Poll: Obama surges ahead among Catholic voters

President Obama’s support among Catholic voters has surged since June, according to a new poll, despite a summer that included … Continued

President Obama’s support among Catholic voters has surged since June, according to a new poll, despite a summer that included the Catholic bishops’ religious freedom campaign and the naming of Rep. Paul Ryan, a Catholic, as the GOP’s vice-presidential candidate.

On June 17, Obama held a slight edge over Mitt Romney among Catholics (49-47 percent), according to the Pew Research Center. Since then, Obama has surged ahead, and now leads 54-39 percent, according to a Pew poll conducted on Sept. 16.

Among all registered voters, Obama leads Romney 51-42 percent, according to Pew.

Obama and Romney are essentially tied among white Catholics, which some pollsters call the ultimate swing group.

On Monday (Sept. 24) Romney unveiled his Catholics for Romney Coalition, which includes numerous politicians, beer magnate Pete Coors and Princeton University intellectual Robert P. George. The Obama campaign also has a Catholic coalition.

From June 21-July 4, the U.S. Catholic bishops held a “Fortnight for Freedom,” with Masses, prayer groups and presentations in dozens of dioceses nationwide. The campaign was directed in part against an Obama administration mandate that requires some religious institutions, such as colleges and hospitals, to provide cost-free contraception coverage to employees.

John C. Green, an expert on religion and politics at the University of Akron in Ohio, said Obama’s surge among Catholic voters does not mean the bishops’ campaign was ineffective. But religious freedom is not the most salient issue for Catholics during an election dominated by economic concerns, he said.

“It’s not the issue that most middle-of-the-road Catholics are responding to,” Green said.

In mid-August, Romney named Ryan, a congressman from Wisconsin and lifelong Catholic, as his vice-presidential nominee. While many conservative Catholics cheered the move, Romney received no “Catholic bounce” from selecting Ryan, according to the Pew poll. Obama’s vice-presidential running mate, Joe Biden, is also Catholic.

Liberal Catholics, including some nuns, have chastised Ryan for using his Catholic faith to defend his GOP budget plan, which lowers taxes on the wealthy while cutting programs for the poor.

Among white evangelicals, another crucial religious constituency, Romney’s support has inched up since July, from 69 to 74 percent, according to the Pew poll, while Obama’s percentage declined.

Despite concerns that Obama’s support for same-sex marriage would alienate African-American Protestants, 95 percent still back Obama over Romney.

Obama also leads among Americans with no religious affiliation, 65-27 percent. Romney leads among Americans who attend worship services at least weekly, 51-42 percent.

The margin of error for the September survey of Catholic voters is plus or minus 5.1 percentage points, according to Pew.

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  • amelia45

    I am one of those Catholics who think Obama makes a better choice for president. In fact, after watching the Republican House and the minority Republicans in the Senate manipulate Senate rules – and watching what they do with the power they have – I am not voting for a single Republican this year who has any opposition what-so-ever.

    I do remember the Issa committee meetings, the Blount Amendment. I know that the Republican Party platform holds no options for abortion in the case of rape/incest or to save the life of the mother. I know the Republicans balk at the Violence Against Women bill because it includes protection specifically for gay women. I am watching 50-60 years of progress for women in this county unravel under a Republican on-slaught in state house and the federal government.

    I also do not think the bishops have it right on the “religious freedom” issue. What they want is the religious freedom to deny religious freedom to others. It doesn’t work that way – not a democracy.

    I also really do believe in the Church teachings of caring for the poor, the old, the children, the disenfranchised, the wounded, those in need. That is very much centered on what Jesus did and what he taught.

    Obama will not try to take us back to the 1950s.

  • Joe53

    Just in case you aren’t sure what Mitt Romney believes here are a few of his stances on the issues accompanied by some other statements that give you insight into the man…

    “The Massachusetts healthcare plan should be a model for the nation.” – Mitt Romney

    “Healthcare reform should be left to the states.” – Mitt Romney

    “The Arizona immigration policy is a good model.” – Mitt Romney

    “I didn’t really support the Arizona immigration policy.” – Mitt Romney

    “I was not responsible for what happened at Bain Capital.” – Mitt Romney

    “I was the sole shareholder, sole director, Chief Executive Officer and President of Bain.”

    – Mitt Romney

    “Let Detroit go bankrupt.” – Mitt Romney

    ”I’ll take a lot of credit for saving the auto industry.” – Mitt Romney

    “I believe Roe v Wade has gone too far.” – Mitt Romney

    “Roe v Wade has been the law for 20 years we should sustain and support it.”

    – Mitt Romney

    “I respect and will protect a woman’s right to choose.” – Mitt Romney

    “I never really called myself pro-choice.” – Mitt Romney

    “It was not my desire to go off and serve in Vietnam.” – Mitt Romney

    “I longed in many respects to actually be in Vietnam and represent our country there.”

    – Mitt Romney

    “I’m not trying to return to Reagan-Bush.” – Mitt Romney

    “Ronald Reagan is . . . my hero.” – Mitt Romney

    “I think the minimum wage ought to keep pace with inflation.” – Mitt Romney

    “There’s no question raising the minimum wage excessively causes a loss of jobs.”

    – Mitt Romney

    “I saw my father march with Martin Luther King.” – Mitt Romney

    “I did not see it with my own eyes.” – Mitt Romney

    “I would like to have campaign spending limits.” – Mitt Romney

    “The American people should be free to advocate for their candidates without burdensome limitations.” – Mitt Romney

    “I supported the assault weapon ban.” – Mitt Romney

    “I don’t support any gun control legislation.” – Mitt Romney

    And last but not least: “I stand by what I said, whatever it was.” – Mitt Romney

  • SunshinyNM

    The Catholic Church has a long history of championing the poor and downtrodden, and the Catholic Church in the United States in particular has a great record of work for social justice, racial equality and advocating for the elderly and disabled.

    Catholics voting for Obama — and for Democrats in general — seems logical.