Pew poll: Obama opens up lead over Romney among Catholics
Obama has substantially widened his lead among Catholic voters since June, the Pew poll found.
September 27th, 2012
11:24 AM ET

Pew poll: Obama opens up lead over Romney among Catholics

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

Washington (CNN) - President Barack Obama has opened up a significant lead among Catholic voters, a crucial swing voting bloc, according to a recent Pew poll.

Obama leads opponent Mitt Romney among Catholic voters by 54% to 39%, according to the survey, conducted from September 12 to 16 by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press.

Obama’s lead in the Pew survey comes despite outspoken recent criticism of the Obama administration from America’s Catholic bishops and despite Mitt Romney’s selection of a Catholic running mate, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan.

The survey was released last week, but the findings on Catholic voters were highlighted this week by the Religion News Service, which notes that Obama held a much tighter 49-47% lead over Romney among Catholics in a June Pew poll.

John Green, a religion and politics expert at the University of Akron, said Obama’s gains among Catholic came from growing support among Hispanic and black Catholic voters, but also from white Catholics, among whom Obama is now tied with Romney.

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“That’s the part of the poll that I think is kind of surprising,” Green said, noting that Obama lost white Catholics in 2008, even as he won the overall Catholic vote.

Green said that it is white Catholics who were most likely to be receptive to the bishops’ recent attacks against the Obama administration over what the church says is the White House’s curtailment of religious freedom.

In its recent “Fortnight for Freedom,” campaign, the church urged American priests to denounce the administration’s requirement that health insurance companies provide free contraception coverage to employees, even if those employees work for Catholic organizations that oppose contraception.

“The bishops were hoping those efforts would bring more moderate and liberal Catholics, not necessarily for Romney but against the administration’s position,” Green said.

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John Allen, CNN’s chief Vatican analyst, noted that at least one other recent national poll gave Romney a slight lead among Catholics, and that Romney leads among Catholics who attend Mass each week.

“That either shows that the more practicing you are, the more pro-Romney (or anti-Obama) you are,” Allen said in an e-mail message, “or it says something about the political message Catholics are getting in their parishes these days.”

Catholic voters, who accounted for more than a quarter of the electorate in the 2008 election, have voted with the winning presidential candidate in every election going back to the early 1990s.

In 2008, Obama beat John McCain among Catholics by 54% to 45%. In 2004, John Kerry - the first Catholic nominee for president since John F. Kennedy - lost the Catholic vote to George W. Bush, provoking Democrats to take Catholic outreach more seriously.

Both major parties had America’s highest-profile Catholic cleric, New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan, give the closing prayer at their recent political conventions.

The Democratic Convention also featured a Catholic nun who led a “nuns on the bus" tour attacking the federal budget that Ryan designed in his role as chairman of the House Budget Committee.

The Obama and Romney campaigns have both rolled out Catholic outreach efforts in recent days, and the Romney camp has highlighted Ryan’s Catholicism.

“A faithful Catholic, Paul believes in the worth and dignity of every human life,” Romney said when he introduced Ryan as his running mate last month.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: 2012 Election • Barack Obama • Bishops • Catholic Church • Mitt Romney • Politics

soundoff (1,503 Responses)
  1. Veteran from New York City

    @A Young Catholic

    Mr. or Mrs. Young Catholic, I don't believe your statement is right. Just because you don't like President Obama, that do not translate that Catholics don't like Obama. Speak for yourself. I'd like to remind you and your fellow racists that: President Obama is not the Pope of the United States, He is the President of the United States of America, that means. Being the President, he is the President of the Catholics, Protestants, Muslims, Jewish, Buddhists, Atheists etc. He supports every faith even when one is totally disagreed with him. So Mr. Catholic, don't vote for President Obama's re-election, just vote for Mr. Romney, it appears that Mitt Romney represents you much more better than President Obama.

    September 27, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
    • Scott

      When all else fails, play the ol' worn out race card. Disgusting that a fellow veteran would stoop that low.


