Mitt Romney Gains With Obama in Poll

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney announces he is running for President of the United States, Thursday, June 2, 2011, during a campaign event at Bittersweet Farm in Stratham, N.H. (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia)

Potential presidential contender Mitt Romney is maintaining his lead in the polls for the Republican presidential nomination, and is becoming increasingly competitive against President Barack Obama, the Los Angeles Times reported Wednesday. However, a new Quinnipiac poll released the same day says Romney still faces a public relations problem over his religion.

According to the LA Times, 25 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents back Romney in the fight for the GOP nomination, the best numbers Romney has seen in months. It’s also the first time any Republican in the field has seen that kind of showing.

But Romney’s membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints continues to be a problem for most mainstream voters. The Quinnipiac poll showed only 45 percent of those surveyed had a favorable opinion of the Mormon religion, and 32 percent reported an unfavorable one. In a brief meta-analysis, the LA Times reported that between a quarter and a third of voters have said they would have a problem electing a Mormon as president.

This sentiment reflects some of the problems Romney experienced last time around, when he tried—and failed—to resolve the religious tension through a campaign speech on common heritage and values.

“The fact that less than half of voters have a favorable view of the religion is likely to be a political issue that Gov. Mitt Romney…will have to deal with as [he] pursue[s] the White House,” assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute Peter Brown told the LA Times. Despite the disconnect over his religion, however, Romney was found to be closing in on Obama, losing 47% to 41%. Polling in second place behind Romney is Sarah Palin, and then businessman Herman Cain, who continues to see increasing public favor.
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