February 5, 2008

Are Romney's caucus victories due to Mormon conspiracies?

Mitt Romney won big in a couple of purplish states with well-educated, civic-minded electorates: Colorado (59%-19%) and Minnesota (42%-22%-20%). Those are respectable wins.

But ... both were caucus states rather than primaries. And I'm starting to get suspicious.

That seems to be a pattern -- Romney does well in caucuses and loses in primaries. Before today, he won caucuses in Wyoming, Nevada, and Maine, and a primary in his "home" state of Michigan. Perhaps that's just because the more dedicated, public affairs-oriented individuals who show up at caucuses have carefully assessed each candidate's positions and resumes and made a responsible choice for Romney.

Or maybe ... it's because Mormons keep packing the caucuses.

Unfortunately, I can't find exit polls for Colorado and Minnesota, but we do know that Romney's victory in the Nevada caucus was boosted by Mormons making up 25% of the GOP caucusers and going close to 100% for Romney. So, I have my suspicions about his other caucus victories. If anybody has any evidence one way or another, let me know.

Oh, wait, Romney did do really, really well in one primary today, where he got 90% of the vote, so maybe my suspicions are paranoid.

Except ... that state was Utah.

Mormons -- they'd take over the world in a couple more generations ... if only they were allowed to drink caffeinated beverages!

This is not to say that Mormons can't be dedicated, public affairs-oriented individuals. In fact, I would expect that they are a little above average in this regard. It's just that the discreet charm of Mitt Romney just seems to be a little too discreet to win many elections where Mormons don't make up a sizable fraction of the voters.

In other states today, Romney won in caucuses in Alaska (44%) and in primaries in Montana (38%), North Dakota (36%), and in his "home" state of Massachusetts with 51%. That's a little better than McCain's 47% in his home state of Arizona, but not as good as Huckabee's 61% in Arkansas. In contrast, Obama won 64% in Illinois and Clinton 57% in New York. So, to know McCain and Romney is apparently not to love them.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer


Anonymous said...

I'm not sure Mormon are any more or less zealous than fundamental Christians who far outnumber them.

These are the same fundies who, like their brainless corrupt leader Huckabee, will do anything to smear Mormons who follow Satan's brother.

I also suspect that Mormons are also outnumbered by party machine people who have aligned behind McCain.

My guess is that in a general election without just the zealots, Huckabee would fall off the map and it would be a close race between Romney and McCain.

Rosamund said...

I noticed that, too: does well in caucuses. Michigan was a primary, but aren't they mostly of German descent? Wyoming was a caucus, too. Romney's appeal has been shown to be among metro conservatives as opposed to McCain's metro liberals or Huck's rural conservatives.

I think if he could have made it to the general, the rural fundamentalists would have come around, but it appears they really weren't going to vote for a Mormon in the primary. I believe Mark Steyn has it right when he says that talk radio convinced Southerners to leave McCain... and they did so, but went back to Huckabee!

Per your post, I remember a comment left by a liberal at "New Republic" about 3 or so months ago when Mitt looked good for Iowa and N.H., and I hope this doesn't come across as being sore, but at different turns in this race it has haunted me that it might come true. It was something to the effect of: Romney is extremely intelligent, better than the G.O.P. deserves, but it wouldn't surprise me if it doesn't impress them (to be fair, people of all political persuasions who are intelligent spoke admirably of Romney's gravitas). When I think of the behavior of the other two front runners, especially during debates, and I see the results in the South tonight, it is with great sadness. On the other hand, the silver lining (how thin it is!) is that McCain not overrunning the South shows that conservatism isn't dead.

Now I await some wise and genteel white conservative man with a nice religion to swoop in from somewhere, Anywhere!, and wake us from this nightmare.

Ron Guhname said...

Steve: You're idea works well for Nevada and Colorado where the Mormon population is large enough for this to happen: 166,000 and 126,000, respectively. But Maine, Alaska, North Dakota, and Minnesota, where the respective Mormon totals are 9,800, 27,600, 5,600, and 27,600? In Minnesota, 25,171 total people voted for Romney. How many of those could have been Mormon?

I'm sure votes for Romney were disproportionately Mormon, but enough to change the outcome? Maybe in Nevada. Orchestrated? I doubt it very much. More likely, Romney attracted the interest of some Mormons who usually don't vote in caucuses, but I doubt very much there was anything orchestrated.

