Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Catholic Vote Proves Vital To Bush's Victory in Swing States

Months of speculation by pundits and campaign officials on which way the Catholic vote would go ended last Tuesday with Catholics favoring President George Bush in numbers significantly higher than four years ago when Bush ran against Al Gore. The election marks the first time a Catholic presidential candidate has not won the Catholic vote and Kerry's defeat among Catholics in the swing states of Ohio and Florida were key to Bush's victory.

According to election day exit polling, Bush took 52 percent of the Catholic vote nationwide, a five point increase from the last election. Among practicing Catholics, those who attend Mass weekly, he took 56 percent. Bush increased his raw total of Catholic votes by 1.4 million compared to 2000. Kerry, a Catholic, took 47 percent of Catholics and 43 percent of practicing Catholics. A Catholic has been a major-party presidential candidate only three times in American history. In the first two instances, Al Smith won 80% of the Catholic vote in 1928 while John F. Kennedy won 78% in 1960.

The improvements made among Catholics by the GOP were so significant that one analysis, by the online magazine Beliefnet, said the Catholic vote "was just as important and in crucial states, probably more so" than the Evangelical vote. In Ohio Bush received 55 percent of the Catholic vote compared to 50 percent in 2000. That translates into 172,000 more Catholic votes in the Bush column than in 2000. Bush's margin of victory in Ohio was 136,000. Among weekly Mass-goers in Ohio Bush took 65 percent of the vote, 30 points more than Kerry.

The story was the same in Florida where Bush took 57 percent of the Catholic vote compared to 52 percent last election. That means that Bush got about 400,000 new Catholic votes this years. He won Florida by about 377,000 votes. Practicing Catholics favored Bush 66 percent to 34 percent in Florida.

Whether or not the Catholic voting trends of this year become permanent remains to be seen. George Marlin, author of "The American Catholic Voter: 200 Years of Political Impact," noted that it was working class Catholics in the Rust Belt with ethnic ties to Eastern Europe who came out for Bush even though they faced some of the toughest economic times in the last four years. Such Catholics are diminishing quickly he said.

Hispanics could prove to be the wild card in the future of the Catholic vote. Hispanics make up the fastest growing segment of the Catholic population and have traditionally been a reliable Democratic voting bloc. But this year 42 percent of Latino Catholics voted for Bush, an eleven point increase from the 2000 election. According to Marlin, this bodes well for the Republicans since Latinos "voted their cultural values."

Copyright, 2004 --- Culture of Life Foundation.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

According to the NY Times, CNN, and the rest of the "estalishment" - Evangelical Christians were the reason Bush won. But I've held to the beliefe that Evangelicals are by nature conservative and thus GOP-voters, just as Union workers vote Democratic. The real reason Bush won probably had more to do with Moderates and Catholics, who reasonated more with the Protestant Bush than the Catholic Kerry. Also, anyone notice during the third debate Kerry made a comment about be a politican "who happens to be Catholic" - well I was raised in All Boys Catholic High School to believe we are first and foremost Catholics who happen to do whatever it is that we do.

6:58 PM  

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