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. Jonathan Gramling

    Catholics, especially as it concerns birth control, do not always follow lockstep with the Catholic heirarchy. I don't think the majority of Catholics want to have their access to contraceptives limited in their health care plans.

    September 27, 2012 at 10:37 pm |
    • therealpeace2all

      @Jonathan Gramling

      Right... that one has always perplexed me about the Catholics. What is it... 98-99% have used/are using birth control ? That's not any different than the rest of the population.

      No contraception... what an absolutely insane concept that the RCC believes in... IMHO.


      September 27, 2012 at 10:47 pm |
  2. deadwrestler

    Economic Patriotism, new Obama catch phrase, but as most of us know it,
    It is called Tax increases. Get ready for this phrase, this goes along
    with that old favorite, investing in America, translation spending increases.

    September 27, 2012 at 10:21 pm |
    • Howard

      The American people are being mislead with the unreliable poll results.
      Check out: http://www.unskewedpolls.com/

      September 27, 2012 at 10:26 pm |
    • Jaime, FL

      Education and not fear mongering will save you.

      September 27, 2012 at 10:34 pm |
    • sally

      Keep dreaming, Howard. The end is near – Rummy pirate is history.

      September 27, 2012 at 10:40 pm |
  3. paul613

    Most Catholics I've met care deeply about acting charitably toward their fellow man...even toward those who are not "their own kind." I'm Jewish, and among the Christians I've known, Catholics and liberal Southern Baptists come closest to embracing one of the guiding precepts of my faith, "Repair the world through justice." More power to them.

    September 27, 2012 at 10:16 pm |
  4. Jaime, FL

    It's laughable to read that Ryan is a Catholic and how Mitt is chasing the Catholic vote. Some news for Mitt and Ryan, the Catholic Church believes in evolution, something that Ryan doesn't believe in. If his kids went to Catholic Schools, evolution would be part of the curriculum. The Catholic Church believes in helping illegal immigrants since the Bible preaches to help those less fortunate. The Catholic Church believes in helping the elderly, not taking away their health care. That's just a few to mention, so if Romney and Ryan believe that they will have the Catholic vote, I'd say good luck to them. I hope they won't be surprised when they lose big.

    September 27, 2012 at 10:15 pm |
  5. Support From Head of Government

    There certainly IS a person at the very head of the government hierarchy who is most capable of taking in and supporting ALL of the babies that parents don't want instead of having them abort. He controls billions upon billions of dollars and even more. He is the Pope at the Vatican!

    September 27, 2012 at 9:47 pm |
  6. norvy

    Dang. The more he appears on t.v. and talks, the worse it gets for him.

    September 27, 2012 at 9:38 pm |
  7. CACkle

    Romney is seeing this election slip away. All the fat cats will start to move their money to Obama.

    Bye-Bye Mittens. We're not sorry to see you go!

    September 27, 2012 at 9:32 pm |
  8. CGAW

    White Catholics that attend mass are going to vote Romney becasue they tend to be more conservative and whole heartedly believe the demlibs will make laws against religion. I think we're screwed regardless of who you vote for.

    September 27, 2012 at 9:12 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Except that white, non-Hispanic, Catholic, likely voters prefer Obama to Romney 49% to 46%. It will be margin enough on November 6.

      September 27, 2012 at 9:47 pm |
  9. Freedom

    Awesome! Honesty works.

    September 27, 2012 at 9:09 pm |
  10. Bob, NY

    I thought I was wrong ONCE...but I was mistaken. If the world were left to the cultists, we would still be tossing perfectly good virgins into a volcano and burning witches after Sunday school. Perhaps, just maybe, we have a brain for a reason...oh yeah...the free will thang.

    September 27, 2012 at 9:01 pm |
    • truth be told

      You can reach the keyboard but seem to be lost on the reply function.

      September 27, 2012 at 9:06 pm |
    • Delly

      You can cherry pick in all situations. The church has also given us family life, healthcare, schools, hospitals.
      No organization is perfect. The police justice department, government, and yes even our beloved scientists. Greed/excess pride is in the fabric of human nature. Its hypocritical for you to pick the sides you dont like of the church and condemn it. We owe your very law and birth of this great nation to religion.

      September 27, 2012 at 9:17 pm |
  11. The Real Differences


    September 27, 2012 at 8:49 pm |
  12. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    September 27, 2012 at 8:48 pm |
    • hal 9001

      I'm sorry, "Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things", but your assertions regarding atheism and prayer are unfounded. The degree to which your assertions may represent correct statements is 0.0. To help you understand the degree to which your assertions may represent correct statements, I will access my Idiomatic Expression Equivalency module (IEE). Using my IEE module, the expression that best matches the degree to which your assertions may represent correct statements is: "TOTAL FAIL".

