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. Tired of This

    @David, why do you believe it is the Republicans squeezing the middle class? Obama hasn't proved enough for you that it is the democrats who do that? You know take from the rich and give to the poor without any concern of those in the middle? Please let's all open our eyes to what is going on here. If Obama is so giving why did he not contribute more to charity. Or should I bring Biden into this with his 1% to charity. Let's not talk about that because it doesn't fit into the Democrats overall plan to lie to all those they pretend to help. They are like hollywood elites, do as I say not as I do. When is the last time an actor worked for free so that we can all afford to go to the movies, wait that hasnt' happened. They all make millions of dollars but tell us how we should spend our money.....Borrow from Peter to pay Paul!!!

    September 27, 2012 at 3:43 pm |
  2. Wrenn_NYC

    I don't wonder that the number who would vote for Obama is actually higher, that there will be those who won't admit to planning to vote for him.

    As others have said, the majority of catholic women in this country have used birth control at one time or another. And the thought of an anti contraception VP is something to give them pause.

    I remember 30 years ago when I was in 8th grade (catholic private school) we were still being told that Mormonism was a cult. (But Protestants weren't anymore. They hadn't been considered such since Vatican II)

    Most people really aren't one issue voters. One can hope. One can hope they'd take more time out of their day to educate themselves on individual candidate's stands and positions. And think about what that would mean for everyone.

    I can hope.

    September 27, 2012 at 3:40 pm |
    • John J

      Well said. Disappointing when people roll it up to Republican or Democrat because there is so much more to each candidate than just their political party.

      September 27, 2012 at 3:47 pm |
  3. troy

    Nothing more pitiful than seeing republicans in denial.

    Obama/Biden 2012.

    September 27, 2012 at 3:40 pm |
    • John J

      Countries at stake here not political parties, please don't revel in how fractured we are. Not helping.

      September 27, 2012 at 3:45 pm |
  4. homardy

    Does not surprise me. Catholic social teachings and modern American Conservatism are in direct opposition.

    September 27, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
  5. Nicecatch

    Sure John and Amer, keep living in denial. Its a large part of the reason your party is falling apart its denial of the fact that its become so ideological it forces its candidates to take positions which are not favored by the general electorate. I hope you keep shooting yourselves in the foot.

    September 27, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
  6. Tired of This

    I wasn't sure about how exaggerated the polls were until I read this......I guess all those out there saying that the liberal media is indicating that Obama is taking the lead is doing so to supress voters. This proves their case!

    September 27, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
    • homardy

      They are reporting the results of an outside poll. Grow up!

      September 27, 2012 at 3:39 pm |
    • Jonsie

      Exactly true. I am Catholic I don't know any Catholics voting for him. The polls are a sham and so is the media!

      September 27, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
    • Tired of This

      @hormady – another fooled liberal.

      September 27, 2012 at 3:47 pm |
  7. Dave Jaipersaud

    People are not stupid or that forgetful. It doesn’t matter if you are Catholic or any other religion. The policies that Romney is promoting and advocating only cater to the wealthiest in Society and will decimate the masses. No religion would support such policies

    It doesn’t matter how Romney and the Republican try to spin their policies, the American people know how disastrous those policies have been for this country, especially for the Middle Class and less fortunate.

    Americans are not stupid. How can anyone even thing Romney’s policies will be better for this country. Romney and the Republicans policies from 2001 to 2008 brought this great nation to its knees, their policies caused the Great Recession, their policies wiped out almost 10,000,000 jobs as a direct result of the Great Recession, their policies wiped out retirement savings for tens of millions of Americans as a direct result to the Great Recession, their policies took a $1 trillion surplus to a $13 trillion deficit, their policies resulted in the decline in the percentage of Americans that are in the middle class, their policies resulted in tens of millions of Americans without healthcare, their policies resulted in millions of Americans losing their homes, their policies will be detrimental to Latinos and all other minorities, their policies will result in another war in the Middle East, and the list goes on.

    No Americans in their right mind will believe that Romney/Ryan policies will be better for the Economy. The only way for anyone to think that is if they are suffering from total amnesia. People will remember what happened in 2007/2008 and the years leading up to the Great Recession. It was the exact same policies that Romney is advocating now that caused the Great Recession. We are not that dumb to think that these same policies that caused the Great Recession will somehow magically make the economy better.

    I guess Romney/Ryan think we are all stupid and don’t know the truth and can’t remember the dark days of the great recession of 2007 and 2008 and the years leading up to it.

    The choice is clear. Do we want to go back to the exact same policies (Romney/Ryan current policies) that brought America (this great Nation) to its knees or do we want to continue to build on the recovery.

    September 27, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
    • John J

      Nice write up and agree that the Republican party blew it when they selected Romney but please don't pretend that things are going to get better with Obama in office another 4 years.

      Let's just call him the lesser of two evils.

      Either way Americans lose.

