Saturday, October 16, 2004

A conservative look at the Catholic vote

The candidacy of the first Catholic major party presidential candidate in 44 years has made Marlin, author of The American Catholic Voter: 200 Years of Political Impact (St. Augustine's Press, 2004), a hot property.

Talk radio can't get enough of him and Fox News' Neil Cavuto relies on Marlin to dissect the Catholic vote. On Oct. 12 he sparred with Jesuit Fr. Leo O'Donovan, former president of Georgetown University, on CNBC's Capital Report.

Marlin's thesis: This presidential election may well be won or lost in the key rust belt swing state precincts of Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania where "practicing Catholics" are disproportionately represented. And culture -- for which voters' views of abortion and gay marriage are leading indicators -- could very well end up being the decisive issue.

"In a close election," Marlin told NCR, "votes along the margins matter." For example, he continued, if a relatively small number of voters ("one or two or three percent") in Wisconsin get energized by George W. Bush's Catholic-friendly rhetoric and policies, it could put the Badger State in the president's column. Bush lost Wisconsin to Al Gore by a quarter of one percent in 2000.

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