Whether or not Team Romney should distance its candidate from matters of faith is a complicated question: complicated because many Christians consider Mormonism heretical, and also because presidential elections are ethnic-religious contests where minorities challenge convention and tribal rivals contend.

Catholics fear Protestants. Yankees distrust Southerners. Moralists denounce libertines. Always the schisms run deeper than economics. Rooted in the ethnic politics of group identity, cultural patterns endure.

Occasionally, nevertheless, outsiders become insiders. Below are six examples of presidential contenders who challenged the dominant culture in times of realignment, when the marginalized became mainstream. (Click on images to view full size.)

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The views and opinions expressed here are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect those of Boise State University, the Center for Idaho History and Politics, or the School of Public Service.