The strategy may be working for Bush better than it is for Kerry, with Catholics polled by Zogby International in some of those states pulling away from the general public and saying they are more likely to vote for Bush.
So why did 60 percent of a sampling of Catholics in Minnesota say they were likely to vote for Bush, compared to 44 percent of the overall state voters who said they would re-elect the president? By comparison, 51 percent of all Minnesota voters polled said they plan to vote for Kerry, while 36 percent of Catholics said they would do so.
Those results of the phone survey of 725 Minnesota voters conducted between Aug. 28 and Sept. 3, and released Sept. 7, continued a trend that has evolved over the summer among Catholics in the state. About 25 percent of Minnesota residents are Catholic.
Zogby senior political writer Fritz Wenzel told Catholic News Service that the answer may lie in the attention brought to Kerry's abortion positions this summer. In places with strong pro-life networks such as Minnesota, that may be affecting how some Catholics vote, he thinks.
"In this political atmosphere, there are two key issues for Catholics," Wenzel said. "Concern about the legitimacy of the war in Iraq is being overridden by ongoing discomfort with Kerry's stand on abortion."
Iowa, Wisconsin, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania are also Catholic-heavy battleground states where Catholic voters are polling significantly more in favor of Bush than is the general population, according to the Zogby data. Here are the Sept. 7 report's figures:
-- Iowa: Overall -- Bush voters, 47 percent; Kerry voters, 51 percent. Catholics -- Bush voters, 56 percent; Kerry voters, 43 percent. About 18 percent of Iowans are Catholic.
-- Wisconsin: Overall -- Bush voters, 48 percent; Kerry voters, 50 percent. Catholics -- Bush voters, 56 percent; Kerry voters, 42 percent. About 31 percent of Wisconsin residents are Catholic.
-- New Hampshire: Overall -- Bush voters, 45 percent; Kerry voters, 50 percent. Catholics -- Bush voters, 53 percent; Kerry voters, 36 percent. Twenty-seven percent of the state's residents are Catholic.
-- Pennsylvania: Overall -- Bush voters, 47 percent; Kerry voters, 50 percent. Catholics -- Bush voters, 54 percent; Kerry voters, 44 percent. Pennsylvania's population is about 30 percent Catholic.
In most of the other swing states where Zogby polls regularly, Catholic voters support Bush and Kerry by about the same percentages as the rest of those queried.