It may be a matter of perception, but at this point four years ago, there seemed to be a fair amount of discussion about Mitt Romney being a leading presidential candidate and a Mormon. This year, the topic just doesn’t seem to come up nearly as much.

So when the former governor says he expects this to be a non-issue for his candidacy, it seems like a reasonable prediction.

Mitt Romney said Friday he does not expect his Mormon faith to become a challenge in this election, and added that he thinks most voters prioritize other issues over religion.

“I addressed this last time around, had a speech on religion in America. … That’s sort of been put to bed for me,” Romney said on the Kilmeade & Friends show on Fox News Radio.

I hope that’s right. There are all kinds of problems with Romney’s presidential ambitions, but his personal faith shouldn’t be included on the list.

But over the weekend, the latest New York Times/CBS News poll included a question related to the subject, without mentioning any candidates’ names: “Do you think most people you know would vote for a presidential candidate who is a Mormon, or not?”

A 40% plurality said they believe people they know wouldn’t vote for a Mormon candidate, while only 35% said the opposite. (This was posed to all respondents, not just those likely to vote in a Republican primary, where attitudes may be different.) The numbers were roughly the same as a similar poll question four years ago.

I have no idea if this is going to matter, and I sincerely hope it doesn’t. But a poll result like that raises questions about whether this is an issue that lurks below the surface.

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.