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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. jt_flyer

    come on. 39% of republicans claim to attend church services regularly yet church attendance is at 20%. that means 2 of 2 things: 1) virtually no democrats attend church services. 2) a lot of republicans aren't being accurate. Either way its not good for a presidential candidate who's addenda seems to revolve around religion. News flash... Many Catholics use birth control regularly.

    March 7, 2012 at 9:24 am |
    • Harvey

      If one person regularly went to church five times a week (many elderly do) when they stop what percentage and I went once a week and the person who went five times stopped going, what percentage of a reducation would that be? Would it be 50% or 83%. Too many assumptions to draw valid conclusions.

      March 7, 2012 at 10:03 am |
    • Gloria

      Heck, if i know a persons agenda revolves around religion at least I have a good idea of what to expect. So, tell me, what do the other candidates agendas revolve around that you are so sure is preferable. And how do you know what their agendas revolve around- based on what they tell us during a campaign? I'm not for government pushing religion on me but I'm also tired of the idea that religious people are the only ones with poor agendas. Essentially what you are saying is better to vote for an agenda we really do not know than one based on religion no matter if it is good or not for us. Having a problem with religion should not fog your every thought.

      March 7, 2012 at 10:09 am |
  2. vicky Bevis

    ".....................says John Green, a political science professor at the University of Ohio. “

    And just WHERE would that be? Ironic, since when I went to O.U., it had one of the best journalism schools in the country. Journalist Terry Anderson, who was held for several yrs. by terrorists in the middle east in the 80's was teaching there last I knew.

    March 7, 2012 at 9:22 am |
  3. separation

    What I am not understanding is why religion is even a part of this. It seems more and more that we are letting separation of church and state slide. Truly sad

    March 7, 2012 at 9:21 am |
  4. Ron Thompson

    Where does it say that Catholic have to vote for a Catholic, or Atheist have to vote for Atheist? One of the nice things about a "secret" ballot is no one needs to know who you voted for. not all religious people look at things the same way, no matter if you are a Baptist or Atheist! Another question: So what? So far we are in a Republic that allows a difference and the people to have a freedom of choice.

    March 7, 2012 at 9:19 am |
  5. SkyKing

    Is this a surprise?
    Santorum is a whacko, and not all Catholics are.
    Remember, Pennsylvanians FIRED him!
    I have met him personally. WHOAA!! Nut job.

    March 7, 2012 at 9:18 am |
  6. Rob

    What you think is going to happen bashing JFk? Stupid move that was chief.

    March 7, 2012 at 9:16 am |
  7. Nookster

    Most Catholics think evangelicals are nuts. Santorum acting like one will never win over the majority of catholics which are moderate.

    March 7, 2012 at 9:15 am |
    • Mike Jones

      That is not true. Either you are not Catholic or you are a Cafeteria Catholic. There are over 1 Billion Catholics. You can not lump them all as moderate.

      March 7, 2012 at 9:17 am |
    • Brendan, Philadelphia, Pa

      Santorum is confused. Catholics don't believe in Creationism. Catholics don't bring home miscarried babies for a photo-shoot and cuddling time. The guy is creepy and delusional.

      March 7, 2012 at 9:21 am |
    • Laura

      I don't think Catholics overall have the religious bigotry towards Mormons that the overwhelming majority of evangelicals do. I have mostly evangelical friends and they absolutely hate Romney solely because of his religion, which is really stupid. Lost a few friends this election cycle!

      March 7, 2012 at 9:30 am |
    • Laura

      I meant to say Catholics DON"T have the religious bigotry....... Time for glasses!

      March 7, 2012 at 9:32 am |
    • Harvey

      Brendan in PA: you keep writing what Catholics DON'T do. Please, give me a list of what they ALL do. You certainly have a strange issue with Creationsim. I do not have a problem with Creationism and evolution standing side by side. I am not so sure they are mutually exclusive. Where has it been written the method used to create this world, universe...where is the step by step formula used. Is that not what our scientists are seekign to find out and reporting to us. The whole argument reminds me of a story where two little old men were walking along a dirt road and off to the side one says..."oh, look...a loaf of bread." The other stoops down, picks it up and states aloud, "Look what the creator has left for us." The first man looks quizzically at him and responds, "There is no creator. This simply fell off the bakers cart." to which his friend replied after much head scratching and thought, "So that's how he does it." European scientists believe they are about to find the 'God Particle." and explain the fundamentals of the universe. Does this blow creationsim up or give us a glimpse of perhaps how it was created. The argument is silly, we will never know. After all, once we know this, then we must get to other universes to see if what we hypothesis is correct. Many people hold ther dead babies for a quicker healing. Many people rock their dead loved once when they can. Is this a Catholic or human thing?

