Southern Whites Troubled by Romney’s Wealth, Religion

Margot Roosevelt, Reuters, September 11, 2012

Sheryl Harris, a voluble 52-year-old with a Virginia drawl, voted twice for George W. Bush. Raised Baptist, she is convinced—despite all evidence to the contrary—that President Barack Obama, a practicing Christian, is Muslim.

So in this year’s presidential election, will she support Mitt Romney? Not a chance.

“Romney’s going to help the upper class,” said Harris, who earns $28,000 a year as activities director of a Lynchburg senior center. “He doesn’t know everyday people, except maybe the person who cleans his house.”

She’ll vote for Obama, she said: “At least he wasn’t brought up filthy rich.”

White lower- and middle-income voters such as Harris are wild cards in this vituperative presidential campaign. With only a sliver of the electorate in play nationwide, they could be a deciding factor in two southern swing states, Virginia and North Carolina.

Reuters/Ipsos polling data compiled over the past several months shows that, across the Bible Belt, 38 percent of these voters said they would be less likely to vote for a candidate who is “very wealthy” than one who isn’t. This is well above the 20 percent who said they would be less likely to vote for an African-American.

{snip} Virginia airwaves are saturated with Democratic ads hammering Romney’s Cayman Islands investments and his refusal to release more than two years of tax returns.


A former private equity executive with a net worth of some $250 million, Romney vehemently disputes insinuations that he has paid less taxes than required by law. {snip}

The GOP nominee’s lucrative business career, which he touts far more than his record as governor of Massachusetts, does resonate with many Southern conservatives. “I don’t like to see the wealthy punished for their success,” said Cory Beaver, 26, as he waited on customers at a Lynchburg restaurant. “Obama leans toward socialism.”

Romney’s opposition to gay marriage and his commitment to reversing the Supreme Court’s decision granting women the right to abortion also gain him more support in the Bible Belt than in other regions of the country.


Focusing on 11 states from Virginia and North Carolina to Texas and Oklahoma, the Reuters/Ipsos polling project canvassed 8,690 people in households with incomes under $55,000 a year—just above the U.S. median.

Non-Hispanic whites in this bracket have skewed Republican for more than three decades, and they prefer the GOP nominee to Obama by 46 percent to 29 percent. However, as Romney launches a post-convention ad blitz, those numbers could signal trouble for his campaign. Strategists in both parties figure that to offset the president’s expected landslide among an expanding electorate of blacks and Hispanics—Obama won 80 percent of minority votes in 2008—Romney must garner more than 60 percent of the white vote overall.

In Virginia, polls show the candidates virtually tied. The state’s 5.9 percent unemployment rate, well below the 8.1 percent national average, works in Obama’s favor. Overall, 35 percent of the electorate is black, Hispanic or Asian.


At Liberty’s May commencement, Romney, a Mormon, sought to stake out common ground with fundamentalist Christians. Without directly mentioning the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, as the Mormon church is formally known, he told the crowd of 34,000: “People of different faiths, like yours and mine . . . can meet in service, in shared moral convictions about our nation stemming from a common worldview.”

According to Reuters/Ipsos polling data, however, 35 percent of voters overall, and the same proportion of lower- and middle-income white Bible Belt voters, say they would be less likely to vote for a candidate who is Mormon.

Many evangelicals who would normally vote Republican say they view Mormonism as a cult.

Several of those interviewed in Lynchburg were devotees of the TV series “Big Love” and “Sister Wives,” about polygamous Mormon families. They were unaware that the Mormon Church long ago renounced polygamy.

“Mormons don’t believe like we believe,” said Dianna McCullough, a retired factory worker, as she tossed salad in a Tree of Life Ministries soup kitchen. “Like the wives—Romney’s probably got more than one.”

Still, she is undecided in the election. “The gay marriage thing hurts Obama,” she said. “It’s Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.”


Four years ago, almost a quarter of voters identified themselves as white Protestant evangelicals in exit polls. Obama won only a quarter of them. This year, many passionately want to defeat him.

