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. larry d

    It appears that most you believe and hear only what you want. Obama is a admited sociolost conneted with Chicago political machine.He is disonest lies owes thugs big time.His ability to manage.is deployable.He could not manage a lemon aid stand.Foreign policy is a shambles our money is devalued because he lets the Fed keep printing paper.He and his staff have put us and our children trillions in debt with little or no resalt.I could go on and on.One last thing;abortion is taking a life.The Catholic Church excommnicates for that.no just because were baptised Catholic does not keep you a Catholic no matter.what.

    September 27, 2012 at 5:57 pm |
  2. xfiler93

    Catholics voting for a pro death, murdering baby party. Just as well. Jews vote DEM all the time. Insane.

    September 27, 2012 at 5:54 pm |
  3. tffl

    It really seems it is about time for the Catholic church (and all other religious organizations that explicitly get involved in partisan political actions) to lose their tax exemptions.

    September 27, 2012 at 5:52 pm |
  4. SensibleJoe

    “A faithful Catholic, Paul believes in the worth and dignity of every human life" — except for the 47% of Americans Romney disdains, those bombed or tortured by American forces in the "war on terror," those put to death via capital punishment, those deprived of health care or welfare assistance in times of ill health or joblessness - all in tune with GOP orthodoxy. Not very "pro-life" at all...

    September 27, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
  5. scb

    The only Catholic thing about the Romney-Ryan ticket is their alleged pro-life credentials which apply only to the fetal voting block. Living people are treated with respect only if they're not part of the 47%. Remember, the Bishops condemned Ryan's budget before they went to war over health insurance. Many Catholics care about social justice more than the Bishops' hissy fit over a small portion of a bill intended to provide health care to those most in need. (I'm a white practicing Catholic who will vote Obama this fall, just as I did four years ago.)

    September 27, 2012 at 5:45 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Then you are a moron

      September 27, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
  6. toadie

    I don't even have to read a thing what bennet has to say. I just know President Obama is the right man for the job. Bennet in the past had sounded like hate in what he said- there is nothing more to read about him and hear what he has to say.

    September 27, 2012 at 5:43 pm |
  7. Rosales

    I'm an Hispanic Catholic and there is NO WAY I will be voting for that guy, and our "hierarchy" doesn't tell us how to vote like some people are talking about.
    5 Catholic reasons, abortion, gay marriage, cloning, and stem cell. Enough said.

    September 27, 2012 at 5:37 pm |
    • Bill Deacon


      September 27, 2012 at 5:38 pm |
    • Huebert


      I understand arguments against abortion, I don't agree but I understand. But what is your problem with the other three?

      September 27, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
    • Timmy


      September 27, 2012 at 5:42 pm |
    • lroy

      Amiga! Me three.

      September 27, 2012 at 5:43 pm |
    • lroy

      Hue-It is what the Church calls the five non-negotiables. The policies are against Catholic teaching-always was, always will be. There are many reasons why they are not negotiable.

      September 27, 2012 at 5:45 pm |
    • Obams is the best

      Are you all retarded and form Midwest?

      September 27, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
    • Heavenonearth

      My whole family is a catholic and we are voting for the President, Obama. Two of us are a nun and a priest.

      September 27, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
    • D-Nice

      Shouldn't you be self-deporting. Willard asked nicely.

      September 27, 2012 at 5:54 pm |
    • Travis

      Well said Rosales. How anyone calling themselves Catholic could vote Obama is beyond me. If you don't wish to follow the Catholic Catechism (abortion is sin). Then join a new church. Why lie to yourselves any longer about what you truly are.

      September 27, 2012 at 5:55 pm |
    • Huebert

      Nice non-answer there Iroy. I'm asking WHY are these problems for Catholics.

      September 27, 2012 at 5:58 pm |
    • old ben

      Well that explains everything – another religious nutcase who wants to hold back the development of the rest of mankind on the basis of folklore and superst!tion.

      September 27, 2012 at 6:05 pm |
    • tffl

      Yes, your "hierarchy" doesn't tell you how to vote – they just tell you what to believe on lots of issues and tell you that you can't vote for people that disagree with what they say...

      September 27, 2012 at 6:09 pm |
  8. rob

    Most Catholics aren't bigoted and cruel like the Catholic leadership and the Republicans. No true Catholic would vote Republican.

    September 27, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
    • tripletmom

      Let me guess; you are a Kennedy?

      September 27, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
    • Mark

      If you support the democrats you can call yourself many things, but a Roman catholic isn't one of them.

      September 27, 2012 at 5:54 pm |
  9. Huebert

    In honor of all of the "NO CATHOLIC WOULD EVER VOTE FOR OBAMA, WE'RE ALL PRO-LIFE, ANYONE WHO IS NOT PRO-LIFE IS NOT CATHOLIC" post. I propose we rename the no true Scotsman fallacy the no true Catholic fallacy.

    September 27, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
    • old ben

      I'll second.

      September 27, 2012 at 5:36 pm |
  10. Reality

    Why the Christian Right and "Catholics" no longer matter in presidential elections:

    Once again, all the conservative votes in the country "ain't" going to help a "pro-life" presidential candidate, i.e Mitt Romney, in 2012 as the "Immoral Majority" rules the country and will be doing so for awhile. The "Immoral Majority" you ask?

