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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. Vera Waitress

    This whole religion thing is adumbrating the fact that the largest base of Republican voters is people in military and defense jobs, without regard to how incompetent the candidate is. Romney and Santorum are proof. Sad.

    March 7, 2012 at 10:08 am |
  2. Tom O'Reilly

    I hope the Bishops are reading this article and some of these comments. It should be a wake up call to them. They're focusing for 50 years (since Vatican II) on the humanitarian issues, rather than leading the children of God to salvation, have gotten them what they should have expected–a flock of Socialistically-bent Catholics that see sin as only being that which society and the lamestream media agrees is "sin". Many sould will be lost because of these Bishops, and God will demand an accounting.

    March 7, 2012 at 10:05 am |
    • William Demuth

      Wasn't Jeebus a socialist?

      March 7, 2012 at 10:11 am |
  3. Benjamin Golan

    Liberals simply cannot be Christian, or Roman Catholic. So those who voted for Romney or voted for the obamacon, they are simply not Catholic. 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 10:05 am |
    • William Demuth

      Benjie

      You are clueless

      Jesus was a revolutionary socialist who overthrew the rulling elites.

      You don't even understand the basics about your supposed savior do you?

      March 7, 2012 at 10:13 am |
    • Jim

      On the contrary, everything Jesus preached bordered on communal (or how most of your frighten folks call it Communism) living. 1.) Giving to the poor, 2.) sharing with one another, 3.) equality, etc. Here's a direct quote, Matthew 19:21
      Jesus answered, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me. I also believe he once said it's easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a meedle than for a rich man to reach heaven. Develop your argument more with better examples.

      March 7, 2012 at 10:24 am |
    • fred

      Jesus also said if a man does not work he shal not eat. Look who lines up at the public give aways

      Now, as to communism this only works when there is unity in Christ. Communism does not work outside of complete unitiy in thought and heart. This is why God allows capitalism and socialism – people cannot be one without God (the same God) and will never believe the other guy deserves more than they do. Jesus was speaking to his disciples and they had given their bodies over to Christ. The average democrat gives less than 1% to help others and keeps the rest for himself.

      March 7, 2012 at 10:43 am |
  4. anne g. isakson

    the reason he won is that he knows all religious people are under attack from the elite main stream media.

    March 7, 2012 at 10:01 am |
    • Corwin7

      Ummm...He DIDN'T win sweetheart...he lost by double digits...remember READ the article THEN comment. Maybe you should go back to Fox news dear...

      March 7, 2012 at 10:26 am |
  5. Catholics

    Article poor.
    How many trolls anti-Catholis and anti-Santorum here....

    March 7, 2012 at 10:01 am |
  6. Vera Waitress

    Santorum is like Jesus– he opens his mouth and people want to string him up. Both Santorum and Jesus lack political skill.

    March 7, 2012 at 10:01 am |
  7. Ann

    Catholics are not idiots. They can see through Santorum and his 'virgin' wife who are nothing but hypocrites.

    March 7, 2012 at 10:00 am |
    • Vera Waitress

      Actually, it's kind of true about welfare abuse. My friend says that his sister gets $2,700 a month on welfare, they bought her a new car, but she's perfectly capable of working.

      March 7, 2012 at 10:04 am |
  8. Last Call

    What does a Catholic then stand for if you can't support a Catholic who actually practices his faith? Just call yourselves atheists already.

    March 7, 2012 at 9:58 am |
    • sarah

      Can't really. Once you're born into the Church, only the Church can tell you when you aren't a Catholic anymore.

      March 7, 2012 at 10:02 am |
    • J.W

      I don't think that that is really true about any Christian faith I have seen. But it would be silly to vote for someone just because he is the same religion as you. Its like 'well he may drive our country into the ground but at least he goes to the same church as me.'

      March 7, 2012 at 10:12 am |
  9. MaryM

    Santorms views are way to extreme for Moderate Repubs. Pack it up Santorum

    March 7, 2012 at 9:58 am |
  10. Randy, San Francisco

    Isn't it obvious? Many Catholics don't agree with Santorum on social/religious issues.

