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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. gmenfan54

    So Obama has the Catholic and Jewish voters. What does that leave Romney with?

    September 27, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
    • Yes Seriously!

      Actually, 75% of Catholics nationwide DO NOT support Obama. Cope!

      September 27, 2012 at 3:31 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      Source for that number? I asked before but maybe you ran from that thread before you read it.

      September 27, 2012 at 3:32 pm |
  2. 1ofTheFallen

    America is done. Obama bows to the Saudi King, goes to a so called Christian church that preaches hate of America, goes around the Middle East apologizing for American democracy and freedom speech, lies to Americans about the attack on our Libian embassy, forces Catholic businesses and schools to go against their Christian beliefs, and tries to block access to news organizations that do not worship him. What is that Americans do not get?

    September 27, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
    • midwest rail

      Good grief.

      September 27, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
    • ohgran

      It's a sin to tell a lie or lies. God will remember what you just said.

      September 27, 2012 at 3:27 pm |
    • Yes Seriously!

      Great points 1ofThe Fallen! I'm not American but I never realised till this campaign how utterly stupid, uneducated and gullible most Americans are! I wouldn't believe Obama if he told me his middle name was Hussein!

      September 27, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
  3. AmericanLiberal

    Lets talk some more crap about christians ra ra ra – the largest single group BY FAR in our country

    And then tell them to vote for us – ya, that's the ticket

    September 27, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
  4. ViK100

    This is absolutely a LIE!!!! Our Pastor has been VERY CLEAR about this. We will not vote for someone who promotes killing babies and supports gay marriage. THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IS AGAINST THOSE TWO AND WILL NOT COMPROMISE!
    I voted for Obama the first time against the suggestion of my pastor.. H U G E mistake!!

    A catholic who practices his/her faith cannot vote for Obama and pretend he/she is doing what is right before God ESPECIALLY after Obama changed his stance and became PRO-abortion and PRO gay marriage ONLY for the sake of getting more votes.

    September 27, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
    • Truth

      Funny, Romney said he was absolutely pro choice when he ran for governor of Massachusetts. He also made millions off Bain's involvement with the company stericycle (which disposed of aborted fetuses.) Look it up.

      September 27, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
    • comeatmebro

      what does your pastor feel about the blasphemy known as the Book of Mormon?

      September 27, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
    • ohgran

      Roe vs Wade will never be turned around because it is one of the only issues the Republicans can count on for votes. Think about it.Without that they would be dead in the water for every election because they just don't care about the middle class and the middle class knows it.

      September 27, 2012 at 3:32 pm |
  5. Ed Sr of Dallas Tx

    Only a Catholic would vote for a Muslim because he is a Democrat!

    September 27, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
    • midwest rail

      Only a deluded twit believes he is Muslim.

      September 27, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
  6. comeatmebro

    no self respecting Catholic would vote for a unbelieving Mormon

    September 27, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
    • AmericanLiberal

      what... you gotta chose pal
      it is not the person anyways, but the ideals behind the platform
      The direction you want to see the country going
      All the God Haters are on what side...
      It is that simple – where are all the God haters from ???
      Vote for the other team this time – I am

      September 27, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
  7. palintwit

    Repeated studies have shown that there is a greater incidence of child molestation and incest among southern white evangelical christians than in any other group. Living in tightly cramped quarters (such as trailer parks) is one of the main causes of perverted behavior among christians. Those requiring further proof need only to take a casual drive south of the Mason-Dixon Line. The abundance of toothless christian cretins you will see are a direct result of years of inbreeding.

    September 27, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
    • T.W.A.

      I personally am so tired of you and your comments about people south of the mason/dixon line ,when you have no idea what you are talking about, is it a north and south thing or what? Every day Obama is in office this country becomes more divided and i am sick of it !!!!!!!!!!! Romney/Ryan 2012

      September 27, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
  8. Joe from CT, not Lieberman

    Hmmm. Obama's rise among Catholics seems to have come after Romney tapped Ryan (a Catholic) to be his running mate. Does that say anything to people?

    September 27, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
  9. Truth

    Even Rick Santorum would be doing better than Romney currently is- that should tell you how much Mitt Romney sucks.

