Catholic Voters Swing Away from the GOP

Back in 2004, exit polling indicated that George W. Bush carried the Catholic vote by a 52 percent to 47 percent margin, one of the keys to his successful reelection effort. In 2006, the Catholic vote swung to the Democrats, with Catholic voters backing Democratic congressional candidates by a 55 percent to 44 percent margin. Much of that swing came from Hispanic voters, who upped their support for the Democrats by 10 to 15 points; the White Catholic vote split 50 percent for the Democrats and 49 percent for the Republicans that fall according to exit polling. So will the Catholic vote continue to be split relatively evenly between the parties? New polling from the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University (.pdf) indicates that Catholic voters are less likely to identify as Republican today than they have been at any other point this decade.

According to the CARA poll, just 21 percent of Catholic voters -- just one in five -- self-identify as Republican, down 10 percentage points from 2004. When leaners are thrown in, the Democratic advantage among American Catholics is a remarkable 60 percent to 36 percent. Nearly seven in ten Hispanic Catholics (69 percent) either identify or lean towards identifying with the Democrats while just 29 percent do so with the Republicans. And White Catholics, who as noted above split almost exactly evenly in 2006, identify as or lean towards the Democrats by a 52 percent to 40 percent margin.

At present, it appears that much of the movement has been away from the Republican Party rather than towards the Democratic Party. While the Democrats' numbers have held strong, the Republicans' numbers among Catholics have simply tanked since President Bush won reelection. It is for this reason, among others, that some have mentioned the name Jack Reed, a progressive Senator from Rhode Island who happens to be of the Catholic faith, or other leading Catholic Democrats like Tim Kaine, Tom Daschle, John Kerry, Joe Biden, and Bill Richardson (Update [2008-6-23 23:54:9 by Jonathan Singer]: And don't let me forget Kathleen Sebelius, who is also Catholic, as well as Wes Clark), as a potential running mate for Barack Obama.

But regardless of whom Obama decides to tap to join him on the Democratic ticket in 2008, one thing is clear: the Democrats have a great opportunity to pick up a whole swath of votes from Catholic voters disenchanted with the Republican Party and would be well served working to cultivate votes among this demographic.

(You can check out more on the poll from Marc Ambinder.)

Tags: 2008, Catholic Voters, Catholics (all tags)

Comments

24 Comments

One thing about catholics...

A lot of them are serious pro-life, against the war and the death penalty and for helping the poor in any way possible.  

Abortion is a major, major issue, but it isn't the only one.  Republicans are wrong if they think they can keep Catholics based on that alone.

by libertyleft 2008-06-23 07:37PM | 0 recs
Re: One thing about catholics...

Yup.  The abortion and gay rights issues especially are sticking points preventing strongly adherent Catholics from voting democratic, but the Catholic Church's take on social justice is often closely aligned with a progressive worldview.  (cf. liberation theology, Jesuits.)  Anecdotally, among the christians I know, catholics are much more likely to be democrats than protestants.

(Full disclosure: I am a recovering papist educated K-12 in Catholic schools.)

by semiquaver 2008-06-23 09:32PM | 0 recs
Re: One thing about catholics...

The Jesuits are pretty much persona non grata in the Church right now... they are the progressive wing of the Church, and the group that I mostly associate with....

It really depends on the diocese and the individual parishes whether the parishioners are conservative or liberal in their voting.  I've been to some really fundie Catholic masses, and also some really, really liberal ones...  A lot of it has to do with the same demographics that we deal with in politics.

by LordMike 2008-06-23 10:06PM | 0 recs
personae non gratae,

if my Jesuit education has anything to say about 1st declension.

by semiquaver 2008-06-26 03:22AM | 0 recs
Al G called it first

and I will say it now.

I don't know who it will be but Obama will pick a Catholic to be his running mate.

Sebelius, Kaine, Clark, Biden and Richardson are probably the five most likely picks and all are Catholic.

I think we have a great chance to win the Catholic vote back in 08.

Also I would extend that prediction to a Catholic with executive experience since I seriously doubt Biden will be picked.

by Populista 2008-06-23 07:43PM | 0 recs
Reed is an intriguing dark horse...

Drawbacks being he might be too easily portrayed as far-left, advantages being catholicism, military background and the fact that he is indeed quite liberal.

The liberal in me gravitates to Reed and Sherrod Brown from time to time... Brown would probably be the better pick for attacking Ohio...

fun dark horses... probably won't happen.

by Casuist 2008-06-23 07:49PM | 0 recs
Clark would not only help with Catholics

but he apparently comes from a long line of rabbis (or his birth father did anyway). When he was running for president, stories about that appeared in Jewish newspapers. It may seem trivial, but I think Clark would help Obama with Jews.

by desmoinesdem 2008-06-24 01:20AM | 0 recs
But he also

blamed "New York Money men" or something like that for pushing for a attack on Iran. So it's probably a mixed effect.

Clark would be a very solid VP pick.

by Populista 2008-06-24 08:53AM | 0 recs
Re: Catholic Voters Swing Away from the GOP

Assumes folks who are catholic would vote for anyone just because he/she is catholic .

I am Catholic/Irish and all of those names you have their won't move me one way or the other.