      I see that you repeat these unfounded statements with high frequency. Perhaps the following book might help you overcome this problem:

      I'm Told I Have Dementia: What You Can Do... Who You Can Turn to...
      by the Alzheimer's Disease Society

      September 27, 2012 at 9:34 pm |
  13. judy

    catholics are pretty smart and by now have heard enough from mormon mittens and his deas for 47% of Americans. They now that Christ said to help the poor and the old and the homeless. Who can lose if the Nuns are with you.? Forward.

    September 27, 2012 at 8:48 pm |
    • Ronald Regonzo

      The 47 % aren't capable of operating a touch screen voting machine.The welfare, unemployed, food stamp patrons don't vote anyway. Romney / Ryan 2012

      September 27, 2012 at 8:58 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      Congratulations, you have lumped me in (someone not on welfare, food stamps, etc.) simply because I do not make enough money to pay federal taxes. You are part of the problem, and are proud of it. Your generalization is incorrect, and you have bought in to the divisive political discourse.

      September 27, 2012 at 9:00 pm |
    • Ronald Regonzo

      Another non threat heard from, all the relevance of a hanging chad. Romney / Ryan 2012

      September 27, 2012 at 9:04 pm |
    • hawaiiguest


      Congrats, you have confirmed your irrelevancy to any sort of intelligent discourse. Your only use seems to be idiotic sound bites that you either accept (which means you're a moron), or you're a complete poe (which means you're a useless troll). Have fun in your useless blathering.

      September 27, 2012 at 9:06 pm |
    • Ronald Regonzo

      And you'd vote for Obama if you could just figure out how that dang thing worked. Perhaps they accept absentee ballots in Hawaii filled out in crayon? Romney / Ryan 2012

      September 27, 2012 at 9:09 pm |
    • thecollegeadmissionsguru

      @Ronald, you sir, are nothing more than a person who spews what he hears from the mouth of the Rush Limbaughs of the world. A huge portion of the 47% are retired, or military, or unemployed by no fault of their own, or underpaid by no fault of their own. Many are educated and underemployed in a country that is supposed to be the greatest country on Earth.

      September 27, 2012 at 9:10 pm |
    • hawaiiguest


      Don't bother. Someone as useless as he is isn't worth anymore bytes of data then he already has directed at him.

      September 27, 2012 at 9:11 pm |
    • thecollegeadmissionsguru

      @Ronald, and if I had to guess, I would say you are probably living in your parent's basement, watching FOX all day, eating doritos, and wishing you had a girlfriend.

      September 27, 2012 at 9:12 pm |
    • CGAW

      a hawaiian who does not make enough to contribute to the country? I am so surprised!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      September 27, 2012 at 9:15 pm |
    • hawaiiguest


      Are you competing with Ronald for the title of "Most Useless", or are you the same person?

      September 27, 2012 at 9:18 pm |
    • CGAW

      Different person and a little sarcastic I know – I apologize but some parts of the country are severely lacking when oit comes to contributing and all the more a reason for a flat tax rate or a straight consumption tax.

      September 27, 2012 at 9:22 pm |
    • hawaiiguest


      Oh yes please take more money at the end of a tax year. Make me a homeless worker. Do you seriously hate the lower classes that much?

      September 27, 2012 at 9:25 pm |
    • CGAW

      not at all – I used to be bottom income earner at one point in my life. My point is even if your share is only $1.00, everyone is putting in based on what they earn and if you do a consumption tax, then the wealthy reallyy pay alot for their fun and toys

      September 27, 2012 at 9:31 pm |
    • hawaiiguest


      A consumption tax would hurt the lower income workers more than the rich. As far as flat tax, to break even on even basic spending from lower spending years would require a percentage that would destroy the lower income workers. This is why a progressive tax is better, and why a capital gains increase is needed, since that's where the rich make their money almost exclusively.

      September 27, 2012 at 9:51 pm |
    • truth be trolled

      The only kind of "trickle-down" that actually works:

      "Ronald Regonzo" degenerates to:
      "truth be told" degnerates to:
      "Atheism is not healthy ..." degenerates to:
      "tina" deganerates to:
      "captain america" degnerates to:
      "just sayin" degenerates to:
      "nope" degnerates to:
      "2357" degenerates to:
      "WOW" degnerates to:
      "fred" degnerates to:
      "!" degenerates to:
      "pervert alert" or "...." where he writes such lovely posts as "QUE ERS GAVE AIDS TO AMERICA"
      and many other names, but of course I prefer to refer to this ho mophobe as
      the disgruntled ex Evangelical Fortune Cookie Co. "writer".