In a survey conducted this summer by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion and Public Life, almost a third of Republicans said they believe Obama is Muslim, compared with 16 percent of independents and 8 percent of Democrats. The falsehood is a frequent theme of conservative talk radio.

Still, the challenge for the GOP is to ensure that white evangelicals, most of whom voted for other candidates in the primary, are sufficiently enthusiastic about Romney to make it to the polls.


Among low- and middle-income white Bible Belt voters, 21 percent in the Reuters/Ipsos polling data said they are uncertain they will vote in the presidential election. That’s not much more than the 17 percent of other respondents who were uncertain. But in a group that leans Republican, it could be enough to hurt Romney.


According to the Reuters/Ipsos data, 35 percent of the white Southern group saw Romney as having a “better approach” to taxes, while 25 percent thought Obama does.

Paradoxically, the same group agreed by more than 4 to 1 with the statement: “The wealthiest Americans should pay higher taxes,” which is Obama’s campaign theme.


Overall, 54 percent of Americans—and a decisive 69 percent of white low- and median-income Southerners—opposed Obamacare, according to the Reuters/Ipsos data. But when asked about specific parts of the law, the results largely favored the president.

Both groups opposed the provision that would require them to buy health insurance. However, by more than 2 to 1, both supported making businesses with more than 50 employees offer insurance and forcing insurance companies to cover people with preexisting conditions.


A Romney ad asserts that “Under Obama’s plan, you wouldn’t have to work and wouldn’t have to train for a job. They just send you a welfare check.” Independent fact-checkers say the ad distorts the administration’s plan to give states more flexibility on work rules—a request that came from Republican governors.

In Lynchburg, however, it resonates with some white conservatives. At the Modern Barber Shop on Main Street, where the Ten Commandments are displayed in the window, a group of retirees chatted about the election on a recent morning.

“I don’t believe in free handouts,” said Robert McCanna, a former accountant. “Obama is pitting blacks against whites.”

Retired truck driver Lyle Campbell interjected, “If I was black, I would get anything I want.”


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  • Puggg

    On the one hand, southern whites are suspicious of Mormons and rich people.

    On the other hand, Obama is black.

    Romney wins.

  • Ulick

    Four days ago the Associated Press let us know that the Obama campaign will be putting on a full court press to try to win over working class whites (see article below), and now Reuters is telling us mere days later that working class whites prefer Obama to Romney.  I don’t believe that conclusion for a second.  This is essentially a campaign article (not based in truth) that is meant to create the illusion that working class whites favor Obama so that some unwitting working class whites will be fooled into thinking that voting for Obama is the working class white thing to do.

    “Romney, Obama pursue backing of working-class whites, key to swing states”

  • WmarkW

    Someone’s just trying to make a story where there isn’t one.  85% of Southern whites would never vote for Obama, so this story is as irrelevant as the ones about whether supporting gay marriage would hurt him among churchgoing blacks.

     There’s about 5% undecided suburban whites, who haven’t figured out yet which candidate will do better at creating jobs.  They’re the only voters worth watching the next eight weeks.

  • I saw an interesting bumper sticker: “I voted for Obama in 2008 to prove I’m not a racist. I won’t vote for him in 2012 to prove I’m not an idiot.”

    Romney was one of the top business consultants in the country while Obama didn’t even have the experience of running a lemonade stand when they gave him a shot a the presidency.

    Religion be damned this election is about common sense even though it is in short supply. Articles like these are pure liberal propaganda and it’s a shame so many people cannot think freely these days.

    If the incompetent, muslim loving, socialist, race baiting, divider-in-chief is re-elected, we are absolutely doomed. period.

  • ncpride

    Pure propaganda. I don’t believe a word of this nonsense. He won’t win NC this time around, and barely did last time.

  • I think there’s something to this. It is a real problem.  If you look up “Effete New England Snob” or “Yachting Type” in Merriam Webster’s, you’ll see a picture of Mitt Romney.  And his accent couldn’t be more divorced from a Southern cadence.

    Will it cause Southerners to vote for Obama?  No.  But it’s going to dim their enthusiasm for getting out and pounding the pavement.  

    The electorate doesn’t like candidates from New England.  They have proven time and time again … that they trust Southerners and Midwesterners.

