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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. KENNY

    its so funny when people who are deeply religious don't understand that others who say they are xyz... don't really mean it... for instance santorum is a far right version of Ned flanders, whereas the average american is lazier and dumber than homer simpson and feel pretty much the same way about people LIKE Ned flanders... whereas obama relates most closely to Duffman.... cause MR. burns.. .aka mitt money... might take the nom but has no chance.... so tell me who's getting re-elected?!!? hehe....

    March 7, 2012 at 10:54 am |
    • Credenza

      You're probably right. But that only proves that Santorum is right too. That the majority of Americans are stupid and are quite happy to sink to third world status under another 4 years of the "Appeasing-Fixer-in-Chief"

      March 7, 2012 at 11:03 am |
    • Yo!

      "That the majority of Americans are stupid and are quite happy to sink to third world status under another 4 years of the "Appeasing-Fixer-in-Chief""

      No, that was Bush's doing Obama is just trying to pickup the pieces of the disaster Bush created for our country.

      March 7, 2012 at 11:06 am |
    • Credenza

      YO! – More than DOUBLING the national deficit in 1 year [It took Bush 8 !!!] Spending from day 1 in office when the world was already in a recession !!!!!
      Byt hey – you're a terminally brainless Dem............blame....... spend.....snivel.....blame......spend.......Yaaaawwwn!

      March 7, 2012 at 11:18 am |
    • Authority Zero

      I disagree Bush was a lot more like Duffman than Obama.
      Obama is more like Principle Skinner.

      March 7, 2012 at 11:19 am |
  2. Nookster

    Most catholics view evangelicals and mormons as religous extremist. Catholics aren't so gullible, especially U.S. catholics. They don't believe everything the pope and priest say. Most were just born into the faith and may only take their children to church to affirm their belief in God and provide a moral foundation. They aren't bible thumpers. Santorum is simply viewed as a whack job and has nothing in common with most catholics whom are moderate.

    March 7, 2012 at 10:53 am |
    • Credenza

      Ill-informed statement ,or what!!!!!!!

      I am a Catholic but I would vote for Romney simply because he has more economic ability than Santorum! Both men are decent family men with moral values.

      It has NOTHING to do with being "braiwashed" and EVERYTHING to do with getting America out of the clutches of an abortionist president who is wrecking the economy.

      The Catholic vote is based on Trust – not bigotry such as yours!

      March 7, 2012 at 11:00 am |
  3. UNITED WE FALL DIVIDED WE STAND

    In other news, CNNMoney reported that 216,000 jobs were added in February! Obama/Biden by a landslide in 2012!

    March 7, 2012 at 10:52 am |
  4. CarrotCakeMan

    Catholics even now still have relatively large, close-knit families. Every Catholic family has at least one LGBT member, and NO family member is going to vote to HURT their LGBT family member, no matter how many times the GOP bishops force-feed them anti-gay lies from the pulpits. We also know nearly ALL Catholics use birth control. The only thing the GOP bishops accomplish by pushing GOP propaganda is to remind lay Catholics to vote against the GOP bishops.

    March 7, 2012 at 10:52 am |
    • sarah

      The Church does teach that gays are to be welcomed and loved in the church, but they aren't allowed to marry. But the Church went that far because of pressure from the congregation. They also disagreed strongly with the Pope's ruling on BC. Every Bishop knows where he stands with his own congregation on the subject. There is a power struggle going within the Church. Nearly every Catholic believes that the Church will change it's stance on a lot of topics.

      March 7, 2012 at 11:01 am |
    • SPA Knight

      Sarah, the Catholic church cannot change it's teachings on matters of morality. They cannot contracdict anything Jesus taught and they won't. If they do, they will cease to be Catholic.

      March 7, 2012 at 11:48 am |
  5. Tera Davis

    Unfortunately, most mainstream Catholics are Catholic in name only. A true Catholic does not live for this world, but the next, and therefore would be more concerned about social issues than economics. Those who call themselves "Catholic" today are really Modernists. Sen. Santorum has been betrayed by his own people. If citizens don't vote for a candidate who shares the same moral values as our founding fathers, then they should not be surprised to find themselves under a new kind of government. We get what we vote for. As for me, I like America, and I believe Sen. Santorum would work to defend her.

