You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Mon, Jun 25, 2012 : 11:09 a.m.

Forecast 2012: 'The political matchup of the century'?

By Wayne Baker

0625 ov presidential campaign in full swing.jpg

Editor's note: This post is part of a series by Dr. Baker on Our Values about core American values. This week Dr. Baker is revisiting his predictions for the top five values issues of 2012.

In January, I made predictions of the top five values issues of 2012, promising to revisit them six months later. Back then, Romney was far from clinching his party’s nomination, barely edging out Santorum in the Iowa caucuses. Nonetheless, I predicted that the former Massachusetts governor would secure the GOP nomination. Aside from the formalities of the GOP convention, it’s certain that Romney will face Obama, making it the political matchup of the century.

What makes it so? Religion and race.

No matter who wins, it’ll be a first.
If Romney wins, we will have elected the first Mormon president of the United States.
If Obama wins, it will be the first re-election of an African American president. Either way, the election will be a big one in the history books.

What makes this even more interesting is that many Americans still can’t name Obama’s religion. Forty-four percent say they don’t know what it is, according to new Gallup survey. Only a third (34 percent) knows that he is a Christian. And, one in 10 (11 percent) says Obama is a Muslim. Almost two of 10 Republicans (18 percent) say the commander in chief is Muslim.

Romney fares better. A majority of Americans (57 percent) know that Romney is Mormon, according to Gallup. But, he also faces bias because of his religion: 18 percent of Americans say they would not vote for a well-qualified candidate who is Mormon. That’s about the same percentage at the time Romney’s father, George, was considering a run for the presidency.

Did you expect Romney to be the Republican candidate?

Is Obama/Romney "The political matchup of the century"?

Will Romney's religion hurt him in the election — or won't it matter?

SPECIAL NOTE: Thanks to returning guest writer Terry Gallagher for his series last week on America’s favorite pastime!

Dr. Wayne E. Baker is a sociologist on the faculty of the University of Michigan Ross School of Business. Baker blogs daily at Our Values and can be reached at or on Facebook.


Sarah Rigg

Tue, Jun 26, 2012 : 12:49 p.m.

As I suspected, the fundamentalist/Evangelical Christians I know are very hesitant to outright hostile to the idea of voting for a Mormon. I suspect they'll vote libertarian rather than vote Democratic or vote for a Mormon.