09/06/2007 - So far religion is not proving to be a clear-cut positive in the 2008 presidential campaign. The candidates viewed by voters as the least religious among the leading contenders are the current frontrunners for the Democratic and Republican nominations - Hillary Clinton and Rudy Giuliani, respectively, according to a new poll released by Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. On the other hand, the candidate seen as far and away the most religious - Mitt Romney - is handicapped by this perception because of voter concerns about Mormonism.
As in the past, most Americans continue to say that it is important for a president to have strong religious beliefs. And voters who see presidential candidates as religious express more favorable views toward those candidates than do voters who view them as not religious.
But the latest survey finds that candidates for the White House need not be seen as very religious to be broadly acceptable to the voting public. Among people who offer an opinion of the religiosity of leading Democrats, more say that John Edwards (28%) and Barack Obama (24%) are very religious than say the same about Hillary Clinton (16%). Yet wide majorities see all three as at least somewhat religious, and those who do view the candidates in overwhelmingly favorable terms.
View Clinton and Giuliani Seen as Not Highly Religious; Romney's Religion Raises Concerns on Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life's Web site.