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As we gear up for the presidential ellection a new poll has found that Americans want a religious president.

The new PRRI/RNS Religion News Survey, conducted by Public Religion Research Institute in partnership with Religion News Service, marks the start of PRRI’s efforts to track the role of religion in the 2012 Presidential Election.

Among all Americans, President Obama holds a slight edge over both Mitt Romney and Michele Bachmann in head to head matchups for the 2012 election.

  • Forty-four percent of Americans say if the election were held today they would vote for Obama compared to 36% who say they would support Romney. Obama’s lead over Bachmann is similar (45% to 37%).

Among those who identify with the Tea Party, Bachmann garners greater support than Romney in a matchup against Obama (78% and 71% respectively).

  • Among white evangelical Protestants, Bachmann leads Obama 60% to 17%, while Romney leads Obama 55% to 18%.

A majority (56%) of the public says it is very or somewhat important for a presidential candidate to have strong religious beliefs, regardless of whether those beliefs are the same as their own.

  • Majorities of every religious group say it is important that a presidential candidate have strong religious beliefs, including white evangelicals (73%), minority Christians (74%), white mainline Protestants (57%), and Catholics (57%).
  • More than 7-in-10 Republicans (71%) and those identifying with the Tea Party (72%) say it is somewhat or very important that a presidential candidate have strong religious beliefs, compared to 51% of Democrats.
  • Among those who say it is somewhat or very important for a candidate to have strong religious beliefs, both Romney and Bachmann hold an advantage over Obama (Romney vs. Obama: 43% to 36%; Bachmann vs. Obama: 44% to 38%)

Note: The survey was designed and conducted by Public Religion Research Institute. Results of the survey were based on RDD telephone interviews conducted between July 14, 2011 and July 17, 2011 by professional interviewers under the direction of Opinion Research Corporation. Interviews were conducted among a random sample of 1,012 adults 18 years of age or older living in private households in the continental United States. The margin of error for the survey is +/- 3.0 percentage points at the 95% level of confidence.

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