    September 27, 2012 at 3:11 pm |
    • Joe from CT, not Lieberman

      Maybe, but remember, Romney polled among Catholics better than Santorum did.

      September 27, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
    • sally

      Eeeew. Frothy Amurica. I don't even want to think about that.

      September 27, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
  10. Yes Seriously!

    Catholics who vote for Obama are NOMINAL catholics. No Catholic who is practising their Faith will vote for a President who supports Abortion [and advocates leaving abortion surviving babies in a cupboard to die].

    Jesus said that anyone who harms a child harms Him and His Father. He also said that whatever you do to the least of my brothers – you do to me.
    Genuine Catholics do God's will – not the will of a human being who is so presumptious as to take on God's role in deciding which of His creations lives or dies.

    September 27, 2012 at 3:10 pm |
    • Truth

      God doesn't care about the poor or anything like that all he cares about is abortion, apparently.

      What a short sighted god.

      September 27, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
    • sally

      Evidently the NOMINAL MAJORITY. lol.

      September 27, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
    • Joe from CT, not Lieberman

      Actually, I know a number of Catholics, including some priests and at least one Bishop who find Romney/Ryan odious enough that they are voting for the candidates who best represent the needs of the people, not a single issue.

      September 27, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
    • Sidewinder

      God is a made up fairy tale, so Catholics are some of the most delusional people on earth.

      September 27, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
    • midwest rail

      There are fewer "Genuine Catholics" than you will ever know.

      September 27, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
    • Sidewinder

      Obama did not invent abortion. So get over it.

      September 27, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
    • Brain, I have one

      Yet, you get to decide 'who the least of my people' is?

      September 27, 2012 at 3:21 pm |
    • Dez

      I'm catholic and am voting for President Obama. The President of the United States does not have the power to overturn Roe v Wade. So whether or not he is pro-choice is irrelevant. The true question is which of the two candidates will do more to help the less fortunate. Mitt doesn't care about the 47% and that's very unchristian like.

      September 27, 2012 at 3:22 pm |
    • ChristGal

      Thank you Truth for telling the truth. I am a fim Catholic believer, but our leaders (priests, bishops, pope) should preach to their flocks how to live a saint and pure life (so we wont have pregnant young women who are not married) rather than telling the government what to do.

      September 27, 2012 at 3:28 pm |
    • Sidewinder

      Don't forget some other causes of unwanted pregnancy, namely r ape and ince$t, then of course there are those pesky medical situations where the life of the mother is threatened if she carries to full term. How about this: lets leave these important medical decisions to the people who's lives are about to be effected by them? And then let them deal with their god, if they have one.

      September 27, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
  11. Donzi

    I don't think that is true. Not for one second.

    September 27, 2012 at 3:10 pm |
  12. JamesinOKC

    CNN is such a false reporter....im catholic, my extended family is all catholic, and we get the national catholic newsletter from the entire nation, and all catholic polls show over 75% of catholics will NOT vote for Obama. Nice try again CNN, you are just pasting in Obama's press releases and not pasting in any of Romneys. BIASED and straight up BLASPHAMY!!!!!

    September 27, 2012 at 3:10 pm |
    • Yes Seriously!

      James – God Bless you and your family, and thank you for your post – it gives me hope.

      September 27, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      1) Learn to spell.
      2) Sources for those polls?
      3) Random capital words don't make your point any more valid.

      September 27, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
    • ckaul

      Agreed-I am a gay, catholic and will NOT be voting for Obama. Many of my gay friends will not be voting for Obama. While im not overly impressed with Romney, he is the better choice. Its absolutley horrible that on a 75,000/yr salary, i am paying 14,000 in federal taxes alone....

      September 27, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
    • ohgran

      I don't know of any Catholic, and I know plenty, that has been polled. If you take your number from the number of those who attend church regularly, you are dead wrong as I attend every Sunday and could not disagree with you more. We find that our personal issues are not one the Church should decide for us thus we are taking into consideration what is best for our family.

      September 27, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
    • Sidewinder

      89% of all percentages quoted on the internet are false. If your sources are a national catholic newsletter, you probably like FOX news too?