      September 27, 2012 at 10:22 pm |
  14. kdnphx

    Instead of standing out front of Planned Parenthood, why dont all of you Obama haters go to the grocery store and buy food for needy children and take them to a shelter.....adopt a child........become a foster parent.......

    September 27, 2012 at 8:48 pm |
    • thecollegeadmissionsguru

      Because it is easier and cheaper to advocate for the unborn than to HELP the millions of children who are poor, homeless, and without medical care. Their ideology is to Make the Women have unwanted children, then let them starve because they are against social programs for the poor. Quite a Paradox indeed.

      September 27, 2012 at 9:15 pm |
    • CGAW

      So you would be an Obama lover? Like he is the savior to the country? Anyone who passionately suppports either of these put -zes is not thinking clearly.

      September 27, 2012 at 9:19 pm |
    • oneanddone

      And what positive moves are you making? Probably spending most of your time working on the obummer campaign.

      September 27, 2012 at 9:42 pm |
  15. Bob, NY

    Lyan/Robme will cut the funding for mental health too....some of these idiots will have to be stopped by lethal injection. Maybe the prisons could open an express lane?

    September 27, 2012 at 8:46 pm |
  16. Tin cup

    Just say NO to Romney

    September 27, 2012 at 8:46 pm |
    • Ronald Regonzo

      No more sin in America President Romney. Romney / Ryan 2012

      September 27, 2012 at 8:49 pm |
    • kdnphx

      NO To Robme and Lyin Ryan!

      September 27, 2012 at 8:50 pm |
    • Ronald Regonzo

      Get used to tea with that. Tea the beverage choice of Republicans living and previously living who'll be voting this November. Ryan is right for Mitt and right for America, Ryan is so far right he's right. Romney / Ryan 2012

      September 27, 2012 at 8:55 pm |
    • oneanddone

      Just say no to the greatest liar to ever occupy the WH, Oliar

      September 27, 2012 at 9:44 pm |
    • Patrick in Wisconsin

      Ronnie, why don't you turn off Rush Limbaugh and Fox News and think for yourself for once? All you're doing is repeating the same old sound bites that have absolutely no intellectual value to them. They make them so mindless people like you will keep repeating them on end with no reservation as to whether or not they might be true. To them, you're a robot. Do yourself and your country a favor and stop listening to those psychopaths.

      September 28, 2012 at 11:40 am |
  17. Birdwatcher1

    Amen to that!

    September 27, 2012 at 8:45 pm |
  18. kdnphx

    instead of insulting your fellow Catholics, go read the book of Mormon...

    September 27, 2012 at 8:45 pm |
  19. Rufus T. Firefly

    “The church’s position on abortion takes no more notice of the details of biology than it does of the reality of human suffering. It has been estimated that 50 percent of all human conceptions end in spontaneous abortion, usually without a woman even realizing that she was pregnant. In fact, 20 percent of all recognized pregnancies end in miscarriage. There is an obvious truth here that cries out for acknowledgment: if God exists, He is the most prolific abortionist of all.” (Sam Harris)

    September 27, 2012 at 8:44 pm |
    • Bob, NY

      The choices a woman makes about HER OWN body should be left to her, her doctor, her views of religion. Your God reserves the right to the judgement.

      September 27, 2012 at 8:50 pm |
    • therealpeace2all

      @Bob, NY

      Hi -Bob...

      " The choices a woman makes about HER OWN body should be left to her, her doctor, her views of religion. "

      I agree basically, but I would have put a (period) and stopped after *her*... "The choices a woman makes about HER OWN body should be left to her. "

      Well, it is left to her. It is the law.

      " Your God reserves the right to the judgement. "

      What ? Not sure I'm following you here.


      September 27, 2012 at 8:56 pm |
    • Bob, NY

      The cults are working real hard to change those laws. It is a woman's right to make those choices. She will have to live and die with her own decision. It is none of the government or church or public business. The "Your God reserves the duty of judgement" is what is taught in these churches.

      September 27, 2012 at 9:11 pm |
    • therealpeace2all

      @Bob, NY

      O.K... now I understand, we are on the same page.


      September 27, 2012 at 9:16 pm |
  20. kdnphx

    OBAMA 2012!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    September 27, 2012 at 8:44 pm |
    • Ronald Regonzo

      Obama 2012, seeks employment, will work for food. Romney / Ryan 2012

      September 27, 2012 at 9:00 pm |
    • Bob, NY

      @Regonzo Read the polls and weep...oh yeah, they're all in the tank for President Obama...(except fauxnews) Hmmm, if they're all supporting the prez...who, exactly is left to crayola in a mark for Lyan/Robme?

      September 27, 2012 at 9:26 pm |
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About this blog

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.