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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.

Delegate tracker | Delegate calculator

“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. Doug

    Why would anyone be a Catholic? The entire system is hilarious. (Full disclosure: I was born and raised Catholic. Catholic grade school, high school, and Jesuit university).

    March 7, 2012 at 9:42 am |
    • William Demuth

      Because once a childs mind is poisoned, it is hard to unpoison them

      March 7, 2012 at 9:46 am |
    • Doug

      I agree, William. Plus, the social stigma of being an atheist isn't pretty. I don't want to eat your children and yes, I do have morals. I just get them from what has worked in history and great societies.

      March 7, 2012 at 9:50 am |
  2. TRH

    JFK was right. So were the founders. There is no other way. Keep your religion in your home and your church....NO WHERE else. Sorry, that's just a cold hard fact. Otherwise, this country is truly doomed.

    March 7, 2012 at 9:41 am |
    • William Demuth

      Home schooling is leading the way.

      Kids being hidden away from reality and brainwashed.

      We need to reconsider what we define as child abuse, because frankly some religious behavior seems patently abusive in my eyes.

      We do NOT want America becoming Afghanistan.

      March 7, 2012 at 9:45 am |
    • Doug

      I love how people can't see the difference between a theocracy in Iran and a theocracy in America. Both holy books are heinous works that offer punishments of death for out dated ideas (working on Sundays, wearing clothes of 2 types of materials, etc). If we want to use the bible to run this country, we would have to put those people to death.

      March 7, 2012 at 9:47 am |
  3. DeeNYC

    Santorum rallies against a woman's right to choose, unless it affects him. He and his wife chose to have an abortion. Then took the fetus home and introduced it to his kids. I may be wrong but he may be too crazy even for hard core catholics.

    March 7, 2012 at 9:41 am |
    • Doug

      Did you read that interview he did in 1995 where he admitted he was pro-choice until he ran for Congress? Then he was forced to be pro-life or he wouldn't have had a chance.

      March 7, 2012 at 9:44 am |
  4. Harry Baxter

    I've been a practicing Catholic since I was born, and I'll take a Mormon over a crazy fanatical Catholic any time.

    March 7, 2012 at 9:41 am |
    • paul

      I agree.... Santorum is a fanatic and lunatic! ....

      March 7, 2012 at 9:46 am |
    • Doug

      Harry, do you mind if I ask a personal question? Do you ACTUALLY believe the tenets of Catholicism or do you just adhere to it because it's what you've always done (a habit, if you will)?

      March 7, 2012 at 9:52 am |
  5. FormerTeaPartyPerson from Bloomington, IL

    I am Catholic, and I attend Mass almost on a daily basis. I have a Santorum bumper sticker on my back window that I need to remove. In Illinois we have early voting and I was the first to vote in our county. I just could not get myself to vote for Santorum, I voted for Romney, because he is the least offending of all the Republicans. Yes, the "throw-up" comment about JFK, and the "snob" comment caused me almost to throw-up! Plus, I don't want a President that is a fanatic about religion in the White House. I don't care what religion he or she professes!

    March 7, 2012 at 9:40 am |
  6. mike

    Probably because he speaks like an extremist Southern Baptist.

    March 7, 2012 at 9:39 am |
    • William Demuth

      He does ooze redneck dosen't he?

      I am waiting for the scandal, cause being THAT pompus, you KNOW one is coming.

      Maybe a tell all book from one of his kids, or his wife dumping him for a man from the 21st century

      March 7, 2012 at 9:42 am |
    • Jeepers

      I was raised Southern Baptist and yes, they can be pretty extreme, but at least they're cool with birth control. When I got married, our preacher brought it up in the pre-marriage counseling sessions we had to attend. I think I told him we already had that under control. Awkward.

      March 7, 2012 at 9:44 am |
  7. Mick

    Why are we surprised? Most Catholics in Ohio are liberals and do not see things or live their lives based on the tenants of the "faith." Likewise, Check and see how many of these "Catholics" have been to mass since they were made to go as kids. They call themselves "Catholics" only because they were born into a Catholic family not because they are. Anyone who does not know this is ingnorant of the Catholic demographic.