      March 7, 2012 at 10:00 am |
    • Brendan, Philadelphia, Pa

      Harvey, I don't discount God's hand in creation, but Creationists and Santorum believe in Genesis and people living with dinosaurs and the world only being several thousand years old. He cites Adam and Eve in the literal sense when discounting gay marriage. You have to disbelieve carbon-dating and all manner of science to believe what he believes. Science definitely "blows" that up.

      March 7, 2012 at 10:14 am |
  8. Betty

    Really? What a surprise...LOL. There is nothing about the members of the Catholic church that ties them together other than wanting to remain members of a church they were raised in even though they disagree with the pope and do not follow the teachings of the church. Certainly this is not true of all. There are many fine members who are truly Catholic in every sense of the word and belief but there are also very fine people who are Catholic and no more Catholic than a non-catholic. Essentially, are exactly like the Republican party in that they are not unified in practice or philosophy. Clearly, if one pays attention, very many people who refer to themselves as Catholics do not follow the teachings of the church and are Catholic in name only. The real story is How does a Republican Catholic ever win when he more than likely will never carry those of his religion if he follows the teachings of his religion. Now that would be a story worth writing and reading.

    March 7, 2012 at 9:14 am |
    • Phil OSF

      Betty, grandslam homer with the question and story suggestion at he end of your piece. Catholics used to be accused of spending too much of their time thinking of heaven and not things of earth, now it has reversed. Read the lives of some of the greatest saints in the Catholic history – they were grounded in both realities.

      March 7, 2012 at 9:29 am |
  9. Mike Jones

    As a Roman Catholic would I like to see a RC President?

    Yes. But even more so, I would like to see Obama gone !

    March 7, 2012 at 9:14 am |
  10. Joe B

    Sanitorium is a kook for most Catholics

    March 7, 2012 at 9:14 am |
    • Wildur

      That is becasue most Catholics are Catholic in name only and reject the teachings of the church and the Pope. To those people, any Catholic who does respect the teachings and attempts to follow them and live them would be labelled a kook by many 'Catholics'. This is America. It is not about what you believe or how you live, it is what you simply want.

      March 7, 2012 at 9:17 am |
    • Brendan, Philadelphia, Pa

      It's because Catholic teaching does not include Creationism, as Mr. Santorum believes. He has a very warped sense of Catholicism and personal morality. By his own definition of abortion, there should have been no intervention during the time his infant was miscarried and his wife should have been allowed to die.

      March 7, 2012 at 9:23 am |
  11. Victoria

    Santorum is a hypocrite and a phony on his Catholicism. He picks and chooses what Catholic issues he envelops. For example, the Catholic Church is against the death penalty, supportive of programs to help the poor, supportive of environmental protection (God's creation), and against war in most instances. You never hear this phony Catholic, Santorum, talk about these issues unless they are counter to Catholic teaching. That is why he lost.

    March 7, 2012 at 9:13 am |
    • Wilbur

      Wow...sometimes I think we just throw words like republican, democrat, liberal, conservative, around becasue they were in a Dr. Zeus book read to us when we were small. So Jesus was a liberal because he helped and spoke for the poor. He supposedly said to teach the poor how to fish so they could feed themselves to be 'self' sufficient becasue he new the government would control him otherwise. So, he took a Republican idea and then he also fed them – a democrat idea. The proof is in the pudding- where did he wish to lead them? To be reliant or self-sufficient? Stop with the stupid labels- it is a very simplistic way to view the world and I think it is a bit more complex. At least for me. 🙂

      March 7, 2012 at 9:37 am |
    • salt

      Wilbur... a question... where are you quoting the teach them to fish from? That is not in the bible... not saying it is not good common sense because it is but I would like to know where it is in the bible. I don't recall that being one of Jesus' teachings. I may be wrong and welcome the correction if I am.

      March 7, 2012 at 10:01 am |
  12. Benjamin Golan

    The Novus Ordo Vatican II Roman Catholics are compromised. First they vote for obamacon, no obamney? A liberal by definition cannot be a Christian. Romney is a fraud, and he has no chance against the current fraud-in-chief. Say hi to another 4 years of Hell, and the end of our Republic.

    March 7, 2012 at 9:08 am |
    • DaveinSC

      Please don't stand up until the ride comes to a complete stop.

      March 7, 2012 at 9:13 am |
    • will

      The Catholic Bishops are a joke! They haven't got enough influence to fix a parking ticket.

      March 7, 2012 at 9:15 am |
    • Bee

      You need to rethink your comment about liberals not being Christian by definition. Do you think Jesus was a right-wing conservative? Of course, Jesus was a liberal. He spoke for the poor and downtrodden members of society. He certainly did not favor the rich and powerful! You have it backwards. Christians are liberal by definition. Anyone who does not understand this doesn't understand the basic message of Christianity.