      September 27, 2012 at 3:24 pm |
    • Brain, I have one

      National Catholic newsletter. That's a good one. There is no official newsletter that goes out to all Catholics, its an opt-in news letter at best, and I highly question the accuracy of any poll conducted by whomever puts out such a newsletter.

      Finally, if abortion is the only issue you are voting on, you are a terrible Catholic, a terrible American, and a terrible person.

      September 27, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
  13. Bluto Blutarski

    If they are voting for Abortions NOW!! Boy they are not Catholics. Just more meat frying in hell. Hopefully

    September 27, 2012 at 3:09 pm |
    • Huebert

      It's really creepy how excited some Christians get when they think of people being tortured in hell.

      September 27, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
    • Jim Brody

      Bluto, Romney invested his money in a company that disposes of aborted fetuses. Perhaps you need to sit this election out.

      September 27, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
  14. zaggs

    Good luck getting that D+9 turnout Pew.

    September 27, 2012 at 3:09 pm |
  15. Truth

    Why don't we just trust the people of Massachusetts who overwhelmingly kicked Romney out after he screwed their state over completely, and who at the end of his time had 39% approval ratings?

    If the people of his home state (Michigan) and the state where he served as governor (Mass) don't want Romney, why would the rest of us want to put up with his crap?

    September 27, 2012 at 3:08 pm |
    • zaggs

      Why would we want a president who by his own standard is unpatriotic?

      September 27, 2012 at 3:10 pm |
    • Joe from CT, not Lieberman

      Zaggs, do you mean like a candidate who used his missionary status to avoid the Draft during Nam?

      September 27, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
  16. ohgran

    Just goes to show that we want the church to stay out of our personal lives. What does a priest know about the struggles of a woman whether it be health issues or child-bearing? God will be our only judge. If a fetus cannot survive outside the womb, how is it living?

    September 27, 2012 at 3:07 pm |
    • Yes Seriously!

      As a Reproductive Biologist I could explain how wrong you are, but I think it would be a waste of time trying.

      September 27, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
  17. ForGoodOfAll

    I would like to thank the support of Sister Simone Campbell and the Nuns on the Bus!! I think that their social and political movement is so very charitable and compassionate toward the people that need help the most – society's needy and underprivileged. As a former Roman Catholic who left the Church due to the pedophile scandals and subsequent cover-ups, I am certainly inspired with a renewed sense of hope and pride regarding the sisters' missions and charitable deeds. Thanks so much for supporting the Democratic ticket, dear sisters!

    September 27, 2012 at 3:05 pm |
    • Yes Seriously!

      If you gave up your Faith because of the actions of some of the people in the church, you never had the FAITH in the first place. People who'se faith is weak used the scandal as an excuse to get out without admitting they failed!

      Nobody ever claimed that the people in the Catholic Church never sin or do dreadful wrongs; but. NOTHING changes the Faith given to us by Jesus over 2,000 years ago.

      September 27, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
    • Just a John

      @Yes Seriously
      You are kidding right? Faith=belief in something that can not be proved. So someone finally realizes that is all one big scam and are free of their delusion, they should be admired. The only one that profited from jesus' time on earth was judas cashing in with his 30 pieces of silver. OK not the only one, still a large group of hustlers still making a good buck selling the BS. HALLELUJAH!

      September 27, 2012 at 3:32 pm |
    • Yes Seriously!

      The New Testament was written by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John – who lived and worked with Jesus during His Public life! John stood at the foot of the Cross with Jesus' Mother when Jesus died. These are First hand accounts.

      Science and logic are closer than ever to proving that there is a God.

      It takes intelligence to use reason and logic together with science to look at the evidence. You either HAVE that in telligence or you write it off as a "Scam"

      September 27, 2012 at 3:51 pm |
    • midwest rail

      " Science and logic are closer than ever to proving that there is a God. " Nonsense.

      September 27, 2012 at 3:53 pm |
    • Yes Seriously!

      JustaJohn – The New Testament was written by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John – who lived and worked with Jesus during His Public life! John stood at the foot of the Cross with Jesus' Mother when Jesus died. These are First hand accounts.

