The Deacon's Bench

The Deacon's Bench


Campaign ’08: “Conservative Catholics are very much in play”

posted by deacon greg kandra

This could be troubling news for the McCain campaign, since the voters in question are a sizable — and sometimes decisive — bloc.

From the WSJ:

For the first time since the presidential election of 1988, the observant white Catholic vote might be up for grabs this November.

Conservative Catholics now appear to be more concerned about the economy and the war in Iraq, and less motivated by abortion, the issue that has long kept the voting bloc aligned with Republicans.

The shift may be bad news for Sen. John McCain, but it also poses a challenge for Sen. Barack Obama in some critical swing states where a majority of Catholic voters supported Sen. Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primaries.

Since the 1970s, the country’s roughly 64 million Catholics have generally voted in line with the nation. Still, some distinct segments of Catholics can swing an election.

Among those blocs are the 12 million or so non-Hispanic Catholics who attend weekly Mass. While less-observant Catholics have vacillated between parties and supported John Kerry in 2004, a majority of these traditional Catholics has voted Republican in every presidential election since 1992, says John Green, a senior fellow with the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. In 2004, 62% backed President Bush.

This time around, they seem less likely to back a Republican.

Tricia Louis, a 43-year-old Republican and mother of four, attends Mass every Sunday near her home in Withamsville, Ohio, about 20 minutes from Cincinnati. She twice voted for Mr. Bush because of his stand against abortion. In March, she cast her ballot for Sen. Clinton.

“I didn’t think the war would go on as long as it has,” Mrs. Louis said. “I still think abortion is murder, but I’ve known two soldiers who’ve been killed in Iraq. That’s murder, too.”

Now, she is weighing whether she would vote for Sen. Obama in November and has doubts that he can handle the war — as well as the economy. Ohio has lost more than 200,000 manufacturing jobs since 2000. Last year, 150,000 homes went into foreclosure, and now 1-in-10 residents is collecting food stamps.

A Pew poll taken in January 2007 found only 38% of traditional Catholics favored a generic Republican presidential candidate. An August 2007 poll showed them three times as concerned with the economy as social issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage.

“Conservative Catholics are very much in play,” Mr. Green says.

While Sen. Obama supports abortion rights, he has backed several bills to reduce unintended pregnancies and therefore the need for abortion. His campaign is hoping his record on other issues will carry the day. “He has spent an entire career bringing people together and putting his faith into action, and that’s a distinctly Catholic concept,” says Joshua DuBois, national director of religious affairs for the Obama campaign.

Sen. McCain is still establishing his conservative credentials among the religious right. In a speech at Wake Forest University in North Carolina this month, he assured conservatives he would appoint judges he characterized as strictly faithful to the Constitution, a signal they would be pro-life.

For now, wedge issues, like gay marriage and abortion, are taking a back seat, while issues like the war in Iraq, health care for the poor and concerns about the environment are keeping the conservative Catholic vote in play.

Even a small shift among Catholics in battleground states like Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania could swing the election.

Hit the link for more.



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Mary Martha

posted May 29, 2008 at 9:54 am


If someone is willing to vote for a manifestly pro infanticide (based on his actions in the Illinois legislature) candidate such as Obama… I think that calling them ‘Conservative Catholics’ is journalistic malpractice.There seems to be a mission to make it the received wisdom that Catholics will vote for Obama. Considering his stance on the important issue of our day (abortion) I think that Catholics will be smarter than that… no matter what the media tells them.



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artandsoul

posted May 29, 2008 at 10:51 am


Catholics, like any other American, will make their decisions within their own hearts as to how they weigh the various choices in an election.I do not think it appropriate for anyone to tell me that because I am a Catholic I must cast my American vote in a particular way because a candidate has said they are pro-life.There are many, many ways to stand for pro-life and many, many issues that go into decisions of who I support in the Presidential election.And I am very much an observant, participating Catholic. Mother of five. Active volunteer in my church. And fully aware of the Catholic teachings on abortion and other issues. I don’t think anyone – media or blogger – should leap so fast into telling me how I will vote or why.



