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Loudly Catholic Santorum loses Ohio Catholics
Mitt Romney, left, won more Ohio Catholics on Tuesday than Rick Santorum.
March 7th, 2012
03:53 AM ET

Loudly Catholic Santorum loses Ohio Catholics

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

(CNN) - Rick Santorum, a conservative Catholic who is outspoken about faith-based issues, lost Catholic voters by a wide margin in Ohio on Tuesday, potentially a key factor that allowed Mitt Romney to squeak out the narrowest of victories overall in the state.

According to CNN’s exit polls, Romney took 43% of Ohio Catholics on Super Tuesday, compared to 31% for Rick Santorum, and Romney beat Santorum overall by 38% to 37%.

Read how Santorum fared Tuesday

Catholic voters accounted for a third of Ohio’s Republican electorate, the largest share of Catholics in any Super Tuesday state.

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“The margin of Romney's win among Ohio Catholics is surprising, given Santorum's traditional Catholicism,” says John Green, a political science professor at the University of Ohio. “Romney's margin among Ohio Catholics - especially in the three largest metropolitan areas - may account for his close win in Ohio.”

Green notes that Romney, a Mormon, has consistently won the Catholic vote in this year’s Republican primaries. That pattern runs counter to speculation that Catholics would focus more on hot-button issues at a time when Catholic bishops are battling the Obama White House over government-mandated contraception coverage.

Get the latest news on Santorum's campaign

Romney has denounced the Obama administration’s contraception rule but Santorum has gone further, making social issues a cornerstone of his campaign. Last week, the former Pennsylvania senator said that John F. Kennedy’s 1960 speech in which the then-presidential candidate advocated an absolute separation of church and state nearly made him throw up.

The Catholic vote is one of the largest swing blocs in the country, voting for the winning presidential candidates from both parties in recent elections. But the bloc is so diverse, including many Catholics who differ with church leaders on social issues and many who have drifted from the church, that many religious and political experts dismiss any notion of a “Catholic vote.”

Read how Santorum plans to fight to the end

In Ohio, the most contested of the 10 states to cast ballots on Tuesday, Catholics represented one of GOP primary’s main constituencies. Another major bloc, white evangelicals, comprised almost half of the Ohio vote, and broke for Santorum over Romney by 47% to 30%.

One progressive Catholic group made political hay out of Santorum’s weak showing among Ohio Catholics, emailing reporters a statement titled “Santorum campaigns on divisive wedge issues, promptly loses Catholic vote.”

Five things we learned from Super Tuesday

“Catholic voters care more about economic issues that affect their families than they do about socially divisive wedge issues like contraception,” said James Salt, executive director of Catholics United, in the statement.

“Mainstream Catholics want leaders who can address the moral challenges of our day like income inequality, underwater mortgages and poverty,” Salt continued, “not leaders who perpetuate a never-ending culture war that divides our community.”

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Catholic Church • Mitt Romney • Ohio • Politics • Rick Santorum

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soundoff (966 Responses)
  1. mikithinks

    It is sad that so many Catholics seem to be in name only. The use of birth control is a "mortal' sin and can only be forgiven if you are contrite and go forth and sin no more. That is, you resolve not to practice it again. Well, that gets you through one confession. Cathoulics need to examine their true beliefs and decide if they want to keep calling themselves Catholic, but only go to services on Christmas and Easter. They might admit that their lapsed statis is a matter of their true beliefs. It is more honest to no longer be a Catholic in name, Other faiths might be more true to your values and lifestyle.

    March 7, 2012 at 7:34 am |
    • Catholic

      Those terrible priests committed mortal sins! And there will be a lot of room in heaven if using birth control prevents Catholics from entering the pearly gates. Besides, just like everything else, this "rule" will change too and then we won't have a thing to worry about!!!!

      March 7, 2012 at 7:47 am |
    • MK

      The only reason that birth control was deemed a mortal sin was so that catholics could breed and breed and breed more catholics.

      March 7, 2012 at 8:31 am |
    • KMW

      To Mikithinks,

      I agree. My mother often said that you should only call yourself Catholic when you go to Mass on Sunday. With the Catholic Church having so many Masses to choose from, you do not have an excuse not to attend. If I had been a resident of Ohio, I would have voted for Santorum. I will vote for him In New York City next month. He is very refreshing and I do agree with many of his issues.

      March 7, 2012 at 9:36 am |
  2. Romney Un-Electible

    A "Real" Christian will never vote for Romney....EVER!

    March 7, 2012 at 7:27 am |
    • eliaswittenberg

      A Christian who understood what is at stake – the separation of church and state and the always predictable abuse that follows a merger of the two – would NEVER vote for Santorum.

      March 7, 2012 at 7:35 am |
    • Splash kid

      What does religion have to do with the price of tea in china ?

      March 7, 2012 at 7:38 am |
    • David

      And your definition of Real Christian is? Questioning the religion of others sparked the Inquisition!

      March 7, 2012 at 7:39 am |
    • LeeCMH

      We hope so. Hopefully no Christian will vote in November.

