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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. John

    a lot of presidents' thought they had the re-election in the bag. a lot.

    September 27, 2012 at 3:30 pm |
  2. TwitRomney

    If Romney loses, will he run again in 2016?

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

      Not "if", "when". Just wanted to point that out.

      September 27, 2012 at 3:40 pm |
  3. John

    this is another lie. i am catholic, a practicing catholic, and i do not know any catholics that are voting for barack obama, none. they could be just saying they are going to vote for him to skew the numbers, i thought about doing that, if i am every asked i might. it would fun to see obama's face on 11/7 HUH? all those catholics said they were going to vote for me.

    September 27, 2012 at 3:27 pm |
    • Jill

      I am a Catholic – large Catholic family – everyone I know say they are for President Obama. I guess we cancel each other out.

      September 27, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
    • jyves95

      I guess that you are representing the vast majority of all Catholics...

      September 27, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
    • Chunk a chunk

      Totally agree with you. And if a fellow catholic is really thinking about voting for Obama but is denying it, then it would be because he/she would be too ashamed to recognize it in front of a fellow catholic.

      September 27, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
    • nancyvilly

      iam catholic i am voting for Presisdent Barack Obama

      September 27, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
  4. Mikey

    True, Obama is pro choice. However, as a Catholic I can't vote for someone who has so much disdain for the poor, whom we are all supposed to help. I can't vote for someone who would declare war at the drop of a hat either. War is not "pro life".

    September 27, 2012 at 3:26 pm |
    • Chunk a chunk

      Mikey, who gives much more to charities, Obama or Romney? How can Romney disdain the poor if he gives so much of his money away?

      September 27, 2012 at 3:30 pm |
    • ethiopianadventistdc

      I am a pro life and as a citizen or even being a tax payer, I would rather have peace maker in the white house than those who declare war and do not have the compassion for the poor.

      September 27, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
    • Allen

      Amen Mikey.

      September 27, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
  5. CACkle

    Everyday it only gets worse for Romney. His path to the White House is greatly diminished and will likely end in defeat.

    September 27, 2012 at 3:26 pm |
  6. Truth

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

    See Mitt flip flop on abortion, global warming, and Romneycare/Obamacare and then tell me he's not a complete panderer.

    September 27, 2012 at 3:26 pm |
    • Dez

      That's what his campaign calls a reboot. lol

      September 27, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
  7. Noches

    I think it's funny when one group of people who believe in an invisible man in the sky make fun of another group of people who believe in an invisible man in the sky!

    Religion is the intoxicant of the mindless.

    September 27, 2012 at 3:24 pm |
  8. LesPaul23

    Things just keep getting worse for the Mittster. Oh well, there's always the car elevator.

    September 27, 2012 at 3:24 pm |
  9. Arnold stang

    Catholics are for social justice. We are our brothers keeper.

    September 27, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
    • Chunk a chunk

      Except when our brother is an unborn baby, right??

      September 27, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
  10. right

    Catholics can't vote Republican and believe they are following God because Republicans favour the wealthy and have no care for social programs for those that need it. This is against religious teachings.

    September 27, 2012 at 3:21 pm |
    • Jim Brody

      And the anti-abortion Catholics can't vote GOP either, because Romney invests in money in an aborted fetus disposal company.

      September 27, 2012 at 3:26 pm |
  11. Smoke n mirros

    So catholics would prefer to vote for a Muslim insted of a Mormon? At least the mormons belive in a version of Jesus.

    We need new blood in the white house, FYI no president has ever been re-elected with this high of unemployment. which is why the figures on Unemployment have been falsified. Ask yourselves how many people left the job market?

    September 27, 2012 at 3:21 pm |
    • Arnold stang

      Why are republicans losing in the polls? They believe a christian born in in the state of Hawaii is a Muslim Kenyan.
      They also believe that a Mormon born in Mexico can win by hating half of the American people, including the people that supported his family when they were in exile in Mexico for bigamy. Truth crushed to the earth shall rise. The eternal years of god are hers.

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

      @Smoke

      LOL Are you a poe? Seriously? That's just too funny.

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

      One, Obama is NOT a Muslim. Two, Muslims believe in Jesus too.

      September 27, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
    • Jill

      President Obama is not a Muslim.