Mormons I've talked to were likely to vote for him, but they were not very enthusiastic about him. What church leaders do typically is to remind people to get out and vote. They don't tell them who to vote for, but preference is obviously given to a Mormon candidate. Utah's numbers are troubling in their uniformity (90% for Romney, geez).

If Mormons orchestrate this kind of thing, why didn't Hatch do better when he ran for President?

Sleep said...

I think he's using the term conspiracy rather jovially here given his post about conspiracies few days ago. I hope =)

I live in Maine and there are quite a few Mormons here, surprisingly enough, but I think most of his support is just bleedover from Massachusetts, since a lot of Maine residents these days are in fact immigrants from Massachusetts.

Mormons are very definitely excited about the chance of getting a Mormon in the White House though. They are bloc voters in a way no other religion is. 90 percent of Mormons are Republicans, and right now it seems like 90 percent of the Republicans are Romney supporters. So if you took away the Mormon vote, and you took away the "let's vote for the local boy" mentality that got him wins in Massachusetts and Michigan and maybe Maine, there really isn't that much genuine Romney support left, and so I think his support has actually been overrated rather than underrated in this primary season so far, despite the representation of his narrow loss to McCain in Florida as a total defeat because of the allotment of all the delegates to McCain.

Anonymous said...

Guhname's figures are probably also overstated, since of course many Mormons are too young to vote and since the Church claims everyone who is baptized as a member, of which probably something like 35% to 45% are actually "active." Many of the remainder will have little to no Mormon identity.

I suspect that Romney's organizational prowess, the much greater impression he makes on smaller groups, and the greater conservatism and issue orientation of party activists are much more plausible explanations.

-Adam Greenwood

PRT_Punk said...

McCain did poorly in Alaska for two reasons; He's against drilling in ANWR and he's against pork-barrel politics.

Alaska gets tons of pork.

John Thacker said...

That's a little better than McCain's 47% in his home state of Arizona, but not as good as Huckabee's 61% in Arkansas. ... So, to know McCain and Romney is apparently not to love them.

Except there are a lot of Mormons in northern Arizona as well. So if the Mormon theory holds, then that explains part of the Arizona results, no?

Also note that Ron Paul does best in caucuses as well; unsurprising that a candidate with a lot of committed small donors would do well at caucuses.

Greg Marquez said...

There's obviously something wrong with Ron's numbers, Alaska and Minnesota both have 27,600 mormons? Unless there's some Mormon significance to the number.

SFG said...

I'm telling you guys, he's square. He gives off that upright-but-no-charisma vibe you see in a lot of Mormons. He did well in the Upper Midwest, where squareness is a virtue, dont'cha know.

McCain won most of the Northeast, where even the Republicans are liberals. (No, really; a lot of moderate liberals up here think the Democrats are too far left to make good managers and vote Republican for local offices. I guess they thought McCain was far enough left they could actually swallow him.)

Huckabee's Christian, won the South, end of story.

As for Mass, well, they probably thought he was their hometown boy. And, hey, he pahked his cah in Hahvahd Yahd for freshman year, no?

Roger Penroid said...

Steve, I know you're disappointed in Romney's showing, but it's OK to admit it. You're amongst (mostly) friends.

William said...

The range of home state results ranged from 47% in AZ for the ''crazy old coot'' to 74% for Hillary in AR (she's a carpetbagger, remember? So is Romney now that I think of it.)

They like her, they really like her.

William said...

In Minnesota, 25,171 total people voted for Romney. How many of those could have been Mormon?

The latest data for Minnesota show that the state has 28,627 LDS residents. So at best perhaps 10,000 voted for Romney, but even that many is highly unlikely.

But there is a large clannish aspect to the Mormon culture, and Romney's run has excited Mormons to a degree I've never seen. They certainly didn't support Orrin Hatch to this extent when he ran back in 2000. Utahns have contributed to Romney's campaign to a degree they never have before (although no one seems to criticize when Jews contribute in outsized numbers).

Half Sigma said...

Mormons are much more loyal the Mormon community, in a way that goes beyond regular Protestant Christianity.

It's not exactly the same as having strong religious convictions.

corvinus said...

Ron Paul also does much better in caucuses than in primaries.

William said...

Romney won 89.62% of Utah Republicans in yesterday's primary. He did even better in heavily Mormon Utah County, home of LDS Church-owned BYU, receiving 50,756 votes to McCain's 1,104 votes and Huckabee's 222 votes. Ron Paul actually got more votes in Utah County (1,820) than Huckabee and McCain combined.

