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. High Way

    Its proof that there are people who have the Christian faith, like the Catholics, could understand the separation of power between church and state. Therefore, they could intelligently make the right choice.

    September 27, 2012 at 2:28 pm |
  2. 1amazed2u

    Romney and Ryan ........ Laurel and Hardy of the 21st century

    September 27, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
    • cyberhackster

      Like Biden is a rocket scientist -

      September 27, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
  3. Ms Mac

    By definition, catholic means: 1. all-inclusive: including or concerned with all people; 2. useful to all: useful or interesting to a wide range of people; 3. all-embracing: interested in or sympathetic to a wide range of things

    Regardless of the biased, antiquated edicts from the Vatican, I think that TRUE Catholics are perveyors of the meaning above. And because they do care for the those in need, they embrace the poor, the maligned, and those persecuted. As a life-long Catholic, it is this belief in the respect for life, but also my respect the for the choices and difference of others, that has me supporting Obama. You don't have to agree with everything he has done or stands for, but you can certainly realize that he is the candidate for all, not just the "top 1%".

    September 27, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
  4. 1amazed2u

    Romneyhood ......... Give to the Rich take from the poor

    September 27, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
    • dunracin

      You are an uninformed IDIOT! Tha's why Romney gavey all of his rather substantial inheritance to charity! Worked at Bain for $1.00/year and recued the Olympics and was paid $1.00! Stupid left wing lieing rhetoric that is no where near reality! Go ahead and promote the socialist/communist agenda and go complain to someone else when all of your freedoms are gone. Romney gave over $4 million to charity last year alone! More than Obama and Biden have contributed in their entire adult life. You are just angry because Romney works harder than you, has done more than you and has more money than you! Plain and simple FACT!

      September 28, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
  5. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    Let's just say God has endorsed President Obama! That's why Independents and Republicans are starting to abandon the empty-chair party. Game over!

    Obama/Biden 2012!!!

    September 27, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
  6. sally

    OK, now that Rummy pirate is safely out of the way, we need to also start efforts to get rid of some of these old greedy Repubtards in congress, and start paving the way for HILLARY: 2016 and 2020!!! Yahoooo!!!!!

    September 27, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
  7. 1amazed2u

    Romney .......... No honesty no integrity

    September 27, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
    • dunracin

      Here you babblieng moron, watch this and tell me Obama's not a habitual liar! You don't have a clue!


      September 28, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
    • dunracin

      Here Mr. Wizzard, try and educate yourself about what "fundamentally change America" meant. Hope you can comprehend some of it.....




      September 28, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
  8. Steve

    Catholics cannot accept a Mormon president. They have a hard time accepting even protestant churches.

    September 27, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
    • cnnmembuh

      Are you even Catholic, or do you merely presume to speak for all Catholics?

      September 27, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
    • dunracin

      But they CAN accept a MUSLIM who sympatizes with his brethern that are waging a war against us???? That's brilliant!

      September 28, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
  9. Chuck

    stop already with this crap

    September 27, 2012 at 2:25 pm |
    • mike w

      Go to lunch, Chuckles.

      September 27, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
  10. MetheBLKman

    GREAT news again...........it appears the only negative remarks are coming from the DO-THING-repuks who really look like total FOOLS for not doing anything during these trying times but complain and cry like babies without a diaper change for months.

    September 27, 2012 at 2:25 pm |
  11. billmeno

    This coming from from CNN, who constantly bashes Catholics, now finding a way to use them to try to support the fringe .....I call BS

    September 27, 2012 at 2:24 pm |
    • James PDX

      Yes, I'm sure that CNN has just publically forged the results of the PEW poll.

      September 27, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
  12. Bob


    September 27, 2012 at 2:23 pm |
    • truth be trolled

      I think I smell a disgruntled ex Evangelical Fortune Cookie Co. "writer".

      September 27, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
    • James PDX

      You need to be an I D I O T to think that your vote in the presidential election even counts.

      September 27, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
    • Toothless

      Only six year olds who pick thier nose,
      use words like Obozo.

      You think of that all by your widdle self ?

      September 27, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
    • notraitors

      Yeah, toothless, just like all the 5-year-olds who wet their pants saying Bush was a "war criminal"

      September 28, 2012 at 2:00 pm |
  13. cnnmembuh

    Romney alienating Catholics? This is more absurdity which illustrates how twisted and backward the thought process of many Americans has become. Obama has stuck his finger in the eye of the Church repeatedly. His policies are anathema (with the exception of "social justice") to the precepts of the Catholic Church.