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Brady

posted May 29, 2008 at 12:24 pm


Cindy you can’t honestly believe as a Catholic that any of the other issues in this country are as important as abortion. You say there are many ways to stand for pro-life, maybe thats true, but being an anti-abortionist is a pre-req to all of them. With 50 million murders of innocent children on the conscience of our nation, no Catholic who is really Catholic can vote for a pro-choice candidate, and still pretend they are in good-standing with the Church and thus God.Holy Innocents, pray for usSacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us.



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Patm

posted May 29, 2008 at 1:16 pm


Voting for Obama because of his “social justice” policies makes no sense when – in terms of security – he’s a disaster area.Actually, while the abortion issue is very important, in terms of GOVERANCE, what trumps it is NATIONAL SECURITY.If the nation is not secure, then all of our concerns about any other issue – including abortion – are trumped. If the nation is not secure you can be looking at cities being attacked by dirty bombs, subways being poisoned, etc. Lots of innocent life lost there, too.Fortunately, the best candidate for national security is also pro-life. So, really…there should be no need for a lot of hand-wringing, here.



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Buzz

posted May 29, 2008 at 2:55 pm


I am appalled Tricia Louis cannot distinguish death in combat and abortion



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Joe

posted May 29, 2008 at 3:01 pm


Obama is unproven but considering that the current administration has done nothing but decrease our International securty I can’t see supporting 4 more years of that.More importantly as a Pro-Life supporter I want to decrease the number of abortions. I believe actions speak louder than words.There was a rant the other day by Novak about Kathleen Sebelius. What he left out was the fact that abortions have gone down since she has been in office. I’m sure the Arch Bishop wasn’t aware of this either when he barred her from Holy Communion.Abortions took their steepest nose dive in the 90s under a pro-choice President while they have pretty much stayed the same and increased for some groups since our current Pro-Life administration took over.Frankly lives are more important than lip service. Research clearly shows that most women choose abortions due to fiscal reasons and the CDC date backs this up. Thus the best way, odd as it is, to decrease the true number of aboritons in the nation right now is to vote for a Pro-Choice canidate this year.Since the majory of Americans still support a womans right to choose we must do whatever we can do decrease the numbers until we can education enough individuals for a culture change. That is the only way we are ever going to get RvW overturned… when most people want it.People listen a lot better who aren’t sicks, have a good job, a full stomach and hope that their kids will do better than themselves.Joe



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Klaire

posted May 29, 2008 at 3:17 pm


Cindy, God Bless you on your motherhood of five! That said Cindy, in the kindest way I can write this, I think you “make the case” of “Consevative Catholics” who don’t seem to really understand the Church’s teachings on INTRINSIC EVIL vs “acceptable killings for just causes, such as just wars and in rare occassions, the death penalty. Let’s all agree to disagree that at this time, it’s too early to know if Iraq was a “just” war or not. Only time will tell, not the difficult & emotionally heart wrenching impact of lost soilders, who, if we knew all the related facts, may well indeed have not only died for their country but for a worthwhile cause. Remember the Copperheads hated Lincoln at the time for similar reasons.Bishop Sheen always taught that war is a result of sin (as does the church). If we really wanted to “stop the war”, wouldn’t it make sense to “stop the biggest sins, the intrinsic evils of abortion, ESC, and other related “life issues?”Furthermore, if one doesn’t value life in the womb, you can take it to the bank that they are a phony in every other social issue, from war to feeding the poor. That’s why M. Theresa often said that “the fruit of abortion will be nuclear war.” Obama supports infanticide. Anyone who thinks this man should be “at the button”, IMO, and in accordance with the teachings of the CC, needs a reality check of a “well formed conscience.”John McCain isn’t there on ESC research, but he has STAUNCHLY never waivered on the right to life in the womb. And just as an FYI, McCain has an adopted daughter from one of Mother Theresa’s orphanges, but like his sons who serve in Iraq, he never talks about it for political gain.In fairness Cindy if I had a son who might be a part of a war I couldn’t come to grips with, indeed it would be hard. That’s why the church keeps the “rule book” around, so in those times when our emotions overplay God’s will, we have a safety net to remind us that “we don’t think like God”, consequently, in faithful obedience, we look to the “rule book” for guidence.



