**White Catholic voters turn on Donald Trump, handing Hillary Clinton further opportunity to steal traditional Republican support
At the start of the month, Donald Trump led Hillary Clinton by 56-31 per cent among white Catholics.
According to the latest poll, in the wake of the lewd video and sexual assault allegations against Mr Trump, Mrs Clinton has taken a 46-42 lead. Overall, the Catholic vote is 61-34 in her favour.
This is a major blow to Mr Trump’s chances of pulling off a victory in three weeks time - in fact it could be fatal.**
White Catholic support has been crucial to Republican presidential hopefuls for decades and helped the party make sweeping gains in the midterm elections of 2010 and 2014. Mitt Romney secured 59 per cent of the white Catholic vote in 2012.
**Catholic Vote, a conservative organisation, said in a statement: “Newly released comments by Donald Trump . . . are disgusting and simply indefensible.
“Christians should not waste their breath defending them. The mere fact that this conversation is occurring in the context of a presidential campaign impoverishes us all. If Donald Trump is unwilling to step aside, the Republican National Committee must act soon out of basic decency and self-preservation.”**
Referring to the latest polling, Robert Jones, a Public Religion Research Institute pollster, told the New York Times: “That’s not where Trump wants to be in the homestretch, particularly with a core constituency in Mid Western battleground states.”
Aside from the disclosures this month about Mr Trump’s sexually aggressive language towards women and alleged history of assault, which the candidate denies, his spat with Pope Francis is unlikely to have helped his popularity among the demographic…
**It’s not all plain sailing for the Clinton camp’s hopes of sweeping up the white Catholic vote, however.
Emails released earlier this week showed senior campaign officials discussing Republican Catholics in offensive terms.**
John Halpin, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, a Democratic think tank with close ties to the Clinton campaign and the Obama White House wrote in 2011 that “the most powerful elements of the conservative movement are all Catholic” and described their positions as “an amazing bastardisation of the faith”.
He added: “They must be attracted to the systematic thought and severely backwards gender relations and must be totally unaware of Christian democracy.”
Republicans claimed that the emails highlighted the Clinton campaign’s “breathtaking anti-Catholic bigotry”.