  • Eagle_Eyed

    “Sheryl Harris, a voluble 52-year-old with a Virginia drawl, voted twice
    for George W. Bush. Raised Baptist, she is convinced—despite all
    evidence to the contrary—that President Barack Obama, a practicing
    Christian, is Muslim.”

    Pray, tell me when Obama practices his Christianity? 

  • Eagle_Eyed

    Yeah, this is pure propaganda.  Sure, some Southern whites view Romney as a big bad rich man, but unlike negros most whites don’t have a problem with others having success and understand that on actual issues–such as abortion, guns, immigration, and socialist health care Romney is at least the lesser of two evils.

  • The American success narrative has been turned on its head.

    We used to taught to admire people who ‘made it’ and were encouraged to learn from their success and emulate them.

    No more.

    Now we’re taught to hate the rich and successful. A ‘community organizer’ how has a higher social statues than does a successful businessman.

  • Defiant White

    This is propaganda and I don’t buy it.  A lot of northeast whites voted for the negro in 2008 and I suppose a lot of pro-union whites in the South did too.  But the notion that A VAST MAJORITY OF “Southern whites are troubled” by anything except Obama and his long-armed partner in crime is ridiculous.

  • Sounds like Sheryl Harris is getting BBC on the side.

  • AmericanTaxPayerNoMore

    No Real Southerner would ever, NEVER Vote for a non-white.  They just don’t.  The South I grew up in knew that non-whites are not capable of running anything and we knew that non-whites and Whites are just different and we never allowed a non-white to be in control of us.

    Something is very very wrong in The South.  They’ve been poisoned.

  • anmpr1

    First, polls can only be interpreted by understanding the nature of the questions, and often the questions are designed to elicit certain responses.  I am not impressed.

    Second, living in the South, I can tell you that it is not a man’s money that is important.  It is how he earned the money that counts.  A Southern businessman who has earned wealth through his own efforts is held in high esteem, unlike, say, a Kennedy.

    Both Obama’s and Romney’s religion is questionable to many Southerners who instinctively wonder about the non-traditional aspect of the two.   In this they are probably close to even, with the edge to Romney.

    I’ve seen Obama getting some sympathy traction from certain Southern Whites who are fed up with Israel dictating America’s foreign policy.  But the evangelical Christians who agree with an Israel first policy are very smitten with Romney.  At the same time, most all White Southerners are unhappy with the domestic policy flowing from this group of people, and Obama whole heatedly is in lock step with that agenda.  So in this area, in spite of the differences, I give Romney the edge.

    On the whole, Romney’s Hispandering is a big loser for White Southerners, and they see little difference between him and Obama in this regard.  Here it is a tie between the two.

    Generally, most Southern Whites believe Romney would be better for the economy, but only because it is probably difficult to be as bad as Obama in this area.  Advantage Romney.

    So Romney should be the winner.  However, all in all, with certain exceptions, Romney is not generating much enthusiasm.  This is very troublesome news for Republicans.  Given Obama’s horrible handling of the realm, almost anyone should be able to beat the Democrat.  The fact that the two are neck and neck is quite telling.  If Florida (not really a Southern state) goes for Romney, he may win the electoral collage tally.  If Florida goes for Obama, Romney is probably toast.

  • Epiminondas

    Anyone who thinks Romney will be an advantage over Obama is smoking crack.  He will be even more liberal than the Bush family.  He will be hostile to conservative Southerners (I doubt if he even knows any), and he will do little or nothing to help slow the growth of government.  His father, George, was a civil rights crazed cabinet officer under Nixon.  Romney will be the most liberal Republican since Nelson Rockefeller…IF he gets elected.  So if you’re afraid of what Obama is likely to do with the supreme court, you needn’t be.  Romney will be just as bad.