      Science and logic are closer than ever to proving that there is a God.

      It takes intelligence to use reason and logic together with science to look at the evidence. You either HAVE that in telligence or you DON'T have the intellect so you write it off as a "Scam". I guess you belong in the 2nd category!

      September 27, 2012 at 3:53 pm |
    • Yes Seriously!

      Midwest rail – Your one word "nonsense" shows exactly why you don't have the intelligence to accept the obvious! You MUST be a liberal!

      September 27, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
    • ForGoodOfAll

      @YesSeriously!
      Regarding...'If you gave up your Faith because of the actions of some of the people in the church, you never had the FAITH in the first place. People who'se faith is weak used the scandal as an excuse to get out without admitting they failed!'

      If the atrocious, perverted acts of the pedophiles (robed in the cloaks of priests) were not only allowed to practice but also were PROTECTED by the Catholic Church via moving abusive priests around to other parishes to avoid detection, then certainly, as a DECENT human being & parent with a conscious, I made the decision to cut ties with the Roman Catholic Church.
      Attack me verbally if you want. I am confident of my decision. Yet I admire and support Sr. Simone and her following with their mission to serve the poor despite the political leanings & preferences of the Vatican.

      September 27, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
  18. John the Historian

    It is great to hear that Catholics have finally woken up to the true meaning of Christianity(and mormonism is not Christian but a cult: No Christian denomination recognizes the book of mormon) thatone takes care of the poor and sick and aged. Republicans are only the party of Wall Street, the billionaires like Willard, the military-industrial complex, and corporate elite. Mormon cult followers need to read a little Mark Twain: "The book of mormon is chloroform in print". Jesus Christ was not a polygamist, Jesus Christ did not preach to the American-Indians, the American-Indians are not the 13 tribe of Israel, there was no 200 pound gold book of tablets, Joseph Smith was a rapist and con man, Brigham Young was a rapist and murderer, and the 12 prophets in Salt Lake City only want control of people and their money. Get educated people. Republicans are only for the rich and are fascists.

    September 27, 2012 at 3:04 pm |
    • Joe from CT, not Lieberman

      John, the Rank-and-File Catholics have had a clue for years. The problem is the Bishops bought into the Anti-Abortion movement as the defining "single issue", and have used this as a hammer over Democratic Politicians who happen to be Catholic. Anyone remember when a group of Bishops publicly announced they would withhold the sacraments of Penance and Holy Communion and "Christian Burial" from any politician who supported Pro-Choice legislation?

      September 27, 2012 at 3:11 pm |
  19. bxgrrl

    Too bad Ryan's compassion for life doesn't extend to animals.

    September 27, 2012 at 3:04 pm |
  20. Truth

    Romney has "reinvented" himself at least three (maybe more) times just in this campaign alone not to mention his 100% flip flop since he was governor.

    I do find it funny that the same FOX news shills who complained in 2008 about Obama "not having enough experience in government" because he was only a senator for a short time, have no problem with Romney's track record as a one term governor and that's all the experience he has.

    September 27, 2012 at 3:04 pm |
    • old ben

      yup. Faux News is unbelievable – literally.

      September 27, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
    • Yes Seriously!

      ROMNEY has re- invented himself? You've got to be Joking / intellectually challenged / gullible! Take your pick.

      Obama:
      [1] 1999 "I was born in Kenya" 2008 Oops I misspoke I was really born in Hawaii"
      '[2] 2008 "I support Traditional marriage" 2011 "Er, I definitely support Gay marriage"
      [3] 2008 "An undivided Jerusalem MUST be the Capital of Israel!" 2 weeks later with Fareed Zakaria: "I didn't MEAN to say that – it was the result of "poor phrasing"
      [4] "We will NOT borrow more money from China to add to the Deficit" 2012 " I've re-thought my decision – I will borrow more from China"
      [5] "If you built a business, you didn't build it, someone else did that" --A RECORD 3 flip-flops in ONE sentence!!!!

      As for Stericycle – Bain took that on over a YEAR after Romney LEFT! You ignorant creature.

      September 27, 2012 at 3:46 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.