How Do Race and Religion Impact Elections?

Do race and religion color people's decision in the voting booth? A newly released poll by ABC News/Washington Post on race, religion, and politics suggests that when it comes to racial attitudes, the influence is significant.

It's more likely that sentiments against blacks hurt President Obama than unfavorable attitudes of Mormons hurt Mitt Romney.

Some 62 percent of nonblack registered voters polled said that blacks nowadays no longer experience racial discrimination. Those same people were more likely to vote for Mitt Romney by 2 percentage points.

Nonblack registered voters who believe African-Americans still experience injustices were more likely to vote for a Democrat. More than half of those folks said they support Obama. In the 2008 elections, blacks voted for Obama overwhelmingly. They will undoubtedly support him again this November.

The survey, conducted by Langer Research Associates, was done between July 5 and July 8. A national random sample of 1,003 adults, including those with landlines and cell phones, responded to the questionnaire. The margin of error was a plus or minus 4 percentage points

When it comes to religion, the voting preferences are less pronounced. To a lesser extent, the poll shows, negative views of Mormonism would cost Romney political support. About 30 percent of respondents had unfavorable views of Mormonism, while 38 percent said they viewed it favorably. Of those who viewed it unfavorably, 42 percent said they would still support him.

Still, the bias against a Mormon candidate has remained virtually the same since 1967, when Romney's father — former Michigan Gov. George Romney — ran for president. A separate June Gallup poll showed that 18 percent of the population said they would not vote for a well-qualified candidate who was Mormon.