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Patm

posted May 29, 2008 at 3:34 pm


President Bush has made us “less” secure internationally? In the 1990’s Al Qaeda made hits on American interests every 18 months or so. Since 9/11? Internationally, we’ve seen the governments that disliked America voted out and now Canada, the UK, France, Germany and Italy are all government in sync with our policies.There is more to the news than just headlines.



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Mark

posted May 29, 2008 at 3:48 pm


considering that the current administration has done nothing but decrease our International securty (sic)What evidence do you have that backs this up? Or are these just BHO talking points?see http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives2/2008/05/020600.phpAnd I’m sure none of Kansas’ decline in abortion (in line with the national decline) could be attributed to the fact that the state’s most prominent abortion clinic was under investigation last year, and nearly half of all abortions performed in the state are on non-Kansans.Abortions … have pretty much stayed the same and increased for some groups since our current Pro-Life administration took over.While “stagnating” they number of abortions dropped from 1.31 million in 2000 to 1.21 in 2005see http://www.guttmacher.org/media/presskits/2005/06/28/abortionoverview.html



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Scott

posted May 29, 2008 at 4:16 pm


How much of a disconnect is there between what politicians say to get elected and what they actually believe? Mitt Romney is an example. Guiliani, another. Even McCain said in 1994 that he was against overturning Roe.



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Katie & Alen

posted May 29, 2008 at 4:48 pm


I lost my dad to war 17 years ago. I lost my uncle to war 19 years ago. I lost my Archbishop to terrorism last year. As far as I’m concerned pro-life and anti-same sex marriage are the only concerns when voting.Sacred Heart of Jesus Have mercy on us



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Michael

posted May 30, 2008 at 12:23 am


no Catholic who is really Catholic can vote for a pro-choice candidate, and still pretend they are in good-standing with the Church and thus God.You’re wrong. Full stop.



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Mhari Dubh

posted May 30, 2008 at 1:15 am


I’m apologizing in advance for rambling, Deacon. I really enjoy your blog. No one has been able to answer this question for me:What exactly has the current administration (and others) done to combat abortion?They talk a great game but seem to get into office and that’s it. I struggle greatly with being pro-life (both anti-abortion and anti-death penalty) and pro-social justice. And please don’t bother to preach at me…I’ve heard it, I know the positions, I know the “right Catholic actions”– but I can’t seem to wrap my mind around the “Republican” mindset with the exception of the pro-life position.I feel that there needs to be a revolution in sex education where religious people aren’t afraid of talking about actually teaching our kids why they shouldn’t have sex instead of not talking about sex at all and hoping for the best. I teach at a conservative Catholic school/parish and am seriously worried about some of our kids ending up pregnant because they don’t understand the biology let alone the religious/moral reasons to abstain. I’m sorry, I’m rambling but I go around and around in my head and can’t seem to land anywhere.I’m very interested in what Democrats for Life have to say ( http://www.democratsforlife.org/) .



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Deacon Greg Kandra

posted May 30, 2008 at 8:26 am


Mhari:The answer, in two words: not much. We have had a pro-life president and pro-life congress for years, and precious little has changed. There’s a compelling argument on the situation made at this link.Blessings,Dcn. G.



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steve p

posted May 30, 2008 at 11:32 am


As far as statistical data go, I am never quite sure what to make of drops in abortions or teen pregnancies. The most likely reason to me seems to be more use of contraceptives. We don’t have very encouraging statistics on decreased sexual activity for unmarried people (teens or adults), and the culture continues to bombard people young and old with an incredible emphasis on sex.I’m becoming convinced that our vote is one of the absolute LEAST effective tools for creating change. We are far better served investing our time into other people, building relationships and sharing Christ’s Love and Truth with them, rather than toeing a party line in hopes that your maybe pro-[insert your issue here] will somehow get the job done and save the world.And I’m REALLY becoming convinced that the amount of time spent on blogs, commenting and interacting in ways that we would NEVER do in person, is becoming an even bigger waste of time. Like cable news networks, something has to be out there all the time, so we better just talk things to death, even though next week no one will even remember what the h*** we were talking about.No offense, Dcn. Greg– you do great work here. But I personally need to find a better investment of my time.