    March 7, 2012 at 10:52 am |
    • CarrotCakeMan

      There is NOTHING "moral" about trying to hurt your own family members who are LGBT just because the bishops think attacking your own family members will increase their power in the GOP. Shame on you for attacking ALL lay Catholics!

      March 7, 2012 at 10:54 am |
    • Doug

      Tera, this world is the only thing we are guaranteed. Why would you limit your desires, wants, and aspirations in this world for something that is just a hypothesis?

      March 7, 2012 at 10:54 am |
    • Aezel

      Yeah don't forget your tinfoil hat and meds today.

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

      Thomas Jefferson was a deist, not a Christian (see the Jefferson Bible where he personally removed all of the supernatural aspects of the bible). So we should follow Thomas Jefferson? He thought slavery was OK too. Our founding fathers weren't as great as you think they were...

      March 7, 2012 at 10:56 am |
    • NM

      @Tera Davis-Please speak for yourself. I'm a cradle Catholic, and I don't agree with your comment. I am a Catholic and not in name only. I am a practicing, devout Catholic, so please don't stereotype!

      March 7, 2012 at 11:01 am |
    • sarah

      I do not believe Santorum has actual Catholic values. You are right. Rewarded in heaven and not on Earth, so what is he doing calling on the US to ignore the poor, push out the immigrants and wage war overseas?

      March 7, 2012 at 11:03 am |
    • Authority Zero

      @NM
      Stereotypes are generalizations. Exceptions like yourself doesn’t change the general majority. Assuming of course you really are as devout as you think you are.

      No offense.

      March 7, 2012 at 11:15 am |
    • jp

      @tera Not to mention that our founding fathers believed that women, which i assume you are, didn't have a right to vote. I would also like to know why women still can't be priests?
      Is it because when men made catholicism they saw it as a way to suppress women?

      March 7, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
  6. MJSouth

    There is NO "Catholic" vote!!

    March 7, 2012 at 10:51 am |
  7. Reality

    Only for the newbies:

    Catholics, not only in Ohio, are starting to see the light of history and rational thinking.

    To wit:

    (Based on the studies of NT historians and theologians of the past 200 years)

    Jesus was summarily crucified for being a temple rabble-rouser by
    the Roman troops serving under Pontius Pilate.

    He was buried in an unmarked grave and still lies
    a-mouldering in the ground somewhere outside of
    Jerusalem.

    Said Jesus' story was embellished and "mythicized" by
    many semi-fiction writers. A bodily resurrection and
    ascension stories were promulgated to compete with the
    Caesar myths. Said stories were so popular that they
    grew into a religion known today as Catholicism/Christianity
    and featuring dark-age, daily wine to blood and bread to body rituals
    called the eucharistic sacrifice of the non-atoning Jesus.

    (References used are available upon request)

    March 7, 2012 at 10:51 am |
  8. Lemark

    Ric Santorum needs to read up on Vatican 2.
    Dignitatis Humanae – Look it up. The Catholic Church officially supports separation of church and state.

    March 7, 2012 at 10:50 am |
  9. Michael

    As a Catholic I do not support Rick because his views go against some of the Bible's teachings. Besides, Dwight Eisenhower, a republican, advocated the necessity for the seperation of church and state. If he tried to advocate the Catholic teachings, which do not believe in divorce, where will that leave the protestants who believe in it? there are several differences between the Christian faiths that will only become a problem when he treis to force Catholics beliefs on all Christian faiths. Rick is trying to ObamaCare his faith on everyone. Keep faith a choice, not a mandate.

    March 7, 2012 at 10:50 am |
  10. Robert

    CNN continues to avoid asking the tough questions: A) If Romney is so bad, then WHY is he winning a majority of votes in most states? B) Why is Rick Santorum FAILING to catch up with Romney? He makes SOME progress, but not ENOUGH.

    March 7, 2012 at 10:49 am |
    • sarah

      I think asking why Romney is getting votes is a good question. I think its because he's the least offensive.

