This November, the number of Bush Catholics is likely to increase because many Catholics are angered by the specter of one of their own, candidate Kerry. This backlash may doom Mr. Kerry's candidacy, because unlike non-practicing "cafeteria" Catholics who are congregated in the northeastern and far western states that Mr. Kerry will easily carry, practicing Catholics are a major voting bloc in the key swing states of Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio and Missouri.
According to liberal political pollster Stanley Greenberg, these practicing Catholics are "those most committed to and identified with the church and most likely to bring their Catholic identity into politics."
Right now, most pollsters agree that these states are moving in Mr. Bush's direction. Mr. Kerry's poor social-issues record has lead to Catholics in certain battleground states polling significantly more in favor of Mr. Bush than the general population.
If this polling trend continues, the real story of the 2004 campaign will be that practicing Catholics emerged to defeat a man who was baptized a Catholic, served as an altar boy and claimed he is a "believing and practicing Catholic."
UPDATE: Catholic Analysis
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