The Vibrancy of the Catholic Vote

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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Paul, seeking wisdom.

posted August 7, 2008 at 4:26 pm

The Catholic vote is based on a wide range of issues. Unlike the Evangelical White of the so called “Bible Belt”, they are diverse and individual in their opinions. A Polish Catholic has about as much in common with an Irish Catholic as a Jew has with a Arab.
So when they talk about the “Catholic vote” they really haven’t a clue. There is no such thing.

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posted August 8, 2008 at 2:07 pm

I’m not sure how the Ohio Catholics are all “conservative small business types who trace their roots to Germany.” That may be true in traditional downstate Republican strongholds like Cincinnati, but Cleveland is loaded with Irish, Eastern Europeans and Hispanics. Lorain has a lot of Eastern Europeans and Hispanics as well. One of the issues that seemed to help Bush in the last election in Ohio was a constitutional amendment concerning marriage. I agree, however, that Catholics are not all single-issue voters. Many Catholics do not vote solely on the basis of abortion and the ones that do are probably simply Republicans.

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posted August 8, 2008 at 4:21 pm

For this Catholic, my vote does not hinge on abortion and homosexuality.
The issue for diversity in the Catholic church is more than racial. There are issues of economics and education.

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posted August 8, 2008 at 7:51 pm

I know this site is owned by FOX but does no one on it have any issue with the “just add water-concept” of ” “values issues”–code for abortion and gay marriage “… Um & er… Ooooooooooooook.
That is a GIGANTIC leap of logic and assumption: we are being TOLD what is important to us, standard pop-o-ganda. So, as of the writing of this article now magically, values equal homophobia and automatic pro-life bias ( I am not on either side of this question- but I don’t like to be TOLD which side I am on. ) There are a number of other ’embedded assumptions’ in this article- ideas which are spoken as if everyone agrees they are true so that the listener automatically assumes that.
That is low-grade writing. You could not do that in a first year English class- and TIME magazine or not- bias and propaganda should not be welcomed on beliefnet so easily.

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Paul, seeking wisdom.

posted August 11, 2008 at 1:01 pm

Sorry Dru…. It is not FOX, it is CNN and TIME mag. that ar in partnership with GOM. Get the facts straight.

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