      March 7, 2012 at 10:50 am |
    • mike b

      He's not winning a "majority," he's winning a plurality. He outspent Santorum 4 to 1 in Ohio and won by a slight margin.

      March 7, 2012 at 10:57 am |
    • SPA Knight

      At this rate, Romney is barely getting the votes required to energize the party around him as a candidate because he does not appeal to conservatives which makes up a significant portion of the party. If you are a moderate/liberal, what is the difference between Oboma and Romney really? Santorum and Paul are grabbing the conservatives and liberatarians in the party but they are the ones that want a candidate that is in contrast to the current direction.

      March 7, 2012 at 10:58 am |
    • Mike

      Romney has been running for the better part of 6 years. He was a factor in the 2008 race. He has a well-established organization that is very well funded. He's outspent others by factors of 5 to 10 in various states. Santorium didn't even get on the ballot in Virgina (neither did Gingrich – who lives there!) and didn't field a full slate of delegates in Ohio. SuperPAC money has allowed Santorium, Gingrich, and Paul to stay in the race long past the point where trailing candidates ran out of money in the past.

      March 7, 2012 at 11:05 am |
  11. Freespirit

    Santorum's comment about Kennedy (first and only Catholic president) did not do him any good. What a ridiculous statement he made about throwing up – and to criticize Kennedy? Who does he think he is?

    March 7, 2012 at 10:48 am |
    • Authority Zero

      God’s gift obviously.

      March 7, 2012 at 10:58 am |
    • SPA Knight

      Why is Kennedy a sacred cow? He was a Catholic but his lifestyle certainly was not reflective of his faith.

      March 7, 2012 at 11:01 am |
    • Freespirit

      Spa Knight – you are right about his lifestyle, notwithstanding, he was a great president during his short tenure. How he dealt with the Cuban Missile Crisis and is reason enough to consider him great, in my opinion.

      March 7, 2012 at 11:09 am |
  12. Sashatree

    The fact that the majority of Catholics didn't support Santorum doesn't surprise me in the least bit. Why? Because the VAST majority of Catholics USE BIRTH CONTROL despite the outdated/unrealistic positions coming from the Vatican. Santorum has consistently shown himself as a man who wants to drag us back to biblical times.......he's completely delusional and his faith has NO PLACE in politics!! He's unbalanced and delusional. I'm thankful he doesn't stand a chance of getting the nomination, although he would have been the easiest of the two for Obama to beat in November. Either way, Obama has already won re-election. There hasn't been a SINGLE POLL that shows Santorum or Romney beating him.

    March 7, 2012 at 10:48 am |
    • Paul

      While there certainly is no requirement for Catholics to support Santorum because of his faith the real reason so many "Catholics" support Romeny, Obama and/or others like them is that the vast majority of people who call themselves Catholic do not know, understand or care to learn about the teachings of the church and are in fact not in communion with the church because of their personal beliefs which put them in direct conflict. Most of them are people like the previous poster WD who THINK they know what it means to be Catholic and what the church's teaching are but do little more than parrot the ramblings of the Marxist wolves who've infiltrated it and purposely mislead people for their own evil ends.

      Unfortunately these people have gotten a foothold in the church in no small part because church leadership has been lax or simply afraid of losing their tax exempt status in not standing up to those who publicly call themselves Catholic while openly defying them on core moral teachings and purposely distort church teaching to others.

      The percentage of people who call themselves Catholic and actually are Catholic by the church's own definition is shockingly small.

      March 7, 2012 at 11:02 am |
    • sarah

      If every Catholic could only be considered Catholic if they followed doctrine to the last rule, there would be NO Catholics. lol. No Catholic is perfect, that is what you're taught when you are Catholic. You wouldn't be considered Catholic Paul, because you lack the humility required.

      March 7, 2012 at 11:14 am |
    • Paul

      There is no such requirement Sarah when it comes to correcting purposely misrepresented aspects of Church teachings.

      You are simply lying.

      March 7, 2012 at 11:23 am |
  13. sarah

    Maybe its because Catholics get told every Sunday and Holy day how sinful they are. They don't want to hear it from their president.

