Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints living in Utah who are Republican are less likely than Republicans nationally to view former president Donald Trump as a “person of faith,” and are more likely to say President Joe Biden is a person of faith, according to a new poll.
The Deseret News and polling firm HarrisX conducted a series of national surveys in late 2023 gauging U.S. voters’ perspectives on politicians’ faith. In an October poll, 53% of Republicans said Trump is a person of faith; in December, 62% of Republicans said he is.
But a new Deseret News/Hinckley Institute poll of Utah voters shows that Latter-day Saints in the state — even those who identify as Republicans — are much less likely to view Trump as a person of faith.
According to the poll, 35% of Utahns who identify as “very active” Latter-day Saints say Trump is a person of faith; among “very active” Latter-day Saints who are registered Republicans, that number grows to 41% — over 20 percentage points below the national Republican average. Among Republican Latter-day Saints who say they are “somewhat active” or “not active,” over half — 54% — say Trump is a person of faith.
Among the poll’s full sample — 801 registered Utah voters, regardless of religion or political affiliation — views of Trump’s religiosity are even lower, with 33% of respondents saying Trump is a person of faith. Less than half, 47%, said President Joe Biden is a person of faith; over three-fourths, 77%, said Sen. Mitt Romney is.
Utahns are more likely than Americans at large to see Biden and Romney as people of faith. In the national Deseret News/HarrisX poll, 41% of registered U.S. voters said Biden is a person of faith, and 43% said Romney is.
The Deseret News/Hinckley Institute poll was conducted from Jan. 16 to 21. The margin of error is +/- 3.02 percentage points.
Latter-day Saints have been a majority-Republican voting bloc for decades. But Trump’s rise was met with skepticism by many in the faith. In 2016, he finished third in Utah’s GOP caucus and fared worse in the general election than any Republican since 1992; in 2020, Biden outperformed any Democrat presidential candidate in the state since 1964.
In a 2023 poll conducted by the American Enterprise Institute, a majority of U.S. Latter-day Saints maintained a negative view of Trump, leading one AEI official to proclaim Trump’s Latter-day Saint support is “deteriorating.”
In addition to his campaign for the GOP presidential nomination, Trump is facing a series of legal challenges, including 91 criminal charges. Last week, a jury ordered Trump to pay $83.3 million for defaming author E. Jean Carroll, who accused Trump of sexually assaulting her.
Nonetheless, in the January Deseret News/Hinckley Institute poll, 39% of Utah Republicans who identify as “very active” Latter-day Saints say they’d vote for Trump if the GOP primary election were held today. Another 27% say they’d back Nikki Haley and 16% are undecided. (Eighteen percent say they would back Ron DeSantis; the poll was conducted shortly before DeSantis dropped out.)
Utahns views on Romney and Biden as men of faith
Utah Republicans who identify as “very active” Latter-day Saints are also much more likely than Republicans nationally to say Biden and Romney are people of faith. Among Utah GOP Latter-day Saints, 35% say Biden is a person of faith, compared to 13% of Republicans nationally; 85% say Romney is a person of faith, compared to 34% nationally.
Among all Utah Latter-day Saints regardless of political party, those figures are comparable: 41% say Biden is a person of faith, and 85% say Romney is.
Biden is a Catholic. According to Ryan Burge, an assistant professor of political science at Eastern Illinois University, Biden is the “most religiously active president we’ve had in generations.” According to publicly available data, Biden has attended Sunday church services more in the first three years of his presidency than any president in recent history.
Romney is a Latter-day Saint. He served a proselytizing mission as a young man to France, and he served as a bishop and stake president in Massachusetts. “My faith is at the heart of who I am,” Romney said in a speech on the Senate floor in 2020.
Trump was the first U.S. president since Dwight Eisenhower to change his religious affiliation while in office. Though he was raised Presbyterian, Trump now identifies as a nondenominational Christian.
Trump boasts massive support from evangelical Christians, who make up a significant portion of the Republican electorate. Many evangelicals credit Trump for nominating three conservative justices to the Supreme Court who overturned Roe v. Wade.
“No president has ever fought for Christians as hard as I have,” Trump said at an event in June. “I got it done, and nobody thought it was even a possibility.”