      March 7, 2012 at 9:17 am |
    • jesusisdemocrat

      Be very affraid. There are way more Christian democrats than you think, and most democratic issues are Christian concerns. Hell is in the mind of the beholder.

      March 7, 2012 at 9:21 am |
    • Benjamin's dad

      C'mon, boy, I told you to think first before shootin' from the hip. Define 'definition' before you say silly things. Your mom just rolled her eyes again. You're just gonna git a lot of flak from people much smarter than you when you use these big words.

      March 7, 2012 at 9:22 am |
    • Mel

      As a Roman Catholic, I was curious what my Jewish neighbor who had survived the Jewish holocaust during World War Two thought of the man I called My Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. She said she thought Jesus was a good man, perhaps a prophet, but a very good man. The only criticism she had about Jesus was that she considered him to be a very liberal socialist, and being the conservative that she was, she did not like liberal socialists!

      March 7, 2012 at 9:22 am |
    • Benjamin Golan

      Spiritual Exercises of St.Ignacius of Loyola:Fourth Commandment – "Have you ever taken part with a disaffected and seditious (revolutionary activities)." HAVE YOU EVER JOINED a COMMUNIST or LIBERAL ASSOCIATION?" These are are sins!
      But of course you liberals will just explain this away? I guess you and those gay priests will continue to destroy the Church from within? You liberals have nothing to do with freedom, and you are a threat to this country, it is plain to see for anyone capable of thinking for themselves.

      March 7, 2012 at 9:33 am |
    • salt

      That darker skinned socialist who gives away food and free health care... and cares for the poor and otherwise rejected of society is not President Obama... it is Jesus.

      March 7, 2012 at 9:34 am |
    • Mel

      Many centuries ago the Catholic Church put to death (or ordered for them to be put to death) for believing the earth was round rather than flat. Many scientists were put to death for believing the earth was round as a result. Mr. Golan, since you think "saint" Ignacious 's "commandments" should be obeyed, would you also like to bring back the Catholic theology that declared the earth was flat? By the way, I went to Catholic School and those" blaphemous" nuns taught me that the earth was round. We even had a globe in the classroom. Those sinful women!

      March 7, 2012 at 3:21 pm |
  13. Natalie Neilsen

    Most catholics are intellegent, and believe in the "seperation of church and state"...That's one of the reasons a lot of catholics vote democrat....I wouldn't be surprised if Santorum loses most of the catholic vote.....

    March 7, 2012 at 9:08 am |
    • c

      A Catholic who believes no one other than the Pope speaks for God and a Morman who believes Joseph Smith dug up the morman bible in a hole in the ground in Palymyra, NY.. Geesz Louise.

      March 7, 2012 at 9:12 am |
    • Jeff N

      So does Santorum, you nitwit. Most Catholics couldn't write on the head of a pin in crayon what the Church teaches, and they despise a devout Catholic.

      March 7, 2012 at 9:16 am |
    • B. F.

      I'm really getting tired of the FALSE premise of "separation of church and state". First Amendment: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof". It says NOTHING about how faith and religion have to be taken out of or excluded from government. Only that our Federal Government cannot make a law to establish a nationally sanctioned religion as the U.S. official religion; such as Catholicism, or Baptist, or Judaism.

      March 7, 2012 at 9:27 am |
  14. Diane

    We don't trust Romney.

    March 7, 2012 at 9:01 am |
  15. Steve the Atheist

    Let's call for a new vote. Who would win in a fight; Santorum's imaginary friend or Romney's imaginary friend?

    March 7, 2012 at 8:59 am |
    • William Demuth

      My monies on Team Allah!

      The suicide bombers can wreak hovoc with the Mormon defensive line.

      March 7, 2012 at 9:02 am |
    • Joe T.

      A candidates religious belief should NOT factor into your decision. That is, as long as they are willing to leave their religion at the door. Santorum said he would not be willing to do that. Romney seems more like his being Mormon wouldn't impact his decision making.

      That being said, I hate them both for a variety of reasons.

      March 7, 2012 at 9:04 am |
    • I = rubber, U = glue

      Man, that would be a sweet video game. I would totally buy "Immortal Kombat" for Xbox 360.

      March 7, 2012 at 9:14 am |
    • B. F.

      Comment to Joe T.: I hear what you are saying. But it cannot be denied that this country is in a real desperate situation of self-destruction. This is because our past presidents (since Kennedy) have left their faith at the door of the Oval Office. (Of course we have a president right now who does not show his faith by example; only by meaningless words.) True, natural, God given morals seem to have stayed at the door as well. So as a nation, we cannot decipher what is truly the best judgment for the prosperity of our country; and thus the reason for the tail spin that we are in right now; all because of the mentality of leaving our faith at the door.

