Catholics are a quarter of the
electorate, and they voted for Obama over Romney by the same margin as the total
electorate, 50%-48%. Contrary to what many pundits are saying, this suggests
that the bishops’ campaign for religious liberty, waged against the Health and
Human Services mandate, actually paid off: Obama got 54% of the Catholic vote in
2008 to McCain’s 45%.
Some commentators talk about the Catholic vote as
if it were monolithic, and others say it doesn’t exist. It would be more
accurate to say there are four Catholic votes: practicing and non-practicing;
white and Latino.
Among practicing Catholics, Obama received 42% to
Romney’s 57%; among non-practicing Catholics, Obama picked up 56% while Romney
White Catholics gave Obama 40% of their votes while Romney
earned 59%; Latino Catholics gave Obama 71% of their votes while Romney earned
From previous survey research published by the Pew Forum, we know
that practicing Latino Catholics are less likely to support the Democrats than
are non-practicing Latinos.
What this shows is that the more practicing
a Catholic is, of any ethnic background, the less likely he is to support the
more secular of the candidates.
Finally, there is a serious question
whether non-practicing Catholics should be considered Catholic. By way of
analogy, if someone tells a pollster that he is a vegetarian, but has long since
been a veggie-only eater, would it make empirical sense to count him as a
vegetarian? Self-identity is an interesting psychological concept, but it is not
necessarily an accurate reflection of a person’s biography.
Contact our director of
communications about Donohue’s remarks: Jeff Field Phone:
212-371-3191 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org