    September 27, 2012 at 2:23 pm |
    • James PDX

      Catholics do not equal the Catholic church. Most Catholics think that the majority of church doctrine is silly and pointless and follow very little of it. This is an example of common sense trying to usurp the absurdity of religion.

      September 27, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
    • Toothless

      Obama has stuck his finger in the eye of the Church repeatedly

      The church keeps sticking its nose in politics.
      fair is fair.

      September 27, 2012 at 3:43 pm |
    • Angela Birch

      Actually Obama has not stuck his finger in the eye of the church.. The church is not the Bishops who are fretting the possibility of someone somewhere using birth control. The church is made up of those who belong to and attend the church and they do not have the Bishops hysteria over birth control. They are actually interested in things like feeding the poor, caring for the ill, and all the things Jesus actually mentioned, not in worrying about something Jesus never mentioned ( and yes there was birth control in Biblical days). Catholics in America also spend less time worrying about what the bishops say about family plannins and more worrying about social justics and loving their neighbor. 98% of Catholics state that they have or are using birth control. That boat has sailed no matter how much the Bishops ( supposedly celibite men) spend their time worrying about it. The bishops would do better cleaning up their own act and quit supporting criminals in their ranks.

      September 27, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
  14. CCD

    The fact is that most people who consider themselves Catholics do not go to Mass or follow the teachings of the Church. This is no surprise

    September 27, 2012 at 2:22 pm |
  15. Gerber

    The catholics are for obama because he is for late term abortion and gay marriage. Romney is against them.

    September 27, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
    • cnnmembuh

      You left out forcing insurance companies (i.e., those paying the premiums) to provide free birth control and abortifacients.

      September 27, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
    • James PDX

      Something those insurance companies are all for because it's much more cost effective than paying for babies.

      September 27, 2012 at 2:28 pm |
  16. Reality

    As an agnostic catholic (is there such a thing?), I will not be voting for the sheep herder Obama. I just have one question. Who are the liberals going to blame after 4 more years of this empty suit? As my accountant told me last week, liberalism=unequivocal proof of the dumbing down of America.

    September 27, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
    • James PDX

      Your accountant is an idiot. Without liberalism, we'd all still be living in caves.

      September 27, 2012 at 2:23 pm |
    • Four More Years:-)

      You must be a Republican..........Is your poor "Accountant" losing money? I guess you are not one of the 47% that Romney care nothing about? I make over a six figures a years and my retirement accounts are doing just fine now. Much better than when GWB was in office. Go Catholics!!!

      September 27, 2012 at 2:35 pm |
    • Toothless

      and i know some gay people, and some black people, and..........


      September 27, 2012 at 3:46 pm |
    • Chelle

      Without liberalism there would be no USA

      September 27, 2012 at 3:48 pm |
    • Reality

      Not from the original Reality.

      September 28, 2012 at 12:33 am |
  17. Lola

    Well, there you have it folks. The polls have declared Obama the winner. Call off the election.

    September 27, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
  18. VAVoter

    Our President is NOT gaining Catholic, CNN is doing it's best to stump for its candidate and it makes me SICK. I wish they had REAL reporters instead of lackeys for the Dems!

    September 27, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
    • James PDX

      So you're saying that CNN is lying about the results of independent polls?

      September 27, 2012 at 2:24 pm |
    • FLIndpendent

      Funny how you diehard Catholics will believe in things you can't feel or see, but never believe in cold hard facts! Get over yourselves, most Americans realize all the good that Obama has done and that he is for people, not corporations & the 1%

      September 27, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
    • Fearless Freep

      Ignorance is not bliss....
      Its stupidity.

      September 27, 2012 at 3:47 pm |
    • Angela Birch

      Sorry, but polling by an independent polling company ( You know professionals in their field) indicates that catholic prefer Obama to Romney. Maybe it is the constant lying that the Romney Ryan team is indulging in. Evidently Catholics take seriously the commandement "Thou shall not bear false witness).

      September 27, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
  19. Grampa

    As if Romney needed another nail in his coffin.

    September 27, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
  20. Steve S

    Romney has done a great job of alienating.....Women, Latinos, Blacks, Jews....and now Catholics.
    Now for the GOOD news....Mitt has the ignorant white Redneck vote in his pocket.

    September 27, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
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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.