Many Catholics vote Democrat because Republicans are perceived as protecting the interests of big business and Democrats are perceived as standing up for the little guy, which is more consistent with Catholic social teaching. You can’t really trust either parties because neither are consistent with authentic Catholic teaching.
If you take away the issues of abortion and gay marriage, the Democrat Party is the one more closely aligned with Catholic ideals. The Republican Party has continued to use these two issues to string along faith-based voters while fiscal concerns remain higher on their list of priorities. In reality, George W. Bush was president for eight years and abortion is still legal. Dick Cheney recently announced support for gay marriage. Many prominent Republican/conservative figures have been caught in gay sex scandals, such as Mark Foley, Ted Haggard, Larry Craig, Bob Allen, Glenn Murphy Jr., and so on. There’s the recent allegation of Republican Gov. Mark Sanford using tax money to finance his extramarital affair.
The Republican Party fail has failed to side with the Church on other important issues such as concern for the poor, capital punishment, immigration, health care, worker’s rights, environmental issues, war, etc.
As for “tolerence,” you have to ask yourself: why are they pushing for tolerence? Because of history. Hate crimes do happen, you know. Accusations of conservatives as “hate-mongering” are not exactly untrue. Though, the same could apply to people of both parties. In terms of race, this is a post-segregation America. Many people living today had experienced life in that era and these are racially-sensitive times. On the issue of tolerence for homosexuals, it is true that many Christians are intolerent of them. You don’t have to look far; just do a search on this forum and you’ll find a few comments. While same-sex-marriage may not be right in God’s eyes, the Church does teach that discrimination against those with same-sex-attraction should be avoided.
After 9/11, I recall reading news stories of individuals resembling Middle Easterns getting attacked on the streets. In one incident, an Indian man was shot and killed because someone thought he was a Muslim. In a John McCain rally, a woman suggests that “Arabs” are not good people (by the way the word Arab refers to the ethnicity, not a religion). Even so, the Catholic Church recognizes that the Muslim religion honors the one God. Catholics do have many things in common with these groups - they were once treated the same.
Catholics have traditionally been a fringe group in America’s history. They were the working class who lived in the urban cities and worked in the factories. Certainly, the Irish Catholics can remember the “IRISH NEED NOT APPLY” signs of 19th century America. The Italian immigrants of the 1900’s were discriminated against and labeled with negative stereotypes, similar to the current state of Latino immigrants. In recent time, there has been much outward hostility exhibited towards Mexicans, in particular, on conservative talk radio. Of course, ties to a party that once stood out for them would remain along the family line. Even now, the current Catholic population has a significant amount of new immigrant families. 35% of all Catholics in the United States are Latino alone.
The Republican Party is traditionally associated with Protestantism. Of course you’ll see a higher percentage of Protestants voting Republican - it’s their party. The Republican Party’s views on capitalism are closely tied to Protestant ideology. This article has a good analysis: time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,872821,00.html
On a similar note, I recall the controversy in 1999, when Republican House members led a fight against selecting Father Timothy O’Brien, a Catholic priest, as the House Chaplain. Dennis Hastert and Dick Armey were reported as saying that most members of the House would be more comfortable with a Protestant minister than with a Catholic priest.
Catholic teaching emphasizes solidarity which is connected to the idea of the Communion of Saints; that all are a part of the mystical Body of Christ and are responsible for each other. Each member contributes to the good of all and shares in the welfare of all. We pray for the souls in purgatory; those in Heaven pray for us; we pray and help our neighbors here on earth. Our beliefs are reflected in Catholic social teaching.
Pope Benedict XVI describes the human person as “the primary capital to be safeguarded and valued" in his latest encyclical. The Church has always put the dignity of the human person above any other issue. The Church does not share in a love for capitalism which the Republican Party has.
In the end, keep in mind that we’re dealing with politicians, not moral leaders.