    March 7, 2012 at 9:39 am |
  8. W

    As a Catholic, the last thing I need is one more person in authority dogmatically telling me what's right and wrong. I get that on Sundays.

    March 7, 2012 at 9:38 am |
    • robert waligora

      you'd rather listen to your own mis-informed conscience, than the CHURCH of 2000 years

      March 7, 2012 at 9:46 am |
  9. afmcalax

    What the Catholic hierarchy and the out of touch journalists don't realize in that most Catholics are not ultra-conservative and do not follow the wishes of the Pope, his Cardinals, or the Bishops. Santorum represents a brand of Catholicism they reject. Catholics by a large margin have rejected the church on birth control. A great majority believe in equal rights for women. And most tolerate the Gay request for marriage; even if they disagree with the lifestyle. If you polled a church service on any Sunday, you would find 80-90 percent fo Catholics at the service more because it is routine; not because they actually back the church.

    March 7, 2012 at 9:36 am |
  10. aaron

    MOST Catholics don't know what they believe in the first place - no surprise there! Great Job. Vote for the guy with the magic underwear, who think Jesus and Satan are brothers, and plans to populate the planet Colob after this life...and it goes on.

    March 7, 2012 at 9:36 am |
  11. Laura Beissel

    Excuse me....Catholics United does not speak for the Catholic Church. THEY ARE A LIBERAL SECT OF THE CHURCH. ALL you people out there that "claim" to be Catholic...wise up and start practicing your faith the way you should...follow her teachings...OUR WAYS ARE NOT GOD'S WAYS!!!!! You liberal Catholic's think we should change with the times...we don't change with God's ways!!!!!!!!!!! Romney likely won because he is the strongest candidate to beat Obama. Although, if people voted the way they should, they would vote Santorum....that is who God would want that is for sure!!!!!!!!!

    March 7, 2012 at 9:35 am |
    • bigot

      "OUR WAYS ARE NOT GOD'S WAYS!!!!! "

      Well sadly, you do not know gods ways either. You speculate and if you reference the bible, then gods ways are technically our ways considering man wrote the bible

      March 7, 2012 at 9:40 am |
    • KMW

      Laura,

      I am also a practicing Catholic and totally agree with you. I will definitely vote for Santorum. Some of the people in our Church are just too darn liberal. Our country has become too liberal over the years and I want someone to bring us back to reality.

      March 7, 2012 at 9:45 am |
    • mat

      Laura, do not worry, internet falsifies reality.
      In the United States there are so many real Catholics, totally with Jesus and in his Church.
      There are also some false Catholics, as everywhere and in any religion.
      And in internet there are also the trolls.

      March 7, 2012 at 9:46 am |
    • TRH

      You just can't admit that your entire belief "system" is based on myth, can you? You're in denial.

      March 7, 2012 at 9:51 am |
    • wakeups

      Laura, you are a twit. We live in a society that is GOVERNED by the laws of man, with an eye toward equality and a balance of license vs. liberty. A large part of the very earliest impetus to create this nation was FREEDOM OF RELIGION to worship in our own homes and churches as we please. I can create the church of the gay alien poop covered dead fetus worshipers if i want, because this is America. Furthermore, the WORD OF GOD: if you happen to read well in Aramaic, ancient Hebrew/Greek or even Latin, I will listen to your criticism of the rest of us via the word of God. But since you obviously do not have that type of intelligence, keep your opinions to yourself. You read from a book corrupted by generations of men, translated at least 6 times over. This is no longer the word of God, and does not even necessarily contain the original sentiments (again, written by men). Tell the Branch Davidians I said hi.

      March 7, 2012 at 9:57 am |
  12. Primewonk

    Benjamin Golan wrote, " A liberal by definition cannot be a Christian."

