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Catholic Vote Split Evenly Between Obama and Romney, Gallup Says, Went for Obama by Nine Points in 2008

by | May 4, 2012

By Dave Andrusko

More data from Gallup confirms that President Barack Obama’s standing with Catholics is deteriorating. Catholics make up almost one in four voters in the United States today.

Gallup’s daily tracking poll shows that Obama and pro-life Mitt Romney are tied at 46% each among Catholic registered voters. In 2008 Obama defeated John McCain convincingly among Catholics—54% to 45%.

Gallup’s numbers also reflect difference along ethnic lines and frequency of church attendance. For example, Romney leads Obama among Non-Hispanic white Catholics, 55%-38%, while Obama leads Romney among Hispanic Catholics, 70% to 20%.

The Non-Hispanic white Catholics are divided along levels of religiosity, according to Gallup’s Frank Newport. The very religious prefer Romney 62% to 32% and the moderately religious go for Romney 56% 34%, margins of 30 points and 22 points, respectively. As is the case elsewhere, Obama is ahead among the non-religious, 54%-40%.

Newport notes, “Catholics’ divided preferences at this point contrast with those of the largest religious group in the country, Protestants, whose support swings to Romney by 51% to 41%.”  He adds, “The split in Catholics’ preferences also differs from the choice among those who identify with another religion or no religion at all, a group that clearly supports Obama, by 58% to 33%.”

Obama’s advantage among Catholic voters in 2008 was crucial to his victory.

The Washington Post’s  Chris Cillizza and Rachel Weiner offer an intriguing take on the Gallup numbers. They wrote Wednesday

“Ask ten people to name the most critical swing voting bloc in the 2012 presidential election and you’re likely to get at least five — and maybe ten — different answers. But, new polling from Gallup suggests that it’s Catholics who could well be the best bellwether of whether President Obama or former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney will be elected president this November.”

They go on to note

“Catholics have historically been a Democratic-leaning constituency — the party can thank John F. Kennedy for that one — but in recent decades have become more of a toss-up voting bloc.

“The eight presidential elections reveal how up for grabs Catholics truly. The Republican nominee has carried Catholics four times, the Democratic nominee has carried Catholics four times. …

“Keep an eye on the Catholic vote between now and November. How it goes will tell you a lot about who is going to be the next president.”

With Obama’s HHS mandate drawing intense opposition from faith communities, especially Catholics, for its attacks on religious freedom, the prospects for the President improving his standing among those who take their faith seriously would seem to be slim and none.

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Categories: Politics