      September 27, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
    • Joey Ratzinger certainly isn't the pope of the United States

      September 27, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
  2. ladyfon

    Read the numbers they polled 8% more likely voters that are dem/ or lean dem than those that are republican or lean republican. And Obama only wins by that same 8%.

    September 27, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
  3. Aden

    Joey Ratzinger won't last too much longer. The Church will most likely swing back toward a more humane view of women in a year or two.

    September 27, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
  4. dominick

    I'm not voting for either one. A country's justice is based upon its laws, not whether or not it is a popular candidate that wins top seat. There is no just candidate. And neither is there the choice between the lesser of two evils this time around.

    September 27, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
    • Saffrondawg

      Sit this one out if you want. However, do not delude yourself into thinking that it makes no difference who wins. You can be absolutely certain that, if Romney wins, any appointments Romney makes to the Supreme Court will be conservatives who will be willing to overturn Roe v. Wade, and any appointments Obama makes if he wins will be pro-choice. Take it to the bank. The conservatives only need one more vote to reach their 5 vote majority, and Roberts will probably join for the same reason he joined the liberals on Obamacare – to protect the image of the court as somewhat non-partisan – so it will likely be 6-3 if Romney can replace one of the liberals. If I had no other reason for voting, that would be enough reason for me, depending on my views on that issue. But it's OK – let other people make that decision for you. This is a free country and you are fee to be inert.

      September 27, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
  5. Milton K. Wiah

    Could anyone remember this oldpa(white) who told Mitt he is the only one who will not vote for a Mormor.
    He even refused to shake Mitt hand in that day.

    September 27, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
  6. Bob

    The Catholic Church is currently divided among liberal "progressives" who want Church teachings to change and modernize and traditionalists, who think the Church should stay true to it's roots. The former are more likely to support Obama and the latter Romney. I'm of the latter Catholic persuasion, feeling that the Church should not bend to the whims of the world.

    But personally, I couldn't pick between those 2 candidates because they both support what I believe are violations with regard to preservation of life (ie Democrats are pro abortion and Republicans are pro death penalty). Seems to me that Ron Paul was the only candidate who was against both death penalty and abortion.

    September 27, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
    • Wrenn_NYC

      The church has always bent to the whims of the world. Though that is not the words I'd use.

      Rather, the church has changed, usually following how society has changed. Witness we don't think that all non catholics are heretics and cultists anymore. (not since Vatican II) We don't consider women belonging to their husbands like posessions. (though, we did 150-200 years ago). We don't think that slavery is part of the natural order... "in keeping with both natural and divine laws" as Pope Pius IX said... in 1866.

      Study church history.

      September 27, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
  7. annm

    This is ridiculous Even in New York, catholics will not vote for this man. He has ruined our economy, has weakened our military, is not engaged in running this country or even trying to work with the republicans as he told them during his first two years. CNN is Obama's water carrier. so sad

    September 27, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
    • voting for first time

      sorry, annm, but everything you said is so wrong. where do you live – like inside a tree??

      September 27, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
  8. Chat Pata

    Latino Catholics voted Obama because they believe Christianity is what Jesus said i.e. heaven has no place for the 1% super rich that Romney represents. I think white Catholics are voting Obama because they are afraid a Mormon would be worse than an Anglican because after all an Anglican is a Christian.

    September 27, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
  9. Truth


    September 27, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
    • voting for first time

      yeah – i've seen this before. it's sad there isn't a better candidate on the other side. it's like going to a football game where everyone is hurt on one side.

      September 27, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
    • tom


      September 27, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
  10. 2nd Order Effect

    What this article really underscores is that Obama is beating Romney among educated Americans. This is regardless of race, creed, color or religion. The higher your level of education, the less likely you are to support the GOP of Karl Rove's design.

    September 27, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
    • rose

      W R O N G again!!!!! I am educated and have a Bacherlor's degree and I will be voting for Romney!!!!

      September 27, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
    • therealpeace2all


      There are always some counter-examples... and ... those that didn't really learn from their college experience.