    WHAT??? Your Jesus was the biggest liberal of all time. Somehow his image became this perverted cross between Chuck Heston and Arnold Schwarzenegger, with the 10 commandments in one arm, and an Uzi in the other.

    If your Christ waled into a tea bagger rally, not only wouldn't you folks recognize him, you'd crucify him again.

    March 7, 2012 at 9:33 am |
    • Bill Turner

      Jesus taught charity and compassion, not forcing someone to give something to others through the threat of law. Just because someone doesn't want the government to do it does not mean the won't do it themselves. Christ was focused on the character of what a man does because of his character not because of what he is forced to do.

      March 7, 2012 at 11:02 am |
  13. BobZemko

    Jesus, save me from your follwers.

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

      awesome.

      March 7, 2012 at 10:04 am |
  14. Jeepers

    Oh man...what does it say that other Catholics won't vote for the uber-Catholic guy? I'm imagining them thinking..."I go to mass and act like a good Catholic...but I don't actually BELIEVE what they're saying. That guy must be nuts."

    March 7, 2012 at 9:32 am |
  15. demo joseph

    Thank God... cause this man is a nut. Talking about birth control and women as he does I would hope no one of the faith would vote for him. How is birth control an issue for a presidential hopeful. He is a nut. Great for OHIO Catholics!!!!!!
    We catholics can decide on our faith and our lives with his input. NUT

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

      "How is birth control an issue for a presidential hopeful"

      Its an issue because there are many other religious nutjobs out there that really care about this issue. He needs votes

      March 7, 2012 at 9:42 am |
  16. mrprincipal03

    Since his time as a U. S. Senator, Rick has never distinguished himself as a representative of all the people. His narrow self interest and logic challenged statements have not helped him. If he is so concerned that religion is being given a backseat, I would urge him to set the example by practicing his christian teachings beginning with " love one another" as Jesus called us to do. That's the kind of example I could respect. Non of us is perfect, but living the best we can by these principles is better than spouting off all over the country and it would speak volumes for the man.

    March 7, 2012 at 9:31 am |
  17. Will

    Southerners are dopes. Curse our ancestors for not letting them secede when they wanted to - to hell with them

    March 7, 2012 at 9:31 am |
    • William Demuth

      No

      They just need to be reeducated.

      Perhaps we needs to let the blacks run the show for them for a while, just to remind them that they lost.

      March 7, 2012 at 9:39 am |
  18. Mass media

    What importance is given for an article based on nothing....
    Is normal for the media.

    March 7, 2012 at 9:27 am |
  19. Tom

    Coming from a catholic family, we disagree with Santorum on a lot of things. We don't care if women use or have access to birth control, it's their choice. We care more about men wearing condoms because it's safer. And we've also grown with the times, learning that regulating it doesn't work, people will do it regardless, you just want them to do it safer. We definitely care about following the bible; however, and Jesus fed the poor and helped the sick. Santorum doesn't agree with Jesus on 70% of issues, and that's why my family isn't voting Santorum.

    March 7, 2012 at 9:26 am |
    • Richard

      If you don't agree with the church on contraception and womens health care, leave the church like I did last week after 35 years as a Catholic.

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

      A refreshing comment!

      March 7, 2012 at 9:32 am |
    • dogs rule

      Jesus isn't running for President, you m0ron

      March 7, 2012 at 9:35 am |
    • Vera Waitress

      Richard, so soon?

      March 7, 2012 at 9:56 am |
    • Joan

      Well said, Tom.

      March 7, 2012 at 9:56 am |
    • Vera Waitress

      God doesn't care if you follow that mortal-penned book. Jesus didn't write it. And God didn't either. He may have influenced it, but he didn't write it. Write your own.

      March 7, 2012 at 9:59 am |
  20. separation

    I will be voting ,but not by my religious views. If I did that, there is not one that would have a chance

    March 7, 2012 at 9:25 am |
    • William Demuth

      I agree

      Without Satan on the ballot, what's the point!

      Beelzebub just dosen't support my values well enough

      March 7, 2012 at 9:27 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.