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Pew poll: Obama opens up lead over Romney among Catholics
Obama has substantially widened his lead among Catholic voters since June, the Pew poll found.
September 27th, 2012
11:24 AM ET

Pew poll: Obama opens up lead over Romney among Catholics

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

Washington (CNN) - President Barack Obama has opened up a significant lead among Catholic voters, a crucial swing voting bloc, according to a recent Pew poll.

Obama leads opponent Mitt Romney among Catholic voters by 54% to 39%, according to the survey, conducted from September 12 to 16 by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press.

Obama’s lead in the Pew survey comes despite outspoken recent criticism of the Obama administration from America’s Catholic bishops and despite Mitt Romney’s selection of a Catholic running mate, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan.

The survey was released last week, but the findings on Catholic voters were highlighted this week by the Religion News Service, which notes that Obama held a much tighter 49-47% lead over Romney among Catholics in a June Pew poll.

John Green, a religion and politics expert at the University of Akron, said Obama’s gains among Catholic came from growing support among Hispanic and black Catholic voters, but also from white Catholics, among whom Obama is now tied with Romney.

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“That’s the part of the poll that I think is kind of surprising,” Green said, noting that Obama lost white Catholics in 2008, even as he won the overall Catholic vote.

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.

In its recent “Fortnight for Freedom,” campaign, the church urged American priests to denounce the administration’s requirement that health insurance companies provide free contraception coverage to employees, even if those employees work for Catholic organizations that oppose contraception.

“The bishops were hoping those efforts would bring more moderate and liberal Catholics, not necessarily for Romney but against the administration’s position,” Green said.

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John Allen, CNN’s chief Vatican analyst, noted that at least one other recent national poll gave Romney a slight lead among Catholics, and that Romney leads among Catholics who attend Mass each week.

“That either shows that the more practicing you are, the more pro-Romney (or anti-Obama) you are,” Allen said in an e-mail message, “or it says something about the political message Catholics are getting in their parishes these days.”

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.

In 2008, Obama beat John McCain among Catholics by 54% to 45%. 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.

The Democratic Convention also featured a Catholic nun who led a “nuns on the bus" tour attacking the federal budget that Ryan designed in his role as chairman of the House Budget Committee.

The Obama and Romney campaigns have both rolled out Catholic outreach efforts in recent days, and the Romney camp has highlighted Ryan’s Catholicism.

“A faithful Catholic, Paul believes in the worth and dignity of every human life,” Romney said when he introduced Ryan as his running mate last month.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: 2012 Election • Barack Obama • Bishops • Catholic Church • Mitt Romney • Politics

soundoff (1,503 Responses)
  1. nintex

    I was never so upset in my life as the day the priest said, at the end of Mass, "Let us pray the prayer for the protection of religious liberty, found taped in the front of the missalette." HUH? It ended with the pledge of allegiance to the flag, which is not a prayer. The next Sunday they passed out the "Brief Catechism for Catholic Voters", put out by the Archbishop of St. Paul and Minnesota, which in essence said if you vote for President Obama, you are committing a mortal sin, and nothing scares a Catholic more than the words Mortal Sin! I told the priest just to put in next week's bulletin – Vote for Obama and Go to Hell! Boil it down to one sentence they can understand. Excuse me, but shouldn't the Catholic Church lose its tax exempt status if they start advocating politics from the pulpit? Priests are encouraged to tell people how to vote – and it isn't for President Obama! I hate that! What I REALLY hated was that the "brief catechism" advocated capital punishment as doing society a favor by getting rid of a bad person. You can't have it both ways – either you protect all life or all bets are off. I am no longer attending that Catholic church, which probably makes me a bad Catholic; I now attend one that worships God and leaves politics out of the worship service. Period.

    September 27, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Leaving the Church of the League of Strange Celibate Men is a good first step.

      September 27, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
    • Wrenn_NYC

      That ranks up there with the day I was the most mortified in my life in a catholic church.

      It was Good Friday, the year before this last. The reading were all the gospel of St John. The reading for Good Friday is the Passion and John's is filled with 'and the Jews said "Kill Him"'. again and again. There was an italicized 'disclaimer' in the front of the readings. Explaining how Mary and Jesus were both Jewish, and we shouldn't blame the jews for Christ's death, etc etc. The priest said nothing. Never referenced this disclaimer, never said anything about all the 'and the Jews said 'kill him, kill him' peppering the text. -– And this was in a Catholic Church – IN A PREDOMINANTLY JEWISH section of NYC. Jews are our neighbors, the owners of the bakery we go do, the deli, etc.

