The Washington Post‘s Alec MacGillis wants you to know that Mormons support the Mitt Romney for President campaign. Mormons support him so much that they give him money — lots of money — and that may turn some non-Mormons off to Romney.
In an extensive article, MacGillis details the extensive giving that shocked nearly everyone over the weekend when it was announced that Romney had raised a whopping $21 million, partially on the pocketbooks of his fellow members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
MacGillis suggests that for Romney, the large sums of money are part blessing, part curse. The problem with the story’s thesis — as outlined in the headline “Mormon Base a Mixed Blessing for Romney” — is that the curse part of it is never really thoroughly explored:
As he vies for a place in the top tier of contenders for the Republican nomination, Romney is reaping enormous benefits from being part of a growing religion that has traditionally emphasized civic engagement and mutual support. Mormons are fueling his strong fundraising operation, which this week reported raising $21 million, the most of any Republican candidate. And they are laying the foundation for a potent grass-roots network — including a cadre of young church members experienced in door-to-door missions who say they are looking forward to hitting the streets for him.
“When Mormons get mobilized, they’re like dry kindling. You drop a match and get impressive results quickly,” said University of Notre Dame political scientist David Campbell, who is Mormon. “It’s almost a unique group in the way in which it’s organized at the local level and the channels through which mobilization can occur.”
But the intensity of this support has a potential downside as Romney tries to establish an identity separate from a religion still regarded warily by many Americans — a quarter of whom, polls suggest, do not want a Mormon president.
We know that many Americans do not want a Mormon president, and by golly if they wouldn’t want a Mormon president, then they certainly don’t want a bunch of them mobilizing like “dry kindling.” But why would his base add to that opposition? Is it because a presidential candidate’s base typically ends up in his administration in one form or another? Are Americans concerned that Washington will become saturated with Mormons?
The article rightly goes through the many signs that Romney has an extensive base of Mormon supporters, but the second half of the article’s premise — that this is something that will hurt Romney — is never fully explored. Perhaps we’re dealing with a false premise, or is it one that’s too touchy to explore?
As National Public Radio’s Brian Unger would say, it is one thing to say that “some people” are concerned about Romney’s Mormon base, but it’s another thing to find people who will say it.