- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 18, 2014

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Big majorities of Americans - about seven-out-of-10 - say they would be comfortable voting for a presidential candidate who was Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, childless or single. There’s not much of partisan divide on that sentiment; Republicans, Democrats and independents offer similar opinions. So says a meticulous new Harris Poll released Tuesday, which is quick to point out that “issues” don’t rule the poll booth.

Specifically, the pollster asked respondents if they would vote for people representing certain demographics “if you thought he or she were otherwise qualified and more in alignment with your political views than their opposition.”

Partisan differences emerge in the findings, though.

Half of the overall public - 49 percent - would vote for a gay presidential hopeful, the poll said; 36 percent of Republicans, 61 percent of Democrats and 51 percent of independents agree with that. Bisexual candidates garnered similar numbers, with similar divides.

Almost half overall - 47 percent - said that they were fine with a Mormon candidate; 62 percent of Republicans, 37 percent of Democrats and 50 percent of independents agree.

Faith still plays a part in elections. If a White House hopeful were atheist or agnostic, 39 percent of Americans overall would consider voting for them - a sentiment shared by 25 percent of Republicans, 47 percent of Democrats and 42 percent of independents.

Another 34 percent would vote for a transgender candidate; 20 percent of Republicans, 46 percent of Democrats and 33 percent of independents agree.

And 28 percent of Americans would vote for a Muslim hopeful; 16 percent of Republicans, 38 percent of Democrats and 29 percent of independents agree.

‘It should be noted that when evaluating these hypothetical candidates, respondents were asked to assume each was qualified and in alignment with their own political views. It should be noted that while these questions give a good measure of the relative impact of different characteristics and backgrounds, they do not necessarily predict their real impact on voting behavior because such decisions are made based on a more comprehensive set of factors,” the research states.

The poll of 2,537 U.S. adults was conducted Aug. 13-18 and released Tuesday.

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