Catholics’ Presidential Pick Differs by Ethnicity, Religiosity
[LEFT]PRINCETON, NJ – Catholic voters in the United States are evenly split in their support for Barack Obama and Mitt Romney for president, mirroring the national trend. However, Hispanic Catholics – about 18% of the total group of Catholic voters – are overwhelmingly likely to support Obama over Romney, while a majority of non-Hispanic white Catholics support Romney.[/LEFT]
[LEFT]Obama led Romney by one percentage point, 46% to 45%, among the more than 8,000 registered voters interviewed as part of Gallup Daily tracking conducted April 11-30. Among the 1,915 Catholics interviewed during that time, support for Obama and Romney was almost the same, with 46% support for Obama and 46% for Romney.[/LEFT]
[LEFT]Religious White Catholics Support Romney; the Nonreligious, Obama
Non-Hispanic white Catholics themselves, who make up 75% of all Catholic registered voters, are far from monolithic in their vote choice. As a general rule in today’s political world, the more religious the American, the more likely he or she is to be a Republican and vote for Republican candidates. This rule of thumb is evident among white Catholic voters. Among non-Hispanic white Catholics whom Gallup categorizes as “very religious” or “moderately religious,” Romney wins over Obama by 30- and 22-point margins, respectively. Among nonreligious Catholics, Obama wins by 54% to 40%.[/LEFT]
[LEFT]Overall Catholic Vote Similar to 2008[/LEFT]
[LEFT]The overall Catholic vote so far this year is similar to what it was in 2008, when Gallup’s final survey before the election found that Catholics’ slim support for Obama over Republican candidate John McCain almost identically matched the overall national vote. In elections prior to 2008, however, Catholics have generally been more Democratic in their voting, including a vote preference for John Kerry over George W. Bush in 2004, and for Al Gore over Bush in 2000. Catholics overwhelmingly voted for Democrat John F. Kennedyover Richard Nixon in the 1960 election, helping make Kennedy the first and, to date, only Catholic to be elected president.[/LEFT]
Catholics constitute almost one in four voters in the U.S. today, making their vote an important target of the Obama and the Romney election campaigns. However, although Catholics as a whole are almost precisely average in their vote choices at this point in the campaign, there are major differences by the ethnicity and religiosity of Catholics that underscore the difficulty of typifying and subsequently targeting an “average” Catholic voter. Hispanic Catholics and nonreligious white Catholics, constituting between them almost four in 10 Catholic voters, strongly support Obama. On the other hand, very and moderately religious white Catholics – about 56% of all Catholics – support Romney, although by not as strong a margin.