      March 7, 2012 at 7:44 am |
    • Fred Phred

      And that is exactly why Obama will win in the fall. Because you conservatives can't agree on a candidate. I am an independent and will vote for the smartest guy in the room. Unfortunately that rules out Santorum, Gingrich, and Paul.

      I don't want to vote for Obama again, but you're making me want to.

      March 7, 2012 at 7:49 am |
  3. eliaswittenberg

    A lot of Catholics sense that Santorum is one nasty piece of business. Too bad the Protestants in America aren't that smart.

    March 7, 2012 at 7:27 am |
  4. Catholic and Looking for Work

    Most Catholics are more concerned about jobs and the economy than social issues. If we can't feed our families, pay the mortgage and buy food, what else is there? We need a STRONG economy first!
    And with the skyrocketing cost of Catholic education, we can't afford to send our children unless our jobs pay and are secure.

    March 7, 2012 at 7:27 am |
  5. Lizz V.

    This type of decisions are the reason why american's principles and moral, which are the bases in what this country was built, have gone to the toilet. This only shows the "new" way of thinking... and so, it passes the blessed America and so is gone. We can not pretend that God will "bless America" only by singing, our actions towards that need to be seen as well, we can not pretend to be ruled by "In God we trust" if we choose our authorities poorly.

    March 7, 2012 at 7:20 am |
    • guest

      That is all well and good for you Lizz, but I don't believe in your god and I don't care what you say your god wants. And frankly the last thing I want is some politiician telling me we should run our country the way some mythical god wants him to.

      March 7, 2012 at 11:24 am |
  6. wgf

    Most Catholics are not as extreme in their religous views as Santorum - or he Catholic church, for that matter.

    March 7, 2012 at 7:13 am |
  7. Peter

    So Catholics went against Santorum? Catholics? What does that tell you about ACTUAL Catholics and their REAL views birth control?

    March 7, 2012 at 7:11 am |
    • political analist

      Nothing

      March 7, 2012 at 7:21 am |
    • BelgianWoman

      No catholic listens to the pope anymore, so why would Santorum think they would follow HIM?

      March 7, 2012 at 7:27 am |
    • Fred Phred

      It tells you that they have other issues that they feel are more important.

      Like their own family.

      They don't care to meddle in other people's business. Stop trying to force your values on everyone else using the government.

      March 7, 2012 at 8:07 am |
  8. qirin

    The answer is very simple. Santorum arrogantly assumed that he already had the Catholic vote sewn up and decided to go after fundamentalists. Bad move. Catholics remember a time when they were persecuted by fundies and would rather not see the President in their pocket. They understand that separation of church and state is something that actually guarantees their religious freedom.

    March 7, 2012 at 7:08 am |
    • Stuck in the Middle

      Yet another theist that actually understands!
      Note to Santorum, Bachmann, Palin, and the rest of the Christian Taliban. Here's why you'll never succeed in turning America into a theocracy. Most of us understand what america stands for and why it works. You (fundamentalists) do not.

      March 7, 2012 at 7:16 am |
  9. UNITED WE FALL DIVIDED WE STAND

    Its no surprise Santurum won the redneck states! The more you display bigotry and racism as a politician in this country the more the rightwing trailer trash come knocking on your door to throw their support!

    March 7, 2012 at 7:08 am |
  10. Walker

    I was born and raised Catholic. I finally saw the light and am now Atheist. Coming to the realization that most of what churches based their religions on was hypocritical garbage, gave me no other option. The Catholic hierarchy is clearly anti-women, and eschews all intelligent thought regarding birth control. They have no legitimate basis to disallow it, but they do in order to control their women.

    No modern Christian church that I see bothers to even attempt to follow the teachings of Christ.

    March 7, 2012 at 7:08 am |
    • Stuck in the Middle

      [golf clap]

      March 7, 2012 at 7:17 am |
    • JimBeam

      Yes, birth control is GREAT for women!

      http://blogs.findlaw.com/injured/2009/07/lawsuits-allege-yaz-and-yasmin-side-effects.html

      Catholic opposition is completely unintelligent and unreasonable!

      http://www.aboutlawsuits.com/mirena-iud-13909/

      They must just hate women.

      http://money.cnn.com/2005/11/11/news/fortune500/patch/

      March 7, 2012 at 7:42 am |
    • Sashatree

      Agree 100%!

      March 7, 2012 at 11:00 am |
  11. Martina

    My opinion of catholics just greatly improved.

    March 7, 2012 at 7:03 am |
    • KMW

      Martina,

      Thank you and I hope you vote for Santorum.

      March 7, 2012 at 9:39 am |
  12. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things

    March 7, 2012 at 7:02 am |
    • Martina

      Atheism has never hurt anyone, unlike being brainwashed.

      March 7, 2012 at 7:05 am |
    • Walker

      Prayer changes nothing. Doing for yourself changes things.

      March 7, 2012 at 7:09 am |
    • just sayin

      Martina are you forgetting the 24 million atheist Joe Stalin murdered? Or How about Mao or Ho or any of the other atheist leaders who made mass murder the official policy of their governments?