I have always found assumptions like these really offensive .

e.g. Put Sebelous on the ticket because she is a woman and she can assuage those Hillary Clinton supporters who are woman and are upset over her loss.

by lori 2008-06-23 08:04PM | 0 recs
Re: Catholic Voters Swing Away from the GOP

I am a lapsed Catholic here, and I agree that Catholics are not inclined to vote for or against someone because they are also Catholic.  But at the same time I think it is good to show that not all Catholics are like Scalia and Alito.  

by monkeyga 2008-06-23 08:32PM | 0 recs
Some are more like JFK

by semiquaver 2008-06-23 09:33PM | 0 recs
I think Sebelius would backfire badly

if the goal is to win over the women who supported Hillary in the primaries.

If that is Obama's main objective, he should pick Hillary.

by desmoinesdem 2008-06-24 01:21AM | 0 recs
Re: Catholic Voters Swing Away from the GOP

Pro-choice White Catholic for Hillary here.  Having a Catholic veep wouldn't sway me one way or another.  I'm voting for Obama no matter what.  The only two people who I think would make me work enthusiastically for Obama are Hillary and Wes Clark.  All the others on the standard lists are veritable political midgets and smack of being defensive choices in one way or another.

Bill Richardson has the resume but not the persona.  Actually, I'm not sure if Richardson ever had a persona though the recurring murmurs about a "zipper" problem indicate he has something going for him.

by InigoMontoya 2008-06-23 08:30PM | 0 recs
Richardson is funny

When I saw him in person he made a great impression with the crowd.

He didn't do well in the tv debates, though.

I think there is some personal issue that will keep Richardson off the ticket. Gore and Kerry both had him on their short list but passed him over, even though Kerry famously wasn't crazy about Edwards.

by desmoinesdem 2008-06-24 01:22AM | 0 recs
Is it just me...
Or are many of these posts seeming like some Scientology website?  
It's like- "Obama poised to win the South.  Obama winning over whites, blacks, latinos, women, AND men!  Obama winning Clinton supporter, McCain supporters, Mondale supporters too!
It just seems a little cultish to me.  Is everything REALLY good news?  I mean REALLY?  All I know is that if I wake up and McCain is somehow President- Jonathan Singer and Josh Orton got some SPAININ TO DO!!!!!!
by easyE 2008-06-23 09:01PM | 0 recs
Re: Is it just me...

haha; yeah, I think Obama is doing all right but some seem too optimistic.  I feel that his lead should be greater given Obama's outrageously good favorability ratings; he has almost a 2 to 1 favorable-to-unfavorable rating on average and yet only leads McCain by on average seven points?

by Blazers Edge 2008-06-23 09:48PM | 0 recs
Of course

The big elephant in the room (and I am not talking about the GOP) is race.   I think there are too many people over 60 who are still afraid to vote for a black man.

The other issue is political stagnation.  People get set on their party identification.   Because they have voted GOP in almost every election since 1980 they are going to vote GOP again.  It is going to take a couple of election cycles before people start thinking Democratic Party first.

by monkeyga 2008-06-24 06:08AM | 0 recs
Sebelius

Obamay may invite some serious headaches for himself if Sebelius is his VP selection.  The crosstabs for those SurveyUSA polls have been terrible for her in every state with the exception of Kansas.  I'll concede that SurveyUSA's crosstabs lack credibility as they show on average a twenty point gender gap between Obama and McCain; the crosstabs show Obama's overwhelming lead over McCain among females softens whenever any woman has been listed as his VP.

There's no doubt that Sebelius is talented; she's as popular as a liberal can be in an extremely conservative state.  However, Obama is already dominating the tool among women and schooling the tool on issues pertaining to the economy (Rasmussen has him with a 59-32 edge on economic issues).  Obama seems to be getting bagged among white males and losing pretty badly on issues pertaining to national security, where McCain has a 59-37 edge.  I have a hard time seeing how Sebelius helps him among white males and on national secuirty issues.  She doesn't seem to help him from an electoral college perspective either.

by Blazers Edge 2008-06-23 09:45PM | 0 recs
Re: Sebelius

The same argument may also be applied to Hillary; I'm not sure if a ticket of Obama/Clinton would do too much for white males (the two just look too cute together) and national security issues are not really Hillary's wheelhouse.  Domestic issues are but Obama is already putting a licking on McCain with respect to those issues.

However, the best argument for her seems to be the electoral college perspective (putting aside that I think she would easily be the best VP for Obama).  We'll just have to do what we did in 2006 in Missouri: turn out blacks, women, and athiests in strong numbers to withstand the onslaught we are surely going to receive from white males.

by Blazers Edge 2008-06-23 09:53PM | 0 recs
Re: Catholic Voters Swing Away from the GOP

Hmmm... I wonder if he picks a Catholic, if the right wing bishops will start doing that "deny communion" thing that they did to Kerry...

by LordMike 2008-06-23 10:07PM | 0 recs
Catholics didn't support Obama in the primary

overall.  Let's hope that they come home to him in the general.  I believe that they will.

by activatedbybush 2008-06-24 05:08AM | 0 recs
"I'll vote for him/her because he/she is a
(fill in the blank)". We get the government we deserve.
by usedmeat 2008-06-24 06:05AM | 0 recs
There are 2 kinds of Catholics

Conservative and Moderate.

Obama has a real shot at the latter.

Also, a big chunk of the Catholic vote is Latino and/or working class.  Obama should get that vote despite religion.

So, I guess what I'm saying is, Catholics aren't likely to vote as a block and because of the economy and war, will likely vote in line with the general population.

by SpanishFly 2008-06-24 07:15AM | 0 recs
RC voters swing away from the GOP?

Well, it's about time that pendulum swung back.

by TrueBlueMajority 2008-06-24 07:54AM | 0 recs

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