Wednesday, December 01, 2004

The 'Catholic Vote' is NOT a Myth

So writes Ramesh Ponnuru on National Review Online.

Note that nobody suggests that the evangelical vote is a myth. People may think that its influence has been exaggerated or that it is less monolithic than sometimes portrayed. But that it is a distinctive feature of the political landscape is not doubted. And a demographic group does not have to vote as lopsidedly as active evangelicals do to count as a real voting bloc. Its importance as a swing constituency may be higher precisely because it does not vote lopsidedly. That active Catholics are less Republican than evangelicals and more Republican than mainline Protestants is a notable and interesting fact. It is a piece of information that could be useful to political strategists, and to political journalists. Even if the differences among these groups are small, it may be useful to think about those differences. Three points in the popular vote is a pretty big deal these days. It may especially useful to think in terms of "the Catholic vote" since battleground states tend to have a higher-than-average proportion of Catholics (which may, indeed, be part of the reason that they are battleground states.)

The importance of the Catholic vote is not nullified by the fact that Catholics have generally voted for the popular-vote winner. Most demographic groups do not routinely vote for the winner. Blacks don't. Evangelicals don't. Union members don't. The fact that Catholics do vote for the winner suggests that, more than most groups, they determine who the winner is.

Kate O'Beirne, in a post-election article on the Catholic vote for National Review, wrote that Bush's share of the Catholic vote increased the most where bishops were outspoken about voters' moral obligation to protect unborn human beings. This vote could continue to swing away from the Democrats. I suspect that Democratic strategists are painfully aware that this vote is no myth.

Insightful piece. Read the whole thing. I would agree that Catholic support of Republican candidates will continue as long as the Republican Party continues to stress the need to protect the unborn as well as traditional marriage. As Archbishop Chaput put it in his interview with the New York Times, "We are not with the Republican Party. They are with us." If Republican politicians ever decide to leave, we will most surely not be supporting them at the polls.


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