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Katie & Alen

posted May 30, 2008 at 4:34 pm


I agree with Mhari, we need to stop being passive when it comes to sex education. I teach 8th grade catechism and when new students come to my class they have already had two years of public education on sex, contraception, abortion… etc. Its our duty to be aggressive when facing their questions about sex.



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mfranks

posted May 30, 2008 at 5:43 pm


The answer to the question, what this administration has done to fight abortion, is to appoint pro-life judges. The fruit of these appointments are the following rulings:Tuesday, February 28th, 2006: “A 20-year-old legal fight over protests outside abortion clinics ended Tuesday with the Supreme Court ruling that federal extortion and racketeering laws cannot be used against demonstrators.” – MSNBC.COMWednesday, April 18th, 2007: ”The Supreme Court handed a victory to the Bush administration and abortion opponents on Wednesday with its decision to uphold a 2003 federal law that bans partial birth abortions.” – Fox News.COMThese two rulings were very significant!The democratic candidates have promised that they will appoint ‘pro-choice’ candidates once they are elected. If this happens, we will in all likelihood have abortions for another 30 years or so.When Roe v. Wade is challenged next in the courts, we will need one or two more judges who are anti-abortion in my opinion.



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artandsoul

posted May 31, 2008 at 12:46 pm


I am not going to argue with anyone on here, or anyone in person, about an opinion as to whether or not elections in our country should be decided on a single issue.For those of you who stand firmly on the side that there is but one issue facing this world and it is abortion, then fine. That is your opinion and your stance. I respect your decision.I disagree that this world that I live in – as a Catholic – is best described and lived from the standpoint of a single issue. And that is my stand. I do not expect respect from anyone and so I will take my leave from the blogging board.You may be able to get me off of your favorite blogging spots, but you will not get me out of the Catholic Church.Be well.



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Michael

posted May 31, 2008 at 11:27 pm


Cindy, you be well too. I agree with you all the way.



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mfranks

posted June 1, 2008 at 3:49 pm


Cindy, it’s not ‘the only’ issue – true enough. But ‘it’ is the only non-negotiable issue.With that said, hearts and minds are not won in telling someone their wrong – people just dig-in and fortify their positions, unfortunately.Instead they should research the issue more fully, understanding that they may indeed be mistaken or misguided. One should do due diligence on the matter at hand and pray for guidance from God.



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Katherine

posted June 4, 2008 at 2:51 pm


I want to applaud those here who have made their case for McCain with civility and reason. I think the data shows that the reason conservative Catholics are in play, in part, is because other conservative political operatives have been overly harsh and judgmental (such as those who say Obama practices infanticide). That has pushed thousands of conservative Catholics to Barack Obama’s message of hope and community. Where things go from here, we will have to see.



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Sandy

posted October 28, 2008 at 10:14 am


I am not a Catholic, but I am a Christian and recognize that God is the author and creator of ALL life. And I have deep respect for the Catholic faith and faithful.With regard to voting for a candidate based on their stance on Abortion in America, your blessed Mother Teresa said it best and convicted me deep in my soul that this is NON-negotiable. All that we do, hold dear and profess are rooted in our understanding of how precious life is.She said: America needs no words from me to see how your decision in Roe v. Wade has deformed a great nation. The so-called right to abortion has pitted mothers against their children and women against men. It has sown violence and discord at the heart of the most intimate human relationships. It has aggravated the derogation of the father’s role in an increasingly fatherless society. It has portrayed the greatest of gifts — a child — as a competitor, an intrusion, and an inconvenience. It has nominally accorded mothers unfettered dominion over the independent lives of their physically dependent sons and daughters” And, in granting this unconscionable power, it has exposed many women to unjust and selfish demands from their husbands or other sexual partners. Human rights are not a privilege conferred by government. They are every human being’s entitlement by virtue of his humanity. The right to life does not depend, and must not be declared to be contingent, on the pleasure of anyone else, not even a parent or a sovereign.” (Mother Theresa — “Notable and Quotable,” Wall Street Journal, 2/25/94, p. A14)



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