      Presenting justified morals that are faith based are not the same as forcing them upon us. I don't think that Rick Santorum is forcing his beliefs on us, just presenting them as part of who he is. That is an imperative requirement of who the next president should be. (By the way I do like Romney as a GOP nominee as well.) I do not want another president who has no morals (like B. O.). So our GOP nominee needs to have a SOLID moral base and he/she should make it clear in their campaign.

      March 7, 2012 at 10:09 am |
  16. UNITED WE FALL DIVIDED WE STAND

    @uhm

    Perhaps you don't understand why I used the word impeached!!! I said impeached sarcastically simply because during the Libyan crisis, as a Democrat, Dennis Kucinich was the only person in congress Democrat or Republican who said openly and without restraint that President Obama should be impeached for our involvement in Libya. And I may add that Kucinich was referring to our involvement in a legitimate UN sanctioned Libyan mission to protect civilians against the brutal Ghadaffi regime. And I will gladly reiterate that Dennis Kucinish is a TRAITOR simply because when GWB lied to the American people about bogus WMD's in Iraq and murdered thousands of our troops in the process, Dennis Kucinish never once mentioned the word IMPEACHMENT in the same sentence with GWB's name. Yes, Dennis Kucinich is a TRAITOR and a blatant BOGOT and a RACIST!

    March 7, 2012 at 8:59 am |
  17. cantilever

    You know, it's all a matter of perspective, isn't it? The Alaska town of St. Mary (see Frontline) was destroyed by the Catholic Church, suffering pedophilic abuse of 80% of its population by a priest and church deacon, and all of it was covered up by the Pope-appointed hierarchy. Ditto parts of Ireland, and ditto communities all over. The hierarchy itself is riddled with pedophiles and their henchmen. Santorum is not a private Catholic, he's a mouthpiece for one of the rottenest and most corrupt corporations in history, the Vatican.

    March 7, 2012 at 8:58 am |
    • William Demuth

      Which I might add is a foreign power in no way loyal to the US.

      You see Rick hides his treason behind the cult!

      March 7, 2012 at 9:00 am |
    • Jeff N

      Wow. You mixed your Koolaid a little strong, fellers. 80% of the population? Really? By two men? That is some kind of stamina! Now go put on your tinfoil hats and snuggle up to watch the Divinci Code together.

      March 7, 2012 at 9:18 am |
    • cantilever

      Nice sneer, Jeff, but no cigar. A town can be as small as 1000 people. PBS stands by the claims made on Frontline– eighty percent of the people in that native village were abused by the 2 criminals in charge of the local Catholic church (the abuse lasted an entire generation).

      March 7, 2012 at 10:04 am |
  18. Hemuda

    Candidate plays religious card then media highlight it. The real issues are job job and job. No candidate has substantive plan. At least as a president Obama is in position to do something and he should get chance to continue his policies for another term. I won't trust GOP candidates on doing something significant.

    Why there is so much talk of religion when we are supposed to be a secular country preaching secularism to every country in the world. We sound bunch of hypocrite. That is why poor Bobi Jindal had to convert to Christianity to become governor.

    March 7, 2012 at 8:58 am |
  19. Real Ohioan

    Newsflash CNN – There is no "University of Ohio." Check your facts.

    March 7, 2012 at 8:57 am |
    • irishlake

      Um yeah, CNN – do some editorial work. Ohio University, Ohio State University, Ohio Northern University, Ohio Dominican University, Ohio Christian University, Ohio Weslyan University – all exist. University of Ohio? Not so much.

      March 7, 2012 at 9:13 am |
  20. Dan586

    What amazes me is that agnostics and atheist always more more about the Bible then so called Christians.. So called Christians have not read the Bible because you can tell by their comments. While Agnostics and Atheist have read a lot because they can quote the Bible with more understanding.

    March 7, 2012 at 8:56 am |
    • William Demuth

      Keep your freinds close and your enemies closer.

      March 7, 2012 at 8:58 am |
    • jimtanker

      So called xtians = no true Scotsman.

      March 7, 2012 at 9:07 am |
    • Phil OSF

      Your use of the universal in your argument negates your premise. Have you full knowledge of the lack of Bible reading and knowledge by the experience of interviewing each and eveyone of the approximately two billion plus Christians in the world?
      I am a layperson, not a cleric or theologian, and I read and study the Bible vigorously. I refrain from making ad hominen attacks in comment sections on website. Name calling is childish and non-intellectual. Think before you write and consider if you really want those who read you to focus on your impulsivness or your ideas. Further backgound reference: I am a teacher of rhetoric and argument.

      March 7, 2012 at 9:47 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.