With the primary campaign all over but the shouting, the latest Gallup poll shows just how much Mitt Romney has to make up for his party's having thrown its lot in with conservative religion. For while very religious voters support him by a 17-point margin, 54-37, the non-religious support President Obama by almost twice as much, 61-30. And those in the middle, the moderately religious, back the president by 14 points, 54-40. No wonder that the smart guys in the GOP are terrified of having social issues in the states get out in front of economic ones.
Interestingly, Obama has is doing no worse on the religion front since 2008. Then, he lost Protestants to John McCain 45-54; now he's down to Romney by just five points, 43-48. Then, he won Catholics by nine points, 54-45; now, he wins them over Romney by six points, 51-45. Very religious Catholics prefer Romney over Obama by just four points, 50-46. Evidently the Catholic bishops tub-thumping about an Obama "war on religion" seems to be swaying their most loyal customers not at all.
What of Romney's Evangelical Problem? Gallup suggests that he does indeed have one. For where the Mormon GOP Nominee Presumptive draws the same amount of Catholic support as McCain won (45 percent), his support among Protestants is six points less (48/54)--and 10 points less (64/74) among "very religious non-Hispanic white Protestants"--those Gallup considers equivalent to white evangelicals. Romney's problem, then, is that even as he seeks to move to the middle to garner some of the less religious, he's going to have to work hard to solidify his so-called evangelical base.