    • FedUp

      No, he won’t.  He’s at least WHITE.  Therefore he will NOT sign on to the extermination of the white race.  Obama IS all about the extermination of the white race.  You don’t see Romney sucking up to the New Black Panthers.  Obama wants to make those retarded thugs his private civilian army.  If he gets another four years, he will do just that.  Will Romney be as bad on immigration as Bush?  Yes.  Will he be as liberal in some ways as Bush?  Yes.  Is he just as bad as Obama?  Obama is unadulterated evil.  Is a weak sinful man just as bad as the Prince of Darkness?  No.  You can gripe all you want about Romney and our being stuck with him.  If you’d rather be stuck with Obama and truly see no difference between them, then you have no eyes to see at all.

    • jackryanvb

      Oh shut up. What an idiotic statement. Think Romney will appoint a white hating attorney general,like Eric Holder or a New Yawk lesbian like Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court?

      Wow we sure get many stupid comments on Amren these days.

      • Puggg

         Republicans are a crap shoot on that.   You could get Scalia or Alito, or you could get Souter or Benedict Roberts.  But with Democrats, you get obnoxious intellectually dishonest left wingers and “Wise Latinas” all the time.

    • CharlesFinley

      No, it’s barry soetoro who smokes weed and snorts coke.  I have no doubt he smoked (s) crack, too.  Anyone who thinks Mr. Romney will be as bad as little barry soetoro is in FULL FLIGHT FROM REALITY.

  • jackryanvb

    We need to get these Southern White Baptists to stop worrying so much about wealthy White Latter Day Saints with investments in the Cayman Iskands. These Whites in the South need to go to the Cayman Islands and meet some nice, White Mormons and then go to near by Haiti and live and die with poor Blacks.

    Wow, we have lots of stupid White people living in our country, not just in the South.

  • And the attacks on success continue even here.

    •  There is no attack on Romney, because the notion that he is simply a profiteer and not a traditional businessman is pretty accurate. Romney is no Hank Rearden.

      • To paraphrase another poster, stop getting your intel from The Daily Show.
        Bain help and saved many struggling companies and kept thousands of people employed.
        That a couple businesses that were poorly run, inefficient, and unsaveable were lost along the way happens.
        If I was employed by a business that Bain closed because it couldn’t be saved, I would be angry at my employer and Bain.
        But not all businesses are going to succeed even with outside capital investment.
        I’m not going to crucify Mr. Rommey because a couple companies out of thousands didn’t make it. That’s simply the nature of businesses.
        Some businesses fail while others succeed. This Bain bashing is grasping at straws and only goes to show how anti-business and ignorant the left is of basic business practices.

        •  I don’t watch The Daily Show. The assertion was that Romney was/is not a traditional businessman. I completely agree with that.

          You comments about Bain have nothing to do with what was being stated.

          By the way, I greatly admire the thoughts of Milton Friedman and Ayn Rand on economics. That means I couldn’t be more over-the-top pro-capitalist/pro-business if I tried. So the whole anti-business stuff isn’t going to work on me.

  • JohnEngelman

    Imagine how much better the whole country would be. Imagine the downtown areas of our once proud cities as centers of civilization like they used to be. They would be known for theaters, book stores, museums, atmospheric restaurants, taverns and coffee houses. People could walk home after dark without risking their lives.  

  • Dean_Wormers_Hot_Wife

    See the results when self righteous Yankee abolitionists up north turn their backs on their pet Diversity-

    • TeutonicKnight67

       Don’t be so harsh on your Yankee brethren. We have NEVER bought into the abolitionist/equality myth. That was a product of effete intellectuals not the masses. Just look at the 1863 Draft Riot in NYC and you will see what I mean. No Paddy in his right mind wanted to free Darkies so they could supplant him as cheap labor after the war. The Northeast still has the most segregated neighborhoods to this day.

      As far as the “civil rights” of the 60’s goes, well….there was some token participation by real whites but we all know it was fomented by the Tribe and its leftist fellow travellers.

  • MrGJG

     Stop getting your news from Huffington post.

  • RisingReich

    Another nail in the coffin of the Stupid Party.
    Good riddance.

    • Sherman_McCoy

      American Third Position, all the way!

  • Dean_Wormers_Hot_Wife

    Rubbish. This article is just aimed at discouraging White voters from earning the benefit of joining together and doing the right thing by voting agaisnt the black.

