Survey Shows Most Protestant pastors are going with Romney

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A recent survey among Protestant pastors indicates concerns within that group over Mitt Romney's Mormon faith have diminished.

The LifeWay Research study of pastors at 1,000 Protestant churches found that 57 percent plan to vote for Romney, compared to 17 percent for Obama; 22 percent remain undecided (see first graph below). LifeWay Research president Ed Stetzer says it is probably a surprising shift for a lot of people. "[Among some Protestant pastors] many used very strong words during the primaries about how they wouldn't vote for Governor Romney ...," notes the researcher. "[But] Protestant pastors are voting for Governor Romney at a higher level than they indicated on an earlier sample for Senator [John] McCain -- and the support for President Obama has also declined as well [since 2008], and the Mormonism has not been a factor for most people."

In earlier studies, including one conducted in 2011, three out of four Protestant pastors indicated they did not see Mormonism as a Christian religion. Stetzer says that seems to be a mainstream Protestant, evangelical view. But the latest stats show little influence.

How much of a factor is Mitt Romney's Mormon faith in your voting decision?

Now, there's always the mix -- mainline, evangelical," he explains. "Those who aren't voting for Governor Romney generally are not doing so related to his Mormon faith." (See second graph below)

Eighty-two percent of pastors who identify as Republican plan to vote for Romney; 80 percent who consider themselves Democrats plan to vote for Obama; and 47 percent who are Independent plan to vote for Romney.

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