Skip to comments.Mitt's Mormon Army: How It Works
Posted on 02/04/2012 6:53:17 AM PST by 2ndDivisionVet
Very, very good e-mail lists and an internal debate over whether to use them. I'm getting really tired of the ads for Romney campaign trips coming from this list serve, writes one young Mormon.
LAS VEGAS, Nevada -- At Mitt Romneys first rally here earlier this week, there were plenty of hints that the enthusiastic crowd of 1,000 was stacked with Mormons. Kids walked around in BYU sweatshirts, moms chatted about LDS youth groups, and at least one supporter was overheard talking about making phone calls for the candidate as part of "family home evening" -- a weekly family night the church encourages its members to hold.
But while it's no secret that Romney's coreligionists have swelled the ranks at campaign stops from Des Moines to Reno, one question about the Mormon vote has gone largely unanswered this primary season: How, exactly, have they gotten so organized?
"We heard about it from some friends in our [LDS] ward," said one woman standing outside a rally held in a Las Vegas hotel supply warehouse. "We're so glad we could make it." Another Mormon standing nearby chimed in, "Everyone we know is voting for Mitt!"
The secret to the grassroots success lies, in part, in the unique national structure and scrupulous record-keeping of the Utah-headquartered Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. While the church itself is politically neutral, it contains the structural groundwork for one of the most organized and effective voting blocs in the countrysomething Romney is poised to capitalize on.
Heres how it works
In contrast with most other religions in the country, the Mormon Church is nationally organized in a strict, top-down fashion, like a corporation. Every congregation in the U.S. reports back to church headquarters in Salt Lake. Whenever an individual is baptized -- either as a child or as a convert -- local ministers take down the persons name, address, phone number, and e-mail address, and feed the information into a national database maintained by officials in Salt Lake (and only accessible to certain church leaders).
From there, the individuals are assigned to geographically-determined congregations -- or wards -- of about 200-300, which they attend on Sundays. Their contact information is filtered into a local ward list, which is distributed to all local congregants for planning purposes--from coordinating Sunday school, to working out the logistics for church barbeques.
For decades, these ward lists were printed out and distributed after Sunday services, but in recent years the system has migrated online to LDS.org, where Mormons create logins to access the contact information for every fellow believer in the area.
For active Mormons, wards often become the center of their social universe: its not uncommon for members to visit their local chapels three or four times a week for various activities and meetings. Additionally, Mormons participate in home and visiting teaching programs, which require them to visit certain ward members on a monthly basis. In this context, ward lists become invaluable tools for Mormons daily lifeinevitably finding their way into Google groups, listservs, and cell phones.
They also frequently become political tools.
Working the wards
The church expressly forbids using these directories for non-religious purposes, but that doesnt deter many politically active Mormons from working their ward lists to get out the vote. Reports abound of members blasting out congregational e-mails soliciting support for partisan causes and candidates. One Southern California ward received several e-mails urging congregants to vote for an LDS politician running for local office. And in nastier example of the practice, ward lists in Alpine, Utah were used to spread an anonymous smear campaign against a candidate on the eve of a local election.
Several Mormons told BuzzFeed that as the 2012 primaries heated up, they started to see their fellow congregants use ward lists to organize local efforts for Romney.
Here in Nevada, Ryan Erwin, a consultant for the Romney campaign, acknowledged that the candidate has benefitted from grassroots efforts by Latter-day Saints, and said the campaign is proud of their support. But he also thinks the Mormon factor has been overstated.
Mormons make up seven percent of the population here, Erwin said. If you read some of the reports in the media, youd think it was 90 percent its a little aggravating when youve worked for months to build up an organization and then they say, Well, he just won it because hes a Mormon.
That said, exit polls in 2008 showed that about 25 percent of Nevada caucus-goers self-identified as Mormon -- and Romney won that primary handily. This time around, polling indicates that hes headed for a similarly dominant victory, and if it happens, local Latter-day Saints will no doubt deserve a chunk of the credit.
Much like how Iowas Christian home-school vote advanced its own grassroots efforts for Mike Huckabee largely independently of his campaign, theres no evidence that Team Romney is officially coordinating with Mormon congregations. But anecdotal evidence suggests that a highly motivated base of Mormon supporters has effectively taken advantage of the LDS infrastructure to help Romney.
The Colonial First Ward listserv
One of the most illustrative examples is the Colonial First Ward listserv, which consists of more than 3,500 D.C.-area Mormons, many of them young and single.
