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 country—something Romney is poised to capitalize on.
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 person’s 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.
(...) The church expressly forbids using these directories for non-religious purposes, but that doesn’t 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.
(...) 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 he’s 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 Iowa’s Christian home-school vote advanced its own grassroots efforts for Mike Huckabee largely independently of his campaign, there’s 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.