    March 7, 2012 at 9:57 am |
  11. Jean

    Santorum [nearly] makes me throw up, too.

    March 7, 2012 at 9:55 am |
  12. CTCatholic

    He does NOT represent the Catholics.

    March 7, 2012 at 9:53 am |
  13. Christina Johnson

    I'll be voting based on Christian teachings. That being said, I probably shouldn't cast my vote for someone who can talk and talk about marriage without mentioning love, or someone who doesn't care about who they deemed to be "the very poor".

    March 7, 2012 at 9:52 am |
  14. 6km n of ground zero

    James Salt is a Catholic. Santorum, less Catholic and more Religiousfundamentalistic.

    March 7, 2012 at 9:51 am |
  15. tony

    Born Catholics are smarter than converts.

    March 7, 2012 at 9:47 am |
    • t

      "Smarter"?
      From what I have seen, most born Catholics are taught their faith in religion classes when they are youth, and a lot of it is not retained into adulthood. Converts however, take religion classes during the RCIA program as adults so they learn things that many born Catholics have forgotten. Some adult born Catholics still take Bible study and other courses in adulthood but it's a very small percentage.

      March 7, 2012 at 9:54 am |
    • Observer

      tony, such fine distinctions are hard to make and not useful. Smartest to avoid the Roman Church altogether.

      March 7, 2012 at 9:56 am |
  16. derp

    You know you are crazy, when you are too crazy for the catholics.

    March 7, 2012 at 9:46 am |
  17. Lawrence Austin

    Study after study has demonstrated that the majority of U.S. Catholics do not follow the most conservative teachings of the church - not on birth control, especially. The bishops may be benighted, but there flock is more enlightened.

    March 7, 2012 at 9:45 am |
    • Bob N

      Right on, most call themselves that by name only..Very skewed poll to say the least.

      March 7, 2012 at 9:48 am |
    • Robert

      What Santorum does not understand is that most Catholics are CEO's (Christmas Easter Only).

      March 7, 2012 at 10:01 am |
    • Miler Man

      The C & E Catholics are in name only so they should not really count as part of the demographic.

      Just because a supposed majority of Catholics do not follow the teachings doesn't change the teachings. It is called free will. They can also change their mind behave differently. Happens all the time.

      March 7, 2012 at 10:11 am |
  18. t

    This story is misleading. The conservative Catholics, who still practice their religion live in the rural counties. Those counties overwhemlingly voted for Santorum. The metropolitan areas are the ones in which Romney took – the cities tend to attract the liberals. We always see this in Ohio's voting.

    March 7, 2012 at 9:45 am |
  19. Ralph in Orange Park, FL

    There is a difference between a religious person and a church-nazi. Most of the Ohio Catholics apparently figured out which Rick Santorum is.

    March 7, 2012 at 9:45 am |
  20. Julia Native American

    I am Catholic and no way would I vote for Romney or any other Republican, I am a working widowed mother and any working widowed mother or any other mother that would vote Repub is like a chicken votin' for the Colonel Sanders. Obama 2012, the workers' President. Workers of the World Unite for Demcracy for all.

    March 7, 2012 at 9:44 am |
    • Catholic

      I'm sorry Julia, but you cannot be Catholic AND vote for Obama. If you were Catholic, you would know why.

      March 7, 2012 at 9:58 am |
    • Tom

      Keep on working because you need to. Your darling obama wants and needs you to spport all the butt sitters on welfare. Think of that the next time you see someone with a grocery cart full of goodies and whipping out an ebt card, and driving away in a car you could never afford.

      March 7, 2012 at 9:59 am |
    • Josh (Denver, CO)

      Julia, you are "Catholic" but would never vote for a Republican, which odds are is going to be pro-life? Good luck waiting for a pro-life Democratic presidential candidate, and good luck explaining that to God...