      March 7, 2012 at 7:14 am |
    • Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

      Prayer changes things
      Proven

      March 7, 2012 at 7:15 am |
    • Stuck in the Middle

      Actually a study proved that prayer did nothing. there is no god, we're all going to die some day. Instead of spending all your time trying to get others to think like you do, why not spent it living your life to it's fullest and do what you can to bring happiness to those you love.

      March 7, 2012 at 7:20 am |
    • Philosopher

      What is the basis of that statement? Teaching a child the difference between right and wrong may be accomplished without religion. Atheism does not espouse bad behavior towards other living things. In fact, some religions encourage animal sacrifice as well as harm to fellow man through judgmental doctrines. These doctrines lead to ostracism and abuse from the church members. Gays and lesbians have suffered such abuse for centuries. Perhaps it is religion that is not healthy for children and other living things.

      March 7, 2012 at 7:22 am |
    • just sayin

      Study cited was proven false as soon as it appeared, for honest results study God.

      March 7, 2012 at 7:23 am |
    • pervert alert

      There is no such thing as gay. Gay is a word stolen by sick twisted perverts used to describe their vile and violent lifestyle. ho mos are abuse, their lives are built on abuse and all society suffers from their abuse, especially the young.

      March 7, 2012 at 7:27 am |
    • Jesus

      "Study cited was proven false as soon as it appeared"

      You've been proven a LIAR especially since you and the original poster are the same person.

      March 7, 2012 at 10:55 am |
    • Sashatree

      What a silly post. Prayer is nothing more than people talking to themselves in their heads, or out loud, or with a group of people. The only thing prayer does is provide a psychological pacifier to people who don't have the answer or who don't have the cure... Prayer is nothing more than something you do to make you feel like you're doing something "above and beyond" what you can actually DO as a person, here and now. It is human nature to invent deities so that we can pray to them/rely on them to solve our problems, cure our sick, ease our suffering.

      March 7, 2012 at 11:05 am |
    • ignatz

      Adherence to ideology can harm, and militant atheism is an ideology, however much atheists like to claim it isn't.

      March 7, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
  13. reason

    He calls contraception dangerous and is ok with it being illegal.
    People like Santorum are why we need separation of church and state.

    March 7, 2012 at 6:53 am |
    • Peter

      Very revealing. Now you see ACTUAL Catholics and their REAL views on birth control. They didn't go with Santorum.

      No wonder the Church is nervous and wants to tighten their grip on birth control use.

      March 7, 2012 at 7:18 am |
  14. an84u

    I guess the humble Catholicks are being proselytized by the GoPee Tea Baggot Mormonites...tut...tut...

    March 7, 2012 at 6:52 am |
  15. Jt_flyer

    I'm catholic and I'd NEVER VOTE FOR SANTORUM.
    History, I believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government.  This marks the lowest grade of ignorance, of which their political as well as religious leaders will always avail themselves for their own purpose.  Thomas Jefferson

    March 7, 2012 at 6:52 am |
    • Stuck in the Middle

      at last! a theist that actually gets it.
      Kudos to you!!!

      March 7, 2012 at 7:11 am |
  16. NATHAN WIMBERLY

    They didn't buy the religous liberty lie.

    March 7, 2012 at 6:50 am |
  17. Norma

    Catholics, in spite of the position of the church itself, are very moderate. Most of them dont follow the decrees on contraception,abortion etc, so it is not surprising Romney won their vote.Just as it is not surprising that Sanctorum won the evangelical vote, they are the real crazies these days

    March 7, 2012 at 6:50 am |
    • JimBeam

      Catholics are generally swing voters. They voted for Gore in 2000, Bush in 2004 and Obama in 2008, all by small margins. Despite attempts by the Catholic right to make every election a referendum on abortion, a faithful Catholic would have serious problems with both parties.

      Santorum lost Catholics not because of birth control, but because he is too far to the right to be attractive to most Catholic voters. Romney is close to the center of the political spectrum, which is where most Catholic voters are.

      March 7, 2012 at 7:36 am |
  18. Surellin

    My apologies. I mistook the "Your church sign photo" feature in the right margin for an illustration for the story. My bad.

    March 7, 2012 at 6:49 am |
  19. maggie

    I guess those Ohio catholics like their birth control afterall and didn't much like living in the last century. But Santorum is gonna keep on going....he's in retrograde Alabama next. That'll boost him for Mississippi. Nice.

    March 7, 2012 at 6:48 am |
    • RuralGuy

      Actually Gingrich is going to spoil Santorums day. He seems to be the clear front runner in Mississippi.

      March 7, 2012 at 7:16 am |
  20. BelgianWoman

    I'm a catholic too (well, at least in name: I was baptised), but I would never vote vor this Sanctissimus Sanctorum. At least he has a good name for a catholic!

    March 7, 2012 at 6:46 am |
    • Martina

      He should just become a priest and give up that crazy idea of becoming a president. Nobody want to have an extremist running the country.

      March 7, 2012 at 7:06 am |
    • Jt_flyer

      History, I believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government.  This marks the lowest grade of ignorance, of which their political as well as religious leaders will always avail themselves for their own purpose.  Thomas Jefferson

      March 7, 2012 at 7:11 am |
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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.