Barack Obama is in a virtual tie with John McCain for the Catholic vote, the “Holy Grail” of the campaign, as Amy Sullivan puts it in her analysis of TIME’s latest poll which shows 45 percent of the 47 million Catholic voters–concentrated in key swing states, as TIME’s map shows–versus 44 percent for Obama. This is an unexpectedly good showing for Obama. But Sullivan leads with yet another story about Doug Kmiec, the Reaganite Roman Catholic turned Obamacon. How much mileage can we get out of the “Kmiec Catholic,” as we must now dub him, as if he were a new discovery like Australopithecus africanus, an elusive missing link. Or is he actually Piltdown Man, an elaborate hoax?
Here is Sullivan:
A new Time poll of Catholic voters reveals that Kmiec is part of a broader pattern. Although Obama was thought to have a