      March 7, 2012 at 9:59 am |
    • sarah

      Catholics are also taught that the death penalty is wrong. They're taught that war is wrong. They're also taught to be sympathetic to the very poor including illegals. They're taught to care about social welfare and support it. As long as they're voting with their conscience, there is no rule that says Catholics have to vote a certain way.

      March 7, 2012 at 10:11 am |
    • *facepalm*

      Ah, you silly single-issue voters. A Catholic Democrat could easily explain a vote for a pro-choice candidate to a deity in this way:

      -I refused to let my vote be held hostage. The pro-life movement has made no significant gains in decades. I chose not to believe the rhetoric issued from the conservative right because I believed that the right needed my vote, and absent of a pro-life stance, I didn't see much else I could support morally from that party. It seemed far more compassionate to support a party that worked to support those less fortunate that me.

      March 7, 2012 at 10:16 am |
    • fred

      Facepalm
      My eyes are open and I have been set free by the truth. The truth that the democrat party has been jerking Catholics around on the false sound bite they are compassionate and care for the poor. The truth is poverty has increased every year under this democratic leadership, truth they have taken from our children and grandchildren and given our hard earned money to the rich on wallstreet, truth they now have 47 million Americans on food stamps because they took money from hard working people and gave it away overseas, truth they are all hard core environmentalists that shut down oil driving prices at the pump to $5 a gallon, truth they carry Bibles in public view but mock Catholic Bishops and Pope, truth they took hard earned money from people that pay their mortgages and gave discounts to slum lords to prop up rents, truth they took 400 million away from Medicare doctors and gave it to the union health plans, truth they saddled small business with the cost of heath care while cutting deals exempting themselves and union lobby.

      March 7, 2012 at 10:32 am |
    • Roger

      "The truth is poverty has increased every year under this democratic leadership, truth they have taken from our children and grandchildren and given our hard earned money to the rich on wallstreet"

      Wow are you an idiot. Obama has been picking up the mess from the last administration. Everything you are blaming him for should be directed at the Bush administration. You wouldn't know the truth if it bit you in the azz. By the way lying is a sin.

      March 7, 2012 at 10:35 am |
    • *facepalm*

      You're right fred. Let's instead give tax breaks to the uber-wealthy, cut off welfare and unemployment assistance, cut social services funding while simultaneously making family planning more difficult and, just for kicks, pour untold amounts of money into stockpiling weapons. Good call.

      March 7, 2012 at 10:39 am |
    • fred

      facepalm
      Hello, reading comprehension anyone? Did I say that or did you just assume that is what I really wanted to say?

      March 7, 2012 at 10:46 am |
    • Josh (Denver, CO)

      @Sarah and @facepalm

      That is true, but that begs the question: when there are 1 million abortions EVERY YEAR, you have to explain how the sum of those other issues listed is greater than abortion. I too am against capital punishment, my fiance is Mexican and do not like Santorum's stance on immigration, so and so forth. So simple to label me a "single issue voter" but you see, I have thought about this. Let's hear your justification based on my response........

      March 7, 2012 at 10:47 am |
    • *facepalm*

      Josh – I think you miss my point. Abortion isn't going away – the right has zero incentive to make any progress on it at all. You vote pro-life, but its a wasted vote because the pro-life movement is destined to fail for the exact reasons you outlined. It seems that, taking away abortion, you'd vote for the left. This is precisely why it is in the best interest of the right to keep up talking the talk without walking the walk. You're in a cath-22 – you're voting for something that isn't going to happen.

      March 7, 2012 at 10:51 am |
    • Josh (Denver, CO)

      facepalm, if you don't believe something will change then it will never change. It starts with belief. It is apparent that if you vote for someone who is pro-choice you are not going to see laws outlawing partial birth abortions, for example, something that actually the majority of people are against. You have to start somewhere and if your explanation to God is that it was "never going to change, so I didn't vote to change it" then that is something between yourself and God. I for one do not think that line of thought holds water. Of course Roe vs Wade will not be overturned overnight, but it will never be overturned if Catholics use your line of thinking...

      March 7, 2012 at 10:58 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.