      September 27, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
  11. rep

    At this rate Romney's only remaining demographics are going to be millionaires, Mormons, and older, white men.
    I suppose that seems fitting....

    September 27, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
    • rose


      September 27, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
    • mb2010a

      Yes and so do over half of the voters apparently...because it's true.

      September 27, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
  12. RudyG

    The effort by the media to try to convince Romney supporters that all is lost is mind-boggling! Ain't gonna work. Too many people out of work. Too many lies by Obama. Too many mistakes. And, too much time waltzing around campaigning for a full 4 years while the country went to hell! I'm Catholic, and I know a LOT of Catholics. I can't think of ONE who will vote for this man. That's MY poll!! And, we are all voting in November!

    September 27, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      Yes and your little group of religious people is completely indicative of the rest of those religious people. Get over yourself, and realize that people tend to think for themselves.

      September 27, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
    • rose

      Two Catholics here and I AM VOTING FOR ROMNEY TOO. The media is desperate trying to fool people.

      September 27, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
    • rose

      Two Catholics here and I AM VOTING FOR ROMNEY TOO. The media is desperate trying to fool people

      September 27, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
    • Did you double check your numbers?

      So Pew has finally been bought. That's a shame.

      September 27, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
    • lloyd roberts

      Too many people out of work, too many lies, too many mistakes. You talking about W. Bush or Obama?

      September 27, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
    • mb2010a

      Oddly enough, all the Catholics I know, and that also is quite a few, have said they will not vote for Romney because he is Mormon. They also don't like Ryan, who they think won't be able to keep his religion out of his politics. So I guess my Catholics trump your Catholics...

      September 27, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
    • RudyG

      Lloyd Roberts
      I'm talking about Obama, who is every bit as inept as Bush. I'm an independent, and I choose not to continue the tradition. I have doubts about Romney; but I have NONE about Obama – he's incompetent. Reagan AND Clinton each created over 12 million jobs. Obama's record speaks for itself.

      September 27, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
    • Boytjie

      Who knew Fox would be part of the media cabal that are trying to fool Americans with polls showing Obama ahead of Romney!

      September 27, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
    • Boytjie

      Carter administration: 10.3 million
      Reagan administration (both terms): 16.1 million
      Bush 41 administration: 2.6 million
      Clinton administration (both terms): 22.7 million
      Bush 43 administration: 1.95 million

      Read more: http://wiki.answers.com/Q/Which_president_of_the_us_created_the_most_jobs#ixzz27hke6OWM

      September 27, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
  13. Wade

    So does this means Catholics are now ready to accept abortion as a means of viable birth control?

    September 27, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
    • hawaiiguest


      Nice single issue sound bite. What's next, Obama is a muslim? Wasn't born in my state? Liberals are all atheists? Come on, only a single retarded sound bite is boring.

      September 27, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
    • Lani

      I can see you have a lot to learn about birth control options.

      September 27, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
    • sbite

      so Wade – how many abortions do you think were performed while Bush was in office? hint – it's more than several millions

      September 27, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
    • mb2010a

      Let's hope so...

      September 27, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
    • P. Travis

      No, it just means that given the totality of issues, and recognizing that the eight years given to a VERY anti-life president,
      Catholics will continue to fight to end abortion but welcome attention on other life issue as also important. Vote for the person
      who will solve the problem via another road.....abortions were fewer during Clinton's terms and went up during the Bush years.

      September 27, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
  14. Joseph (a lover of Jesus)

    Most atheists don't believe because they can't handle the discipline.

    September 27, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
    • Colin

      Actually Joseph, you’ll find that most (ex-Catholic) atheists don’t believe for one or more of the following reasons:

      The concept of an immortal being makes no sense to us.

      The concept of an all-powerful being makes no sense to us.

      The concept of an all-knowing being makes no sense to us.

      Throwing the three together into one being cubes its implausibility.

