Polls: Mitt Romney slipping among Catholic voters
Three out of four recent polls show GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney is losing support among Catholics despite his selection of a Catholic running mate and support from the church’s U.S. hierarchy.
The survey that has received the most attention to the trend is by the Pew Research Center, which has Romney trailing President Barak Obama among Catholic voters, 51-42 percent, as of Sept. 16. In June, a Pew poll gave Obama a 47-45 percent edge among Catholics.
Romney has never had significant support among Catholic voters, according to the Pew surveys, having the advantage over Obama just twice since late last year: 50-47 percent in October 2011 and 50-45 percent in May of last year.
Why is the Catholic vote critical for Romney?
“Catholic voters, who accounted for more than a quarter of the electorate in the 2008 election, have voted with the winning presidential candidate in every election going back to the early 1990s,” CNN reported.
“In 2008, Obama beat John McCain among Catholics by 54 percent to 45 percent. In 2004, John Kerry — the first Catholic nominee for president since John F. Kennedy — lost the Catholic vote to George W. Bush, provoking Democrats to take Catholic outreach more seriously.
“Both major parties had America’s highest-profile Catholic cleric, New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan, give the closing prayer at their recent political conventions.”
Before the conventions, Romney tapped conservative Catholic congressman Paul Ryan as his running mate and since last Spring, U.S. Catholic bishops have campaigned against the Obama administration’s mandate that requires some religious institutions, such as colleges and hospitals, to provide cost-free contraception coverage to employees. Both developments were expected to shore up support among Catholics.
But apparently several polls show that hasn’t happened. Obama lost among white Catholics in 2008, according to Pew, but now he and Romney are tied in that demographic.
“That’s the part of the poll that I think is kind of surprising,” John Green, a political science professor at the University of Akron with an expertise in politics and religion, told CNN.
“Green said that it is white Catholics who were most likely to be receptive to the bishops’ recent attacks against the Obama administration over what the church says is the White House’s curtailment of religious freedom.” [More]