Is there an anti-Mormon analogous to the Bradley effect?
Okay, so as I understand it, the Bradley effect is a polling phenomenon wherein white people said they were going to vote for a black candidate in greater numbers than they actually did. Its named for a particular black mayoral candidate from the eighties. Admittedly this effect hasn’t been logged or documented during elections in the past decade or so. This has been attributed to increasing trust among white voters for black candidates running for elective office. It could also be as a result of white people polling more honestly and generally having the confidence to express their genuine opinions.
My task here today is to explore the concept of how personal opinion interacts with personal embarrassment. A recent poll showed that only 8% of Americans view Mitt Romney’s religion as a factor determining whether or not they would vote for him. Mitt Romneys religion is quite conspicuously the least relevant fact that those polled have considered in choosing who to vote for.
Upon analyzing this slim figure I’m astonished at the idea that only such a low number would admit to the pan-human trait of religious intolerance. I mean are these the same people who for years were fighting in Northern Ireland in defense of such concepts as Catholic v.s. Protestant?
Now here they are presented with the ideological rift between Christianity and Mormonism and only 8% consider it an issue? The founder of Mormonism was himself assassinated simply for expounding his doctrine of the eventual transition of humans to the level of God. Jesus the Christ was killed, so the story goes, for proselytizing his belief that he was the son of God and the savior of mankind. The very founders of these religions were the first of their respective faiths to experience the very intolerance of which Im writing.
Mormons in America represent about 10 million people in the general population of 313+ millions of people. So its safe to say that the vast majority of Americans are in fact not Mormons. Of these, am I honestly to believe that only a mere 8% consider the alien nature of Mr. Romney’s religion an issue? The only words suitable that come to mind are those of the character Gregory House from the medical drama “House” ; “Everybody lies!”
I now try to imagine a random person on the phone answering these question about their sometimes politically incorrect views. I think about just how many random people out there, when given an opportunity to act like what they believe to be a typical voter, would have the mettle to answer that they do in fact have a problem with candidate Romney’s Mormon faith. The very heart of middle class sensibilities is rooted in denying the less pleasant aspects of the world and of ourselves. True suburbanites have an editing faculty built in. The kind that says, ” Hating Jews is definitely wrong; Hating Blacks is probably wrong and Hating Mormons is…” Well that last part is what we’re examining here today.
Please note that I’m not decrying polls in general. The problem here is not in how these polls were conducted but in those who were polled. These polls assume a deep rooted and academic certainty will result from their carefully worded questions. Their side cannot possibly account for just how irrationally self-conscious some people can be when forced to instantly question their own morality. Denial is usually the first stage or this sudden awakening. Acceptance is inevitably the last. And in between is a variable cocktail of ingredients ranging from realism to self deluding bliss. But at that instant of facing one’s true and disappointing self, denial is the most common first defense. So when in fact a person is asked cold whether or not Mitt Romney’s Mormon beliefs or religion will be a determining factor on whether or not they’re gonna vote for him, I maintain that an automatic “No” would be a lie for most middle class individuals. They simply have too much to lose by telling the truth. Namely themselves.