      September 27, 2012 at 3:43 pm |
    • Chana

      So Obama is a better person especially as he's signing executive orders left and right giving him MORE control over our lives and the lives of our children and bring a Marxist/Socialist agenda into play? And if he's so great and Catholics are so keen on him does that mean that people are willing to accept his policy that religion can not be brought into the workplace, etc? I mean seriously he's basically destroying any public acknowledgement of a person's faith being acceptable unless your advocating the Muslim religion. AND he's not even trying to acknowledge the USA's long time allies but giving them a cold shoulder while embracing countries that not only harbor but encourage and advocate terrorist groups that are hell bent on destroying American's. If you think Romney's going to destroy American economics what do you think Obama's doing, helping it flourish when the US credit rating has been downgraded and is being downgraded again, when we are X amount TRILLION of dollars in deficit but he can find the money to assist Islamic countries. When instead of trying to set and example that he CARES for America he's busy swinging a 9 iron on the golf course, hob knobing with Jay Z, appearing on Radio shows "Pimp with the Limp", spending tax payers money for wifey to go on lavish vacations, NOT goodwill missions, etc. or planning this years THEMED Halloween party like last years "Alice in Wonderland" and had Johnny Depp and what's her face show up......trust me that was NOT FREE.....yea it's clear he's a MUCH MUCH better answer for us. HEY maybe he'll help me improve MY golf game, he's on the course enough I can watch him and pick up some tips.

      September 27, 2012 at 3:47 pm |
  8. Ram Riva

    Yes we are.....supporting Obama....big time

    September 27, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
    • John J

      Of course you are Ram, very insightful. Thanks for sharing, lol.

      September 27, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
  9. lefty loosy

    sounds like BS especially with his stances on abortion , gay marriage and islam

    September 27, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
    • ToldUso

      Catholics are good at denial, be it polls they don't like or pedophiles in their clergy.

      September 27, 2012 at 3:39 pm |
  10. boocat

    Nobody likes this guy......this is remarkable! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

    September 27, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
  11. Chris B.

    All the Catholics I know (and I'm one) are not voting for Comrade Obama.

    September 27, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
    • Nicecatch

      Perhaps you should get out more.

      September 27, 2012 at 3:39 pm |
    • Chris B.

      That's your opinion – and you know what's said about opinions: they're like a**holes – eveybody's got one and they all stink. Thanks for your feedback.

      September 27, 2012 at 3:43 pm |
    • Dave Jaipersaud

      Obviously you don't know a lot of Catholics.

      September 27, 2012 at 3:47 pm |
    • Chris B.

      That's right, Dave Jaipersaud. I forgot that you know me and my demographic. It must be amazing bieng omniscient.

      September 27, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
  12. John

    I know a lot of Catholics, I am Catholic and not one is voting for barack obama.

    September 27, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
  13. MrHighMighty

    Catholics won't vote for a Mormon who denies the eternal deity of Jesus Christ, and who thinks man can achieve equality with God.

    September 27, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
    • John

      where are you gettin your information from. have you ever talked to a mormon about their religion?

      September 27, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
    • Spot On

      You are Exactly Right, Mr.HighMighty! Just take a look at this for anyone who doubts what he is saying! http://www.gotquestions.org/Mormons.html

      September 27, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
  14. jason

    BS CNN! Or should I say Pravda. Keep telling lies.

    September 27, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
  15. zzvzz

    Support Islam, vote Obama! Im a gay mormon and I approve this message.

    September 27, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
  16. Junior Samples

    catholics have a lot more sense than to vote for Obama...especially after the way the first 3 years have turned out. You would have to a masochist to keep taking this crap.

    September 27, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
  17. ben

    This isn't a CNN lie, this is them reporting the results of a poll done by a completely different group. It would be like me saying all apples are neon purple, and then you saying CNN are liars for allowing me to write that apples are neon purples.

    September 27, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
    • Tom

      Most Catholics ARE masochists.

      September 27, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
  18. Truth


    See Mitt as Flipper!

    September 27, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
  19. John

    Catholics are not supporting Obama.

    September 27, 2012 at 3:32 pm |
    • Truth

      Yes because you not only know all Catholics personally, but you yourself conduct national polls. Give me a break neoclown.

      September 27, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
    • ToldUso

      This Catholic couldn't possibly vote Republican. So you stick with the bishops, I'll side with the nuns who recognize the poor and needy are humans too.

      September 27, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
  20. Amer_Man

    Another lie CNN. Believe me, we're paying attention and counting.

    September 27, 2012 at 3:31 pm |
    • Truth

      Funny these are independent polls from Pew, not CNN polls.

      This year is the year of poll denial- just the moment Obama rose in the polls all the rightie tighties began rambling about how oversampling and bias had infected the poll data- something they never claimed when Obama and Romney were about tied.

      I find the comments FOX keeps making about "undecided voters always vote for the challenger" funny too since a casual glance at past elections shows this is not the case.

      September 27, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
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