of doubt.