E-mails obtained by BuzzFeed show the listserv being used frequently as a recruiting tool for Romney supporters -- gathering signatures to get the candidate on the Delaware ballot, requesting volunteers to aid the campaigns Illinois operation, and organizing a get-out-the-vote trip to South Carolina on the weekend of the primary.
The fruits of that last effort were obvious on the ground in Columbia, S.C., where dozens of young Mormon students from Virginia and D.C. were found rallying for Romney at various campaign stops.
But not everyone on the listserv has looked kindly upon efforts to transform the network into a booster club for Romney, and a number of members have e-mailed complaints.
Matt Larsen, a member of the listserv, wrote last October: I know Im probably going to make enemies here, but Im getting really tired of the ads for Romney campaign trips coming from this list serve. The disclaimer at the bottom of every list serve email states very clearly: Items that will not be posted/that will be removed include: promoting your business, promoting political ideologies, and inflammatory comments and rhetoric.
The protests appear to have been ignored though, with members continuing to send out e-mails as recently as last month that requested volunteer help for Romney.
The Colonial First Ward listserv seems to be a miraculous pro-Romney organizing tool, grumbled one D.C.-area Mormon, who is a Democrat. Whenever you get the contact information for 3,540 young Mormons in one place, I guess it has to be.
The other hypocrites I love here are the ones here who start accusing those of us who point out the truth about Mormonism and the reason we take issue with voting for a Mormon and start lecturing us about the freedom of religion as if we sit oin the doors of every Mormon temple and stop their members from attending Church.
Funnier still is that they themselves in trying to "shame" us into silence are in many ways attempting (miserably)to impede our right to practice our faith which tells us to point out false teachers and use our moral conscience to guide our Earthly decisions.
Really rather funny...
I could give a flying -— what you believe. When romney exposes innocents kids to trash like he has, he will have to answer to God for that.
It must be scary to wonder what you god will want you to believe tomorrow.
THE ONE TRUE GOD WHO NEVER CHANGES.
Sounds like Provo. I remember hearing talk about bigfoot at the “Y”. I thought it was weird even then but some of the other students were dead serious about what you posted.
I’m really sorry. I misread that. I’m just really mad because I have a lot homeschools in my family and friends. If you seen what I saw you would understand. This is way out of line. I wish Rick knew what romney is doing, kids are seeing.
While we may care, the mormons can always revert to “No,No,No NO, we’re NOT a church, we are a cult”. That should satisfy the gov., right? rofl
I think that is a gross understatement.
will like the eighty-year old Sunday School Ladies Christmas Tea ...
compared to what the News Media will do with this information. "
not trying to give libs ammo
but all Zero has to do when he debates Romney
is open with a sucker punch "well, mitt, are you riding in on your White Horse to remove the Mark of Cain from the white house?"
then, while Romney has a moment of vocal epilepsy, follow with a straight left "what's the matter? is it difficult for you to debate one as 'black and loathesome' as myself?" pause, right cross "you know, some people would complain i'm not black enough, but not Bishop Romney...according to his faith, my lighter skin means God approves of me more than my darker brothers and sisters..."
and turn to the moderator and deliver the knockout uppercut: "i think our nation is going through a period of trial that has exacerbated racial divides, and the last thing this nation needs are leaders who believe black people are under a curse from God...frankly, the idea of a man entering into the highest office in the land, who can look at innocent children like my two daughters, and believe they are cursed because of the color of their skin, sickens me. it's a clear illustration of the innate racism of the republican party and just how far the radical right will go to destroy the successes this administration has achieved because they want a leader to replace the curse of having a black man in the office of the president...i am appalled..."
sorry if it hurts, but if i'm half toked and can strategize this easily, the dimlibs will figure it out in a few months...
“Your views are anti-Christian and anti-American since you seem to want to silence my right to freedom of religion, freedom of conscience and freedom of speech. Not conservative at all.”
Quite and interesting defense against the indefensible.
You forgot that I like to kick puppies, and steal ice-cream from babies.
Please don’t ping me to this stale thread anymore. All the points have been made that are going to be made, and your attempt to remake your position to seem less offensive to American values are disingenuous.
IDK RFE - go back and read some of your posts perchance.
“IDK RFE - go back and read some of your posts perchance.”
Like which one?
knock your self out buddy, just about any one will do it.
“knock your self out buddy, just about any one will do it.”
No, if you’re complaining about them, you pick. which one represents what the previous poster indicated?
You are kidding? Right?
Look around, there are many more around here who agree with me than with you. You seem to be the only one who is offended. Why is that? Because you support Mittens or because you are realizing your claim is wrong and unconstitutional.
I call it as it is, you are claiming I am anti-American yet you are the one trying to silence us.
Fail on your part, big time.