    The fastest growing USA voting bloc: In 2008, the 70+ million "Roe vs. Wade mothers and fathers" of aborted womb-babies" whose ranks grow by two million per year i.e. 78+ million "IM" voters in 2012.

    2008 Presidential popular vote results:

    69,456,897 for pro-abortion/choice BO, 59,934,814 for "pro-life" JM.

    And the irony:

    And all because many women fail to take the Pill once a day or men fail to use a condom even though in most cases these men have them in their pockets. (maybe they should be called the "Stupid Majority"?)

    The failures of the widely used birth "control" methods i.e. the Pill and male condom have led to the large rate of abortions ( one million/yr) and S-TDs (19 million/yr) in the USA. Men and women must either recognize their responsibilities by using the Pill or condoms properly and/or use other safer birth control methods in order to reduce the epidemics of abortion and S-TDs.


    September 27, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
  11. guido

    Just like we all know, Catholics don't listen to the Bishops except for that 45 minutes once a week. Then they walk out the door and do as they wish.

    September 27, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      You must know something no one else does because bishops do not usually celebrate mass, priests do.

      September 27, 2012 at 5:39 pm |
    • Obams is the best

      Catholics are forces of evil. Track records: African Slave trade, Prosecution of Galileo, Complete blunder of south american culture and heritage, none the less second class treatment of women. and now: anti-gay, anti-free will, anti- development, anti – poor, anti – common man, and pro – Romney.

      September 27, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
  12. Jim

    Catholics who support Republicans often do so because of their Pro Life credentials. Despite the fact Mitt asserts that he is Pro Life, I think many people are skeptical. In addition to the blatant and convenient change of direction since his time as Massachusetts governor, his wife is clearly very Pro Choice but is being gagged by the campaign.

    September 27, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
    • tripletmom

      We have a Marxist bully as a President and you are wallowing in the social issue of abortion. Just forget about abortion and focus on saving our country from ruin by the radical Left.

      September 27, 2012 at 5:52 pm |
  13. bugmetoo

    I own (and built) my own business, I am catholic, AND NO WAY VOTING FOR OBAMA!

    September 27, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
    • guido

      Did God help you? Because YOU know that the government didn't, right.

      September 27, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
  14. ojohnson

    I'd like to know why Catholic priests are talking politics during church services? Church services are meant to teach the word of God, not to tell people how to vote. This goes for all religions, not just Catholocism. If you want to get involved in politics then do it outside of church! The Catholic Bishops should be reprimanded for telling their parish priests to discuss political topics.

    September 27, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Where have you heard a priest talk politics? Or are you making it up? The "Formation of Conscience for Catholic Citizens" is a bulletin published by the USCCB which outlines every Catholics civic responsibility to engage the political process but is non partisan and focuses on issues relevant to the faith.

      September 27, 2012 at 5:42 pm |
    • ojohnson

      Bill, did you not read the article?

      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.

      Where else would the priests denounce this to their congregation, other than during services?

      September 27, 2012 at 5:52 pm |
  15. Mark

    If its a religious comparison you're looking for check out:


    September 27, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
    • bugmetoo

      Don't be swayed by these democRATic, propaganda webpages.

      September 27, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
  16. glenn friedman

    Thank you Nuns on the Bus for confronting the lack of compassion shown by the Romney and Ryan Budgets..'as you do for the least of these...'

    September 27, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
    • tripletmom

      Aren't you late for your local Communist club meeting?

      September 27, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
    • Mark

      Who do you plan to support when the US defaults and goes belly up? No wait, we can just print more money so the minimum wage is $5000 an hour, that worked well in post-WWI Germany.

      September 27, 2012 at 5:56 pm |
  17. Khaleeshi

    Good for you – that's the way it should be.

    September 27, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
  18. Truth


    Bye Bye Mit Rommel!

    September 27, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
  19. Truth


    September 27, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
    • mortalc01l

      Great videos and absolute proof that Romney is a human flip-flop... He was for it, but now he's against it, because he HAS to be to appease the Tea-nuts and frothing religious loons.

      September 27, 2012 at 5:39 pm |
    • tripletmom

      You can't stand the truth that about 70 milion Americans are paying for everything in this country. Instead of trying to get more people to be contributing citizens and develop pride in their accomplishments, you seem to want more people dependent on welfare. You and your liberal cohorts are ruining this country. Take care of yourself and your family before you ruin the American dream for the rest of us.

      September 27, 2012 at 5:56 pm |
  20. Derrick, Atlanta


    September 27, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
    • We KNOW Who Will Help Us

      Yes! I'm glad someone finally remembered we Latinos! Thank you, Derrick! We are the 99% who are voting for President OBAMA! Most of us are Middle Class, Elderly, Women, and Poor and would never even consider Romney to take away what we have worked so hard for all of our life! He simply doesn't get it except about the rich! So, Romney? Not On Your Life! OBAMA/BIDEN 2012!

      September 27, 2012 at 6:29 pm |
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