    March 7, 2012 at 10:46 am |
    • LDRP

      Oh, I really like that!

      March 7, 2012 at 11:01 am |
  14. Kathleen

    There is no oint inme posting my thoughts – they are always rejected.

    March 7, 2012 at 10:45 am |
    • William Demuth

      This one wasn't.

      Perhaps bad grammar gets you in?

      March 7, 2012 at 10:46 am |
    • Aezel

      It sounds to me like your thoughts are based on nothing other than nonsense the. Try posting some intelligent thoughts that are based in reality and maybe people will take you seriously. If you just spew inane propaganda or beliefs based on nothing other than fantasy, yeah, people will shred you for it.

      March 7, 2012 at 10:46 am |
  15. Margo

    I am a 66 year old woman raised a Catholic, taught by nuns, got fed up with the hypocrisy of the church and left in my mid 20s. Want to know why Catholics aren't voting for Santorum in droves? Because he is too weirdly to the right for an average Catholic to support. He's more like a Pentecostal, which Catholics find weird too. Catholics aren't into that "born again" mentality.

    March 7, 2012 at 10:42 am |
    • maggie

      You raise a good point. Much has been made about what the red hats propose in the way of Catholic teachings and religious freedom; most Catholics don't bother with those teachings. They eat meat on Fridays if they want to, certainly plan their families (we chose not to have one) and have no qualms about the modern reality of living with someone before they marry. So what's left? The collection plate?

      March 7, 2012 at 10:44 am |
    • William Demuth

      Cool. So far you're well qualified, but are you single?

      March 7, 2012 at 10:45 am |
    • Freespirit

      Very good point!

      March 7, 2012 at 10:50 am |
    • NM

      @Margo-You're 66 and left the church in your 20's, so you haven't practiced your faith for over 44 years, so you don't know anything about what your faith was to begin with, or you would have never left. I am a Catholic and VERY proud of it. I don't know what hypocricy you speak of, because there is none.

      March 7, 2012 at 11:04 am |
    • SPA Knight

      All Catholics are "born again" but don't recognize it in those terms. We can learn lots from our evangelical brethren but it should not be at the expense of our beliefs and teachings!

      March 7, 2012 at 11:06 am |
    • Paul

      Margo you are utterly incorrect on virtually every point you tried to make. Anyone who finds Santorum to "weirdly right" to vote for simply doe not understand what the Catholic church teaches and what the requirements are to be a sincere member of that private religious organization and honestly call themselves a Catholic.

      People may be free to call themselves whatever they want but calling ones self Catholic doesn't make it so.

      March 7, 2012 at 11:06 am |
    • sarah

      Paul, you have a lot to learn about being Catholic. Start with the "Prodigal Son". God doesn't kick people out of his Church simply because they lost their way.

      March 7, 2012 at 11:24 am |
    • SPA Knight

      Sarah, we all loose our way but we must change course and return to the Father or we may never find our way back home. The prodigal son came back but was humble and asked to be forgiven after he realized he had sinned against his earthly father as well as God. God loves us unconditionally but we must respond to his love or we may find that the door has closed and the lights are turned off upon our return.

      March 7, 2012 at 11:53 am |
  16. rATL

    I don't want Obama to win in November but if my choice is between Obama and Santorum, Obama will win hands down. Santorum is a religious whack job and will never have a chance with any moderate.

    March 7, 2012 at 10:40 am |
    • Patrick

      We didn't want him in PA, we don't want him as President. He has no chance of winning the nomination.

      March 7, 2012 at 10:45 am |
  17. duckforcover

    Santorum is learning about the seperation of church and state.

    March 7, 2012 at 10:40 am |
    • maggie

      Unfortunately for Santorum supporters, he is just more emboldened now. He hasn't learned anything. Which is why he is going nowhere with the exception of hard core evangelicals.

      March 7, 2012 at 10:42 am |
  18. WD

    Santorum is not a Catholic in the true sense of what it means to be Catholic. No one should be called Catholic who supports the death penalty, is pro-war, pro-torture, advocates the killing of foreign scientists, fails to support the weakest segments of our population including the poor and the uninsured. Santorum is a pandering, self-righteous blow-hard and is a Catholic in name only.