      September 27, 2012 at 5:56 pm |
  2. harleydavidson

    How can any Catholic support a man who fought and voted against "Born Alive Infant Protection Act?" Even Nancy Pelosi voted for it. Google it. I know a Knight of Columbus officer who voted for obama despite knowing this. For me, that is hypocritical...being an officer of the Knight of Columbus, pretending to serve Jesus, hailing Vivat Jesus, but voting for a man who does not value the teachings of Jesus. I am not suggesting that they should vote for Mitt. If they can't stand Mitt, then they should just recuse themselves, but to support and vote for someone who fought and voted against the Born Alive Infant Protection Act, it is borderline evil for a "Catholic" to do. Shame on these Catholics.

    September 27, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
    • It's ok for you to stay home and not vote. Your choices are a man who defends abortion and a man who doesn't believe in the Holy Trinity or in helping the poor.

      September 27, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
  3. johnny popper

    No working Catholic I know is voting for him, but I can't speak for the people not working pressently. Isn't it ironic that the people not goign to work everyday, the one's arguably who have been shut out by our big government of subsidies for all, are possibly the people who are going to vote for more of the same?

    September 27, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      If any Catholics I know are for the incvmbent they are ashamed to admit it publicly.

      September 27, 2012 at 5:45 pm |
    • RockInD

      It is only ironic that you are making all of your assumptions of what the entire Catholic base is doing based on your circle of friends.

      September 27, 2012 at 5:55 pm |
  4. Tired of the Lies

    Another classic example of a skewed poll to support Obama. Read the details people, on page 34 of this poll is shows that among registered voters it took 869 Democrats compared to 717 Republicans and 757 Indepedent voters. Is Pew really saying that there will be roughly 8-9% more democrats voting in this election and even more independents? Have they seen how fired up the elecorate is on the Republican side? I think this poll should have been weighted the other way in a similar manner to make it more realistic. As for more independents voting that Republicans, I mean come on guys there are not that many Independents out there.

    I guess Pew and CNN figure Americans won't read the fine print and they can use any sample they want to make their polls say anything they want. Its a shame that they are right, 95% of the people reading this "article" would not read the details and understand the BS they are selling.

    September 27, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
    • RockInD

      That would be about the spread of Votes for Obama over McCain from Catholics in the last election so it may be an accurate number.

      September 27, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
  5. tessaprn

    I have tolerated all the polls possible. There have nothing to add. I'm interested in Nov 6. At the moment I'm trying to find where MSM is reporting on the WH cover up. If it did happen report that and if it did not happen dispute it. Journalism needs to have some true journalists who have ethics and do their job where ever it may lead. People who have pride in their professions.

    September 27, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
    • RockInD

      If you can't find it, you're not looking very hard.

      September 27, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
    • Wrenn_NYC

      Which is why I believe what read on the BBC, or direct full reporting UPI or AP. Every news site (CNN, MSNBC, etc) spins, or shortens the articles leaving important stuff out. etc.

      September 27, 2012 at 6:09 pm |

  6. I was intrigued when I learned that the burning of Christians began with the Romans. Then Rome became the Roman Church and the Christians started burning Christians. It's a shame they've slacked off.

    September 27, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
    • ViK100

      Are you intrigued by the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah as well?? You should be. READ uP on it.

      September 27, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
    • Wrenn_NYC

      Not just Christians – and not usually christians for being christians. Basically spectacle deaths of criminals and animals were an entertainment venue for the Romans at the time). So – Ready Pliney the youngers letters. In them you see that being Christian was not (to put it in modern day terms) a primary offense. Sort of a secondary one. Like you can't get pulled over for not wearing your seatbelt, but if you aren't when you're pulled over, it's another fine.

      The 'crime' for being Christian at the time of Pliney the younger was that you wouldn't worship the emperor as a god. Jews got a pass, there was a long standing agreement made over that. But when Christians stopped being seen as a sect of Judaism, and a religion in their own right (by the early to mid 2nd century) , they no longer got the pass. (by the beginning of the 4th century, Christianity became the state religion of Rome... so the 'period' wherein Christians could have been persecuted was something like 160 or so years. And there were some notable persecutions of Christians in that time. Nero's being one of them.