      We tend to have a good working knowledge of the age, size and history of the Universe. The idea that a being would create the entire thing – with 400,000,000,000 galaxies, EACH with 100, 000,000,000 starts and even more planets, then sit back and wait 13,720,000,000 years for human beings to evolve on one planet so he could “love them” and send his son to Earth to talk to a nomadic group of Jews about sheep and goats in Iron Age Palestine (while ignoring the rest of the 200 million people then alive) makes no sense to us. We can’t help but ask ourselves, “did God make the Jews or did the Jews make God?”

      The answers usually proffered for what we see as basic logical flaws in Catholicism – “you have been blinded by your lack of faith” “God moves in mysterious ways” “God is outside the Universe” or “our minds are too small to understand the greatness of God” are never satisfying to us. We see a retreat to mysticism as the first refuge of the cornered fool.

      The common argument, “well, what caused the Big Bang?” with the implication that, because we have only theories and no iron clad explanation for the Big Bang yet, the Judeo-Christian god must have caused it – does not make sense to us. “I don’t know” does not equal “god” to us, much less the Judeo-Christian god. We feel the answers to such a question are much more likely to be found in Einstein’s equations, quantum physics, large particle accelerators and radio telescopes than in Genesis Chapters 1 through 20. We’re crazy aren’t we?

      We do not see miracles in things like tornadoes missing a certain trailer in a trailer park, cancer going into remission or Tim Tebow winning a football game.

      We understand that Catholicism is one of many, many religions in the World, and we don’t think that we were lucky enough to have been born in the one part of the World that “got it right”. Likewise, we know how all faiths evolve, morph and change over time and do not think we were lucky enough to have been born in the one generation that “got it right.”

      We tend to have a basic knowledge of history and know that there is nothing magical or special about the supposed history of the Jews, gospels, letters, apocalyptic story (Revelations) and other materials that found their way into the Bible, in that they are largely indistinguishable from the other mythology and religious writings of the pre Dark Ages Mediterranean.

      Human beings are terrified of their own deaths and we see the various religious beliefs that try to “wish it away,” such as reincarnation, living happily ever after in Heaven with Jesus, having your own Mormon planet etc. as nothing more than childish stories for the more näive, timid minds among us.

      We do not see morality as predicated upon a belief in the supernatural. We accept that one can be moral without believing in the supernatural and that doing so is no guaranty that one will conform to the norms of society that people call “morality”.

      “You can’t prove God doesn’t exist” is not a convincing argument to us, or even a relevant point, as in inability to disprove something is a far cry from it being true. We cannot prove that the Hindu gods Shiva or Vishnu do not exist either, nor Santa Claus for that matter, but that is hardly a reason to believe in them, or even evidence for their existence. It is impossible to prove a negative in this context.

      When one looks at the various Christian beliefs that were once firmly believed – Adam and Eve, Noah’s flood, people living to be 700 or 900 years old, the Red Sea splitting, water turning into wine, a talking snake, a man living in a whale’s belly, people rising from the dead, Jesus driving demons out of people and into pigs – but which are now acknowledged by most thinking people to be mere mythology, it is pretty hard to give a lot of credibility to what’s left.

      It is hard not to consider Catholicism as based on circular reasoning. Most Catholics believe in God because the Bible says so, then turn around and say they believe the Bible because it is the word of God. To draw an analogy, “I believe Mao Zedong was a great man because The Little Red Book says so, and the reason I believe The Little Red Book is that it was written by Mao Zedong, who was a great man.” Do you even have the slightest idea of how your Bible was compiled over the centuries or who decided what to include and what to exclude and on what grounds? Can you even name one of hundred plus authors who contributed to it? One of the many people who decided what got in and what didn’t?

      To be bluntly honest, the more one comes to understand mother nature, the less reason there is to believe in a god and the more one understands human nature, the more one sees why so many of us still do.

      So, before you next proudly proclaim that you know the secrets to life, death, the origins of life on Earth and the origins of the Universe, simply because your parents or priest taught you some comforting stories from late Bronze and Iron Age Palestine as a child, you might like to reflect upon the overwhelming enormity of the claims you are about to make and the complete paucity of evidence that underwrites those claims.