Utah is only about 60-70% Mormon (and not all practicing) but Mormons dominate the GOP here.

Identity politics is clearly playing a strong role in this election, with (as Ramesh Ponnuru pointed out) Mormons voting for a Mormon, evangelicals for an evangelical, women for a (alleged) woman, blacks for a black guy, and Hispanic Republicans for the Republican who promises amnesty for their fellow Hispanics.

What did Al Gore say a few years back? "E Pluribus Unum - out of one, many."

Yep, that's us. The blessings of diversity - I'm celebrating 'em even as I write this.

TGGP said...

Mormons are quite competent and organized. I wish everybody except me was Mormon.

James said...

Mormons are homegrown diversity.

Anonymous said...

The caucuses tend to attract the party faithful. That is probably why Romney is winning the caucus states.

Anonymous said...

Alternatively, Romney did better out West where Mormonism is not seen as some extreme cult, like Scientology.

If people have some neighbors or work-mates who are Mormons, and find them OK, they are more comfortable voting for Romney.

Clearly, there is a big divide between Romney in the West and Upper Midwest and everywhere else.

Ron Guhname said...

greg: The numbers are a coincidence. The numbers are rounded--that doesn't help.

Argent Paladin said...

I agree with one of the anonymouses. Romney won in the Mountain states, lost big in the south and fought hard in the rest. This is due to two factors: degree that Mormonism is seen as something foreign and strange and antipathy towards a North-Eastern rich, expensive-suited, well-groomed pretty boy. That's a double whammy in the evangelical, anti-Yankee South. In the west they don't care that he's a Mormon, but he is from Massachussets. In the North-east, its a plus that he's from Mass but a small minus that he's a Mormon.

Anonymous said...

He gives off that upright-but-no-charisma vibe you see in a lot of Mormons.

Modern Mormonism is very, very good at teaching young men a duty and achievement model of manhood. Its very, very bad at teaching a rough-and-tumble BSD model of manhood. It sounds like I'm bragging, but I think this is kinda of a weakness. We're not feminized like lots of churches but we still are turning young men off. Its no coincidence that at the local level most of the really beloved leaders are Mormons who left the church to raise hell when younger and later came back.

-Adam Greenwood

anony-mouse said...

I suspect that the votes for Romney were not just pro-Mormon votes, but after Huck's comments were also anti-anti-Mormon votes.

If the GOP choses Huckabee for veep Utah may, for the first time since the Depression, be at least partly in play.

William said...

We're not feminized like lots of churches but we still are turning young men off. - Adam Greenwood

Allowing women/gays to become clergy is usually one of the first signs that a church is on the downhill path. Every church that has done so seems to be in decline. I wonder if any study has ever been done correlating female clergy with growth rates?

When last I attended church - several years ago - the word was that a larger percentage of Mormon women were "inactive" than Mormon men. Is this still true? And have any reasons been posited as to why?

formerbeltwaywonk said...

It's more about media than religion. People who listen to talk radio or get their information from the Internet are more highly motivated than people who just watch the nightly news on TV.

Romney was strongly supported by most of talk radio. People either tune out talk radio or are highly motivated by it, relative to other mass media. Higher motivation translates to better performance in caucuses than in primaries.

The contrast is even starker for Ron Paul, who did well in a number of caucuses (e.g. 25% in Montana) but very poorly in primaries (usually 3-6%). People who use the Internet for research and coordination are even more highly motivated than talk radio listeners.

Bret Ludwig said...

Mormons are in a lot of ways like Jews who are also Masons. They have group cohesion. A Mormon will hire a fellow Mormon over a gentile if possible. A Mormon will finance a fellow Mormon's deal over that of a gentile. If in court it comes down to a swearing contest the word of a Mormon beats that of a gentile provided it does not hurt the Mormon community.

On the other hand if a Mormon does something to embarrass the LDS Church or Mormons as a group....does the name Rosenberg mean anything to you?

Not Alfred, or Gizmo, Julius and Ethel. They were sent to the chair by Jews because Jews felt it was good for Jews. They would have never ratted them out (hence the Jewish saying, "I love him like a brother- David Greenglass", but when their acts got out to the gentile world, what had to be done had to be done. In this Kauffman and Cohn were quintessentially Jewish. Mormons would do the same and have.