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God-O-Meter

bishops.jpgAs Spiritual Politics’ Mark Silk puts it:

Today’s NYT article on abortion and the Catholic vote by John Broder is pretty inadequate.

The problem is that Broder treats Catholics like single-issue voters, a trap that the news media at large–including God-o-Meter, on occasion–fall into.
Silk points out that Catholic voting patterns vary considerably by race and region:

…Broder does not differentiate between Latino and white Catholics, the former as solid a Democratic constituency as exists, the latter the swingiest of swing ones. This would help make some sense of the table of swing states (unfortunately not included in the online version), which shows the vote differential among Catholics in the 2004 presidential election ranging from a 27-point margin for Bush in Virginia to a 25-point margin for Kerry in Washington state. Not that the white-Latino difference accounts for everything. Indeed, white Catholics dominate the Catholic vote in both Virginia and Washington state. If mostly white Catholic constituencies can vary by as much as 52 points from one state to another, there’s a real question of whether there’s such a thing as even a “white Catholic vote” in any meaningful sense.
Region counts for a lot here. Survey data shows, for example, that white Catholics in the South are a lot more conservative than white Catholics in the Pacific Northwest…. Even within regions, the white Catholic vote can vary a good deal. In Michigan, John Kerry carried Catholics by one percentage point whereas next door in Ohio, Bush carried them by 11 points. Why? Because white Catholics in Michigan include a lot of East Europeans with union backgrounds in the auto industry, whereas Catholicism in Ohio is dominated by conservative small business types who trace their roots to Germany.

It points to that age-old question: does a “Catholic vote” really exist?


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