Would-Be Trouble for a Candidate

In a follow-up question, among those who said they'd be less likely to vote for a Mormon, six in 10 said there's "no chance" they'd do so -- the equivalent of 18 percent of Americans saying they wouldn't vote for Romney solely because of his religion.

Reluctance to vote for a Mormon is broadly based, albeit highest among young adults and evangelical white Protestants. When asked, in an open-ended question, their reasons, most said they disagree with the Mormon religion, are unfamiliar with it, or -- in an echo of the Kennedy objections -- worry about influence of the church in politics.

Divorce, Smoking, Age -- Compunctions about voting for a 72-year-old, a smoker or a twice-divorced candidate also are broadly based. Concern about a twice-divorced candidate is higher among conservative Republicans, all Republicans and churchgoing white Protestants -- potential problems for Giuliani in a tight primary.

With a smoker, objections are highest among better-educated adults, Westerners and Republicans. And objections to an older candidate are somewhat higher among women than men (as well as among Giuliani supporters vs. McCain supporters).

Sex and Race -- Being a woman or an African-American, as noted, are as much an attraction as an impediment. In particular, 27 percent of blacks say they'd be more likely to vote for a black candidate, as do 19 percent of liberal Democrats and 17 percent of young adults. A woman candidate is most attractive to young women (37 percent of women under 30 say they're more likely to support a woman); blacks; liberal Democrats; young adults of any sex; and women of any age, particularly Democratic women.

Reluctance to vote for a black candidate peaks (at 13 percent) among Republican men; concerns about a woman candidate are highest among conservatives, Republicans and evangelical white Protestants.

As with people less likely to support a Mormon, this poll asked those less likely to support a woman why they felt that way. Most either say they didn't think a woman could do the job, or a man could do it better; among the rest, 15 percent specifically said they don't like Hillary Clinton.

Methodology -- This ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted by telephone Feb. 22-25, 2007, among a random national sample 1,082 adults, including an oversample of black respondents. The results have a three-point error margin. Sampling, data collection and tabulation by TNS of Horsham, Pa.

ABC News polls can be found at ABCNEWS.com at http://abcnews.com/pollvault.html.

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