    March 7, 2012 at 10:36 am |
    • William Demuth

      Sheesh.

      Just go ahead and take ALL the fun out of idol worship.

      What a drag! Christians without bigotry and warfare? That like chubby chicks without carbs.

      Quite likely to get cranky

      March 7, 2012 at 10:43 am |
    • Paul

      Sorry but the kook left has been trying to redefine what Catholic teaching is since the 60's and people like you have simply fallen for a load of hoey. Contrary to the phoneys hiding in the church there is no teaching against the death penalty and the official teaching contained in the catechism clearly affirms the states' right to use the death penalty, there is no teaching against war and the same book demands deference to the state leaders about issues of war and rejects the intentionally distorted teachings of social justice, such as liberation theology, that permit government force and coercion to achieve desirable social ends that are supposed to be carried out by individuals of their own free will.

      It is you and people like you who purposely misrepresent the teachings of the Catholic Church who are not Catholics in any sense of the word.

      March 7, 2012 at 10:51 am |
    • BobZemko

      So, basically, what you're saying is that anyone with a will and mind of their own cannot be a Catholic.

      March 7, 2012 at 10:59 am |
    • Bill

      Today, in fact, as a consequence of the possibilities which the state has for effectively preventing crime, by rendering one who has committed an offense incapable of doing harm – without definitely taking away from him the possibility of redeeming himself – the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity "are very rare, if not practically nonexistent."

      CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH
      SECOND EDITION
      PART THREE

      March 7, 2012 at 10:59 am |
    • Authority Zero

      @ WD
      What a person’s religious affiliation is their decision not others. Why do religious people use the “not a real (fill in blank) when someone of their faith disagrees with them?

      @ Paul
      Whos to say you are not misrepresenting Catholic teachings? Everyone thinks their interpretations are the correct ones.

      March 7, 2012 at 11:06 am |
    • WD

      @Paul Really? So you're telling me that the Pope, the vicar of Christ on Earth, could stand before you and basically say "with regard to torture, the death penalty, and pre-emptive war – blessings my child. Go with God." Mmmm hmmm.

      March 7, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
  19. Wizard of Oz

    As a catholic I believe Obama has to be defeated, Romney has the best chance to do that.

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

      Why do you believe this?

      March 7, 2012 at 10:33 am |
    • William Demuth

      Doug

      He believes it because an imaginary Palestinian Super Hero told him to.

      It's also why he thinks he is Napoleon!

      March 7, 2012 at 10:36 am |
    • Doug

      William I understand. People always write 'this needs to happen," but don't explain why.

      March 7, 2012 at 10:39 am |
    • Lewis Keseberg

      As a Catholic, you also enjoy Jesus-meat, so yeah, on that basis alone I can't give your argument (if you had one) a whole lotta wight

      March 7, 2012 at 10:40 am |
    • Sashatree

      @Wizard - Yes, I'd also like to know why you feel that President Obama "has to be defeated." What exactly is it that makes you feel this way? Thank you for your reply.

      March 7, 2012 at 10:42 am |
    • CarrotCakeMan

      "Wizzrd" isn't a Catholic, he didn't even capitalize it. He's a GOP apologist.

      March 7, 2012 at 10:49 am |
    • Patrick

      As an atheist, I believe Santorum is the closest thing to the Anti-Christ. Romney, Joseph Smith, and the Boy Scouts will join forces to defeat him.

      March 7, 2012 at 10:49 am |
    • NM

      @Lewis-As a Catholic, you also enjoy Jesus-meat, so yeah, on that basis alone I can't give your argument (if you had one) a whole lotta wight

      What do you mean by Jesus-meat?

      March 7, 2012 at 11:05 am |
    • Authority Zero

      @ NM
      Communion

      March 7, 2012 at 11:10 am |
  20. ren1a

    I believe people realize that a vote for Santorum would be an invitation to a third party candidate..No moderate Republican nor Independent would vote for Santorum..Chances are best with Romney better with Gingrich non-existence with Paul...

    March 7, 2012 at 10:30 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.