      September 27, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
  7. jnpa

    I am a Catholic and I totally reject being preached from the pulpit on political matters. No priest or bishop will tell me who to vote for and I do not feel that mass is the place for it.

    September 27, 2012 at 5:05 pm |
    • ViK100

      YOu can't have good politics without a good religious backbone. Do you want to be governed by an atheist??

      September 27, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
  8. rt4y

    Yeah well Catholics also support child molesters and even pay them to touch their childeren. If patronize an organization that covers up and even has people within its walls blaming the boys for seducing the priests. You support child molesters. Its not a sin, its a Felony. Robin Williams

    September 27, 2012 at 5:03 pm |
  9. JohnnyU

    you have almost the perfect name Colon, maybe you'll spend eterntiy there!!! have to send you there before you can spend your time there.

    September 27, 2012 at 5:03 pm |
  10. MBW

    As a Catholic, I vote the issues, not whether there is a Catholic on the ticket or not. And I am particularly turned off by the Republican Party pandering to right wing evangelicals and conservative Catholics. Evangelicals and Catholics are united on issues such as abortion. However, eight years of Republican control of the White House and House and six years of control of the Senate have accomplished nothing on this issue. They were never serious about this issue, they just wanted our vote. Never again. We may not get what we want, but we know what we will be getting. Vote Democratic.

    September 27, 2012 at 5:01 pm |
    • fatal42

      A catholic voting for Obama, is like a Jew in 1940 voting for HITLER !!!!

      September 27, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
  11. Jim

    Colin can't count to five. Also, he dismisses anything he does not understand. Sucks to be you, Colin.

    September 27, 2012 at 4:58 pm |

    • Colin knows how to use Reply, dipshit.

      September 27, 2012 at 5:03 pm |
  12. truth

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o3766TOukRo&w=640&h=360]

    September 27, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
  13. faboge

    Robmey is still leading with white men over 70.

    September 27, 2012 at 4:55 pm |
    • Huebert

      The bent back bone of the republican party.

      September 27, 2012 at 5:04 pm |
  14. JohnnyU

    This is the perfect example of the LIES the media wants. A poll that is bogus just as the agency who prints it. Catholics are PRO LIFE and the only Catholics that would vote for Obama are not Catholics. View the link CNN and PEW Research: http://www.youtube.com/watch_popup?v=D9vQt6IXXaM&hd
    These folks must really think we are stupid.

    September 27, 2012 at 4:55 pm |
    • Chuck Wagon

      What makes you think that Catholics would want a Mormon in the White House? Especially RomneyBot 3000, a bumbling robot from the future with unconvincing synthetic skin?

      September 27, 2012 at 5:05 pm |
    • Gigi

      Real Catholics demand social justice. Jesus never said a word about abortion, but did tell us how we should treat the poor and sick- Two groups Romney doesn't care about.

      September 27, 2012 at 5:05 pm |
    • Huebert

      In response to all of the "NO CATHOLIC WOULD EVER VOTE FOR OBAMA, WE'RE ALL PRO-LIFE!!!!" post. I propose we rename the no true Scotsman fallacy the no true Catholic fallacy.

      September 27, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
    • RockInD

      Thank you Gigi

      September 27, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
    • Jeff Cox

      The US Council of Catholic Bishops sponsors a "faithful citizenship" program each election year. In it, they're very quick to point out that NEITHER of the two major political parties' platforms do not fully conform to Catholic teachings.

      The anti-abortion, anti-gay folks seem to be the largest element of my Church ... but they're not the only ones. "Respecting Life" means more than protecting fetuses and being pro-traditional family. Those of us (like me) who feel that respecting life has to include care for the needy, protection of the aged and infirm, an end to capital punishment, protection of the environment and an end to war have no problem voting for the Democratic ticket.

      Personally, I don't see how a Catholic can vote solely on the basis of abortion and gays. Not everyone is Catholic, and the Church has no right telling others how they must live their life. The new wrinkle ...Obamacare ... throws a bit more of a wrench into things for the Church, but I feel relatively certain that a compromise will be worked out.