      September 27, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
  12. augustghost

    Romney is a nut case like all republican control freaks

    September 27, 2012 at 3:21 pm |
  13. Allen

    A little hard to pull off the "respect for every life" thing when your boss was recorded making mean degrading comments about 47% of the country. THAT is what Catholics are responding to.

    September 27, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
  14. Ramon F. Herrera

    The Catholic Church is the MOST compassionate among so-called Christian churches...

    September 27, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
  15. Truth

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

    Romney's flip flop on abortion should make any catholics basing their vote on "Obama supports baby killing" take a second look at Mit Rommel.

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

      He is so two-faced. If I didn't know better, I would have guessed he was an Evangelical.

      September 27, 2012 at 3:25 pm |
    • Chunk a chunk

      So when you see the light and change your opinion, that's always a flip-flop? So then you are not supposed to change from your mistakes? I see... FYi, if now Romney would say he is pro-abortion, then I would agree he would be a flip-flopper.

      September 27, 2012 at 3:28 pm |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      Romney supports the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer...so Chunk would rather have people dying in the streets, then give a damn about them...how pathetically unethical and immoral.

      September 27, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
    • Chunk a chunk

      Thruthprefails, please calm down! You don't seem to understand basic economics. When the rich gets richer, creating a great product, does not mean the poor get poorer. Seems you believe the liberal falacy. Unless you force people to buy your stuff (like with some things the government forces you to), everybody benefits from what the rich person produces.

      September 27, 2012 at 3:45 pm |
  16. ERH

    Really? If you believe that poll you are numb above the navel.

    September 27, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
    • Even Steven

      u cryin bro.... waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

      September 27, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
    • kilowatt23

      Why is it when polls are in your political favor they're the gospel truth but when not.....well, you know.

      September 27, 2012 at 3:24 pm |
  17. ghostriter

    I heard a conservative radio guy say that (probably from this report) that REAL catholics support Romney. How can REAL catholics support someone who's not christian?

    Just like Romneycae, republicans don't want to talk about religion right about now.

    September 27, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
    • Zeke2112

      How can real Catholics support someone who supports abortion and gay marriage?

      I think they're stuck either way. Which, as an atheist, is delightful to watch.

      September 27, 2012 at 3:21 pm |
  18. Chunk a chunk

    Catholics, please remember, a vote for Obama is a vote pro-abortion.
    As Obama loves saying, "i'm my brother's keeper" (unless, of course, you are talking about an unborn baby).

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

      And please remember, mormons are not christians......

      That is all.

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

      Oh another one-issue voter how lovely. Do you vote single issue because that's all you can handle or are you just to lazy to take other things into account as well. Besides, Obama is pro-choice, not pro-abortion, just like so many people are anti-abortion, not pro-life.

      September 27, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
    • Allen

      No, people will have a choice under Obama. A vote for Romney is a vote for blaming the poor and needy for their ot in life. Im Catholic and I'm a lot more worried about that.

      September 27, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
    • truth be trolled

      I think I smell a disgruntled, h mophobic, and lying ex Evangelical Fortune Cookie Co. "writer".

      September 27, 2012 at 3:24 pm |
    • Chunk a chunk

      This is an important issue, but one of many others NOT to vote for Obama!! Glad it strikes a chord!

      September 27, 2012 at 3:24 pm |
    • skm

      Nobody throws my "pre-existing" kid with a "pre-existing" condition under a bus. Remember "let 'em die!" and the cheering @ one of the (R) debates? I sure do. Obama 2012

      September 27, 2012 at 3:25 pm |
    • Jim Brody

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

      September 27, 2012 at 3:28 pm |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      Don't like abortion? Don't get one!!
      This issue is not an issue. It was resolved with Roe vs Wade.
      Try educating yourself on some facts: In most cases abortion is not allowed past the end of the first tri-mester. If a woman is ra.ped, it is not fair to suggest she keep that child and have to live with it. If her health is at risk, she should be allowed to choose herself over the zygote. If a woman can not get a legal abortion, she will do so regardless.
      98% of Catholic women have admitted to using contraception.
      The USA has the highest teenage pregnancy rate of the modern world due to views like yours...time to change that!

      September 27, 2012 at 3:28 pm |
  19. Jim Brody

    And you know this how?

    September 27, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
  20. John the Historian

    http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/09/26/why-harry-reid-s-mormon-slur-may-be-good-for-the-church.html

    September 27, 2012 at 3:16 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.