    • Sherman_McCoy

      Obviously.  The disinformation program of the Dim-ocrats is disgusting.  Almost as disgusting at their platform.  Which is almost as bad as the Repukelicans’.  

      I find it sadly amusing when I listen to both pots calling the kettle black.

      Globalization (which means replacing your own people with cheap foreign labor).  (Non-white) Immigration (which means replacing your own people with cheap imported foreign labor).  Egalitarianism (which outlaws meritocracy and common sense measures for compensating for obvious racial differences).  

      These three things are at the root of all our current distresses, and neither party will do the slightest to remedy was really ails us.

  •  If he’s done everything “right,” then why does the man flip-flop so much? I guess it’s easy to do things right when you can change your direction whenever it fits your political agendas.

    I’m embarrassingly amazed at how easily duped the American voters are when it comes to election time. It doesn’t matter what empty suit the string-pullers put on display, people always forget the past elections and lies and believe this time it’s gonna be real.

  • NorthernWind

    Who cares? It’s not like either one of the two major candidates will do anything substantial about America’s problems.

  • Stan_Mute

    Dumb also would be a white thinking that casting a vote for the man in the magic underpants will make one whit of difference for him or his family or his progeny. Neither Demonrat nor Repugnantcon candidate will change the simple fact that America’s debt load is completely unsustainable. An increase in interest rates to historically moderate levels of say 8-10% would mean our interest payments on public debt alone would exceed tax revenue. So government would have zero money (without borrowing more) for a single program.

    The fact is the USA will have to default. That default will cause upheaval unimaginable to the average joe sixpack sitting his couch yelling at his tv for his favorite team of African Americans throwing a ball or running with a ball. No food in the grocery market. No jobs. No jobs at all. Anywhere. Complete reliance on the national guard to distribute food from farmers to starving city dwellers. It will be very very ugly and there is zero chance of avoiding it. We have more people today who receive more government dollars and benefits than they pay in taxes. Who here thinks that ratio will improve without chaos?

    •  It might be a really good time to be a racially conscious farmer, or at least know one.

      It might be a really good time to be a racially conscious man or woman with a valuable trade or skill, or at least willing to learn one.

      It might be a really, really good time to learn to network and become an extension of a white, racially conscious America.

      The people who will suffer the most are the ones who are currently attached to the system and don’t have the fortitude and/or foresight to realize that the ship is going down no matter what puppet is in office.

    • Bad_Mr_Frosty

      That, along with the horrendous violence the ethnic gangs will unleash, will be White America’s wake-up call. I’m optimistic, things are going to get really, really bad way before Whites become a minority. We need to feel we are under attack in our own country, that is the only thing that will rally White America. May the “food stamp riots” be our Pearl Harbor moment.

  • Stan_Mute

    But Mitt Romney, who has never known the slightest sacrifice in his life, will be our savior in the magic underpants? He will prevent the riots that will probably ensue if the African president is kicked out of office? He will use his magic underpants to refill the US treasury? He will wave his magic underpants at the thirty million illegals living here and scare them into going home?

    Wow! This Mitt Romney is some really crazy powerful dude that he can fix this country.

    Except most adults with IQ’s over 100 know that we are past the point of fixing. The price of fixing us is simply too high for the majority to accept and so we will ride this runaway freight train until we run out of track.

    The only reason we aren’t there yet is that Europe is in just as bad shape and global capital has no better place to go. Add a few trillion more in debt while Russia and China figure out how to trade in their own currencies (or stockpile enough more gold as they are doing now). Very soon we will see treasury bond sales with no buyers at all except the federal reserve. We will begin making interest payments (only) with borrowed money and within a few months the whole house of cards and underpinnings of our economy come tumbling down.

    Yeah, but the man with the magic underpants will save us. Right. Woohoo! Vote Romney!

