It’s possible that the overt anti-Mormonism expressed by Robert Jeffress and Bryan Fischer represents little more than frantic concern among the evangelical elite that the Republican nomination is in imminent danger of slipping into the hands of a heretic. As Sarah Posner pointed out over the weekend, last time around the anti-Mormonism was more discreet. When you’ve got the likes of Pat Robertson willing to accept Mitt Romney as the party’s Christian standard-bearer, it’s no wonder that the more excitable Christian Americanists find themselves on the anxious bench. In these economic hard times, the rank and file are going to be more concerned with choosing the candidate most likely to defeat Barack Obama, no?
Not likely. A few months ago, the Pew Research Center’s Carroll Doherty pointed out that white evangelicals are just as loath to vote for a Mormon now as they were back in 2007. Then, their reluctance to do so cost Romney the nomination. That, at least, was John Green’s and my conclusion, in an article that relied on a regression analysis of the state Republican primary returns–which, unfortunately, has escaped the notice of TPM. Of course, you never dip your toe into the same electoral river twice, and given the absence of a Huckabee or a McCain, Romney may well swim easily away with the nomination this time. But if, as Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council hinted, “values voters” coalesce around a single un-Romney, he will have his work cut out for him.