      My opinion.

      September 27, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
    • Jeff Cox

      Geesh ... I used to not know what "illiterate" meant, and now I ARE one. :o)

      Major error in my original post ... I meant to say that neither of the parties' platforms fully support the Church's teachings. I unintentionally put a double negative in there.

      My apologies.

      September 27, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
    • Jason

      Oh Gigi, Jesus' ultimate message in all his teachings was love. Abortion is anything but love. Republicans do things for the poor also, and there is a safety net that is still there and will remain there unchanged. Did people lose their safety net under George Bush, No! Just remember, Jesus almost because a statistic of the earliest form of abortion in the roman empire. King Herod wanted him dead. He did not have to talk about whether it was ok, I think being Catholic/Christian takes a little common sense.

      September 27, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
    • Jason

      @Jeff Cox. Yeah there is more to abortion. But, when a president such as the current one expands abortion rather than keeping the status quo, how as a Catholic can you support this person? Abortion will never be turned over, it is precedence. But, it does not mean we need it expanded. Why was one of the first things Obama did was get rid of the Mexico City Accord? The safety net for the poor never changed under 8 years of Bush. However, the unemployment rate has remained nearly twice as what Bush's term was and the poverty rate has doubled in three years of Obama's term compared to 8 years of Bush's. I think the biggest safety net and caring for the poor is finding them a job, expecially these young college kids that have all these school loans. Just saying!!!

      September 27, 2012 at 5:36 pm |
    • Jeff Cox

      @Jason ... I have absolutely NO problem voting to re-elect President Obama.

      First off, you are 100% correct about abortion not being overturned. But did you know that there is a higher per-capita incident of abortion in South America (where abortion is almost universally illegal) than in Europe (where it's not)? Why is that? It's because there are other alternatives and there is better education on the alternatives. What do the Republicans want to do? Eliminate social programs, some of which would do that education! I cannot support that.

      Second – I will NEVER consider the economic woes of the past 3 years as being "Obama's fault" ... not when Republicans have vetoed jobs bill after job bill ... have put opposition to this President above addressing this country's problems ... and have run a campaign based on lies, deception, pandering to fear, ignorance and hatred. If you can watch Romney's little fundraiser faux pas and not believe that, then I don't know what to tell you. Quite frankly, i don't know how you could be Catholic and vote for Romney ... not the other way around.

      I'm not looking at "a safety net" being protected. There was no "Tea Party" during Bush's term. These people are dangerous. They are examples of Americans who know NOTHING about what America is supposed to be about.

      But that's me. I'm sure there will be plenty of people that read this and feel exactly the same way about the Democrats as I do about the Republicans. Whatever. All I know is that I am spending every waking moment I have trying to protect my country from the likes of them. I am afraid it's a losing battle, because there are just way too many people in this country that are either to ignorant, stupid, apathetic, afraid or hateful to know that a vote for the Republican party is a vote against their own best interests.

      My opinion.

      September 27, 2012 at 5:54 pm |
  15. Colin

    A quick five question test to help understand Catholicism.

    Q.1 Please choose your favorite Catholic superst.ition from those below. For the one you choose, please say why it is any more ridiculous than the rest of the garbage Catholics swallow and give an example of a non-Catholic belief which is just as stupid.

    a. Grocery store bread and wine becomes the flesh and blood of a dead Jew from 2,000 years ago because a priest does some hocus pocus over it in church of a Sunday morning.

    b. When I pray for something like “please god help me pass my exam tomorrow,” an invisible being reads my mind and intervenes to alter what would otherwise be the course of history in small ways to meet my request.

    c. You can pray to a dead person for something. This dead person will then ask God to fulfill your wish. If this happens twice, this dead person becomes a saint.

    d. A god impregnated a virgin with himself, so he could give birth to himself and then sacrifice himself to himself to negate an “original sin” of a couple we now know never existed.

    Q2 The best theory we currently have is that Universe was created about 13.7 billion years ago in what is (somewhat misleadingly) called the Big Bang. To understand this we should:

    a. Simply declare that, because we don’t know what caused the Big Bang, the Hindu god Brahma must have created the Universe.

    b. Simply declare that, because we don’t know what caused the Big Bang, God must have created the Universe.

    c. Adopt the Australian Aboriginal belief that the Universe was created by a great snake in the Dreamtime; or

    d. Accept the limits on our current knowledge and just stop there, without invoking a magic act by any god to fill the current gap in our knowledge.