      Or, put another way, stop cuddling your Bible and wallowing in your ignorance and face the uncertainty of life and the certainty of death with a bit of emotional and intellectual courage. If you want to spend your entire life groveling before and appeasing something, at least make it something that exists. You insipid little coward.

      September 27, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
    • Boisepoet

      Colin – Excellent response.

      September 27, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
    • SAM246

      Hey Colon,
      yea, you can't make sense out of anything because you are a loner, loser and wanabe!!!

      I'm sure you've had a beautiful life!!! Under a Rock!!!

      September 27, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
    • mb2010a

      Colin – 1
      Joseph -0

      Yea, Colin...

      September 27, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
    • Saffrondawg

      Many Christians believe because they can not accept that life ends at death. But believing it doesn't doesn't make it so.

      September 27, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
  15. Alex

    Typical to see the Republicans trying to "shoot the messenger" – when it comes to bad news for Romney. How many ways can we slice this....your man is going to lose. CNN is just the messenger. Time to get your head out of the sand.

    September 27, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
  16. DustyOnes

    Interesting......it is an easy 90-10 split for Romney in my Parish.

    September 27, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
    • Sean

      The Holy Trinity just isn't important to you, then?

      September 27, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
    • WV Gleeman

      The thing is Dusty, you only think that is the case. Just like you only think that 90% of the people in your parish don't use birth control.

      September 27, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
    • rose

      Catholics and Protestants I know are voting for Romney. People who voted for Obama are voting for Romney.

      September 27, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
  17. Voxhumana

    Everyone knows that the rank and file Catholic lay person follows the tenets they choose. Most Catholic families use birth control, and not the abstinence kind. Catholics have a strong belief in serving the poor, and that could work against Romney, who sees the poor as "THEM."

    September 27, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
  18. loone22gurl@gmail.com

    I am a once proud and dutiful Catholic, but now I have taken a "vacation" away from the religion I was raised in and loved so much. I taught CCD and worked in church office. When the pedophile scandal first began, I would not believe it...but now have found out two priests that I worked with have been found guilty. I could not stand any more of their excuses and the Vatican's non-answer to defrocking these priests and bishops immediately and turn over files to police. Now I see a church that plays a two-note symphony...against abortion and gay marriage. That is all I hear. My god, when do they stand up for anything else? I am ashamed of the Catholic Church and would never vote Republican, although I was one, for a short time. Give me the Nuns on the Bus, who care about all of humanity, regardless of their lifestyle, which I always believed that Jesus taught! Catholics for Obama..a compassionate and good man!!

    September 27, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Allow me to invite you back to the mass

      September 27, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
    • SAM246

      Hey Loonybird,
      Romney has done more for people with his kind deads and business expertise than Obama could ever think of doing. If you really listen to Obama, it's all about him. What can he say now to win votes?? What lies can he state that makes himself look good??
      He's the mirror man. He loves the stage and wants to be a star!!

      September 27, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
    • Larry in Houston

      Thank You loone22gurl !! I am with you all the way !! I agree ! That's IS a double standard !!Obama isn't perfect, and he made some mistakes too, but he's a LOT better than the "other guy" LOL Can u imagine romney getting elected ? He will set this country back 35 + yrs. on the womens issues, either that, or just put them on the back burner.
      Vote Democrat – 2012

      September 27, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
  19. Andrea

    Another CNN attempt to sway the masses to vote for Obama. This has got to be the craziest story yet next thing you know CNN will post that those that love Israel will back Obama. Most Catholics will never vote for abortion.

    September 27, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      You're not being asked to vote for abortion. Actually, it would probably be best if you didn't vote at all handicapped as you are by moral myopia.

      September 27, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
    • mb2010a

      Most Catholics won't vote for a Mormon, either...

      September 27, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
  20. Karrie123

    When it was said that 98% of women use birth control, including Catholics, if the Republicans had a brain in their heads, they should have dropped the issue. Instead they started talking mandatory ultrasounds and throwing rocks at Sandra Fluke. If you talk like women are second class citizens, more then half the voting population, then don't complain when the push back comes.

    September 27, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
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