    • LaSantaHermandad

      I’m not thrilled with Romney although I’m sure that he’s a good man but perhaps you’d like to suggest an alternative. I considered voting for Ron Paul but that will serve to ensure the election of BHO. 
      The greatest problem that we face is the racial issue and with the exception of blogs like AMREN there is no mention of it anywhere in the MSM.  No one wants to face the truth. If the economy improves there will still be flashmobs, murders, gang rapes regardless of whom is elected. White people are slowly being marginalized and written off. You can see it in the media, advertising, movies and in the major collegiate and professional sports. Our educational system has done a masterful job in downgrading the importance of our national history. our founding fathers and our OWN importance. We have been pilloried and demonized for something that occurred hundreds of years ago and what we have now is a young generation of self loathing Whites who have adopted the culture of the Blacks. There’s a TV (reality show?) called “Hard Core Pawn”, about a Pawn Shop in Detroit. Anyone who wants a perfect example of what this country will be in another decade, if THAT long, needs to watch this show. It’s the most realistic exposé of Blacks that I’ve ever seen. It should be required viewing for White kids over ten years old. Language is bleeped but it’s easy to recognize “Mothuh F—ah” . The kids won’t need any coaching. They’ll be able to draw their own conclusions.

  •  Yep.  Pretty much!  A quite natural inclination but … pretty short-sighted.

  • NM156

    Romney is an open-borders, free-trade, globalist plutocrat looter. I honestly don’t know whether to vote for him just to contribute to the pie in the left’s big fat face of booting Obama or to sit at home and be counted as MIA by the traitorous GOP Inc. An economic calamity awaits, however, no matter which candidate is elected, which is good news for anyone waiting for openings to address our ongoing destruction.

  • The quality of this article: a solid piece of journalism, could have appeared in “Pravda” during Brezhnev’s era.

  • Bon, From the Land of Babble

    that President Barack Obama, a practicing Christian, is Muslim.

    He is neither; he worships Godless Big Government.

    So, “social Christian conservatives” in the South are bothered that Romney is a Mormon but have no problems with 0bama’s militant stance on state-funeded abortion and pro-gay marriage?

    I’m glad the media was able to set us straight.


  • Bon, From the Land of Babble

    Also from Reuters yesterday:

    (Reuters) – A small government-backed study strengthens the link between recreational marijuana use and testicular cancer in young men, U.S. researchers said Monday.

    They found people who said they had used the drug were twice as likely to have been diagnosed with the disease as were never-users. The link appeared to be specific to a type of tumor known as nonseminoma.


  •  You don’t delay a cancer treatment. Some people can’t comprehend that there will just be more infection and mutation to fight the longer the treatment is postponed.

  • Bad_Mr_Frosty

    How do you know your not being conformist by demonizing all cannabis smokers? “Drugs are bad and by condemning all drug users I’m proving my moral superiority” Caffeine is a drug, so is alcohol, even sugar can be considered a drug. I don’t know how your linking cannabis smoking with race treason, maybe you shouldn’t judge something you don’t understand.

  • CharlesFinley

    The Romneys of America are ALWAYS better than the communists of Kenya.

  • Sarge

    But the country is not hemorrhaging. It’s been poisoned by slow drip, and that poison has already reached toxic levels. The lethal dose has been administered, and the patient is on his deathbed. 

    Here’s what we’re faced with: greatly increasing the dose of poison that’s entering the dying patient’s system (Dr. Obama’s course of treatment) or increasing the dose of poison by a little less (Dr. Romney’s prescription). 

    The two treatments lead to the same results. 

  • KD_Did

    Many organizations invest money with Bain because of their history of solid returns. The least of which are not public employees unions who vilify the company. Ronmey has some idea of what works and why. 

  • If Southern whites are so put off by a candidate’s wealth, how is it that West Virginia voters keep re-electing Jay Rockefeller? Or North Carolina voters electing John Edwards to the Senate, years ago? He was no pauper.  

    • Puggg

      Because Obama knows he can’t win in a fair fight. His only hope is a two pronged approach:  One, try to excite Democrat loyalists with their pet issues, and two, try to depress people who would ordinarily vote Republican. This story is the media’s attempt to participate in prong number two. It’s so ridiculous, we know that Romney will win all the southern states that McCain won four years ago, at the very very very least.

  • Allan477

    If they are so afraid of wealth, what of Obama’s mansion in the Hyde Park section of Chicago.  Of course, the 24/7 police detail will not let you near enough to it to get a good picture.  The difference is that Romney made his money legally.