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  The surprise religious group that could decide Trump's fate
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ContributorKyle 
Last EditedKyle  Sep 13, 2020 07:30am
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AuthorAlex Thompson and Laura Barron-Lopez
News DateSunday, September 13, 2020 01:00:00 PM UTC0:0
DescriptionIn 2016, Mormons rejected Donald Trump in numbers unheard of for a Republican nominee — viewing the thrice-married, immigrant-bashing Republican as an affront to their values.

In 2020, the president is going all-out to change their minds — a little-noticed effort that could make or break him in Arizona and Nevada, home to more than a half-million Latter-day Saints combined. Joe Biden's campaign, sensing an unlikely opening for a Democrat, is also targeting Mormons in the pair of Western swing states.

Before Trump became the party standard bearer, Mormons had been among the most loyal GOP voters in the country. A 2010 Gallup survey found that “Mormons are both the most Republican and the most conservative of any of the major religious groups in the U.S. today.” But many Mormons found Trump blasphemous, and the Church itself made thinly veiled statements condemning the candidate’s rhetoric on immigration and religious freedom.

Mormon support for the Republican ticket dropped from 80 percent in 2004 and 78 percent in 2012, to 61 percent in 2016, even as most other Christians moved further to the right, according to Pew.

“I do think Trump in 2016 — there were questions among not just Mormons, but other communities of faith,” Ronna McDaniel, the chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, who is LDS, said in an interview.

If Trump can reach the level of support among Arizona’s 400,000-plus church members that earlier Republican nominees enjoyed, it would be worth tens of thousands of voters and a few extra points in the toss-up state.

“I think Mormons especially start looking at him as a different type of candidate than they did in 2016 because now he has a record,” McDaniel said, citing the president's stances on abortion and religious liberty. The Trump campaign added that it sees a potential LDS backlash against Democrats, given that church gatherings faced tougher lockdown restrictions than many other gathering places in s
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