Catholic Voters Heavily Favored Obama, Analysis Shows

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), November 7, 2008 | Go to article overview

Catholic Voters Heavily Favored Obama, Analysis Shows


Byline: Julia Duin, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Large numbers of Catholics and religiously unaffiliated voters heavily contributed to President-elect Barack Obama's huge margin of victory over Republican Sen. John McCain, according to an analysis of exit poll surveys by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.

Obama had a greater appeal for religious people, said John Green, a senior fellow at Pew. I don't think we would have seen that support had Hillary [Rodham Clinton] been nominated.

Catholics voted for Mr. Obama over Mr. McCain by a nine-point margin (54 percent versus 45 percent), a turnaround from 2004 when Catholics supported President Bush over Sen. John Kerry, Massachusetts Democrat, by a five-point margin (52 percent to 47 percent).

Their votes came despite the warnings from 89 bishops who issued a blizzard of statements in the closing weeks of the election, warning against voting for a pro-choice candidate.

Denver Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, who last month termed Mr. Obama the most committed 'abortion-rights' presidential candidate of either major party since the Roe v. Wade abortion decision in 1973, led the effort.

His - and other voices from church leaders - went unheeded.

Six months ago the pundits were predicting that President-elect Obama would not do well with Catholic voters, said Steve Krueger, national director of the Boston-based group Catholic Democrats. The fact that Senators Obama and [Joseph R.] Biden reversed a trend, since 1996, of white ethnic Catholics defecting to the Republican Party in presidential elections is of historic significance.

Mr. Obama did especially well among Hispanics, who are overwhelmingly Catholic. Two-thirds of them voted for him compared with white Catholics, who voted for Mr. McCain 52 to 47 percent over Mr. Obama.

Latino Catholics appear to have been decisive in flipping three states from red to blue: New Mexico, Colorado and Nevada, wrote Michael Sean Winters, an author on Catholic issues and a regular contributor to a blog sponsored by the Jesuit-run America magazine.

Plus, The states that are most Catholic - Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania - are also the states that are the bluest of the blue, he added. …

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