    Q.3 Likewise, we know that life on Earth evolved over the last approximately 3.5 billion years and likely began in a planet wide “organic soup” of complex organic chemicals in the primordial oceans, in an increasingly well understood process. As such, we should:

    a. Look for any limitation in our knowledge and, when we find one, jump up and say “aha, scientists cannot yet fully explain (for example) how DNA synthesis first occurred, therefore the Judeo-Christian god did it.”

    b. Look for any limitation in our knowledge and, when we find one, jump up and say “aha, scientists cannot yet fully explain (for example) how DNA synthesis first occurred, therefore the Hindu god Brahma did it.”

    c. Simply read our Bibles and find the answers there; or

    d. Continue our scientific research and experimentation and not make the bald faced assertion that any god, ghost or goblin must have conjured up life through some inexplicable act of magic.

    Q.4 The statement “I believe in God because the Bible tells me to and the reason I follow the Bible is because it is the word of God” is:

    a. The reason 99% of Catholics believe what they do;

    b. Circular reasoning at its most obvious;

    c. Specific to the Judeo-Christian parts of the World and totally rejected by all other parts of the World; or

    d. All of the above.

    Q.5 Probably the most fundamental tenet of Catholic faith is that God sent his son Jesus to Earth to die and save us from the original sin of Adam and Eve. We now know that Adam and Eve was a myth. As such, any thinking Catholic should:

    a. Honestly and courageously question this and any other aspects of their faith that don’t make sense.

    b. Make up some euphemistic nonsense like “well, we didn’t mean that literally” after having done exactly that for the last 1900 years until science comprehensively disproved it.

    c. Just ignore the blatant contradiction and sweep it under the mat; or

    d. Hold on to the myth because it makes them feel good.

    September 27, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
    • Dick Smegma

      Clueless...
      Feel like a big man, now, Aquinass?

      September 27, 2012 at 4:59 pm |
    • JohnnyU

      you have almost the perfect name Colon, maybe you'll send eterntiy there!!!

      September 27, 2012 at 5:01 pm |
    • BG

      WoW!! Brilliant. They tried to raise me to be a Catholic, but failed.

      September 27, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
    • Rationalized

      Can you explain that in earthly terms, Mr Mars?

      September 27, 2012 at 5:18 pm |
  16. Truth

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zVRRtl6hFJI&w=640&h=360]

    Mitt Romney's PR people must have had heart attacks when they realized the 47% Romney spoke about included senior citizens, soldiers, grad students, and the working poor.

    September 27, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
  17. Joe

    Folks, a bit off topic I admit, but check out Fox News – you can smell the desparation over there – they know that Romney is going to lose.

    September 27, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
    • Truth

      I know, and with Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Peggy Noonan, and other big time righty tighties attacking Romney now it's so absolutely delicious to see the entire GOP abandon him.

      September 27, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
  18. Colin

    So many Christians, so few lions.......

    September 27, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
    • JBHedgehog

      Heh...nice.

      September 27, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
  19. Peter Q Wolfe

    The reason that conservatives don't want you to have contraception, abortions, gay marriage, breast exams, education or know anything of science is because the wealthy benefit off of the misfortune of others. Fact is that the standard of living is tanking because our education system is in shambles, public health epedemic of obesity and pooor people having children at all that inhibit them the poor to gain a decent living. Seeing how the powerful in the catholic church decide the majority of things that the uncomparative advantage paints a awful picture of the catholic church in general and shouldn't hence forth be listened to on morals.

    September 27, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
    • Marty

      Absolutely right on!! It's been said that, to be a powerful ruler, don't educate the people.

      September 27, 2012 at 4:59 pm |
    • flickerman

      They stopped the massive torture and killing of the Crusades, the religious wars, and the Inquisition. Be grateful. Now all they have to do is stop the pedophilia and let priests marry. Most Catholics don't go along with the birth control or abortion doctrines.

      September 27, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
  20. Truth

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HlP0JXlStUE&w=640&h=360]

    Vote Romney, vote for the 1% he cares about!

    September 27, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
    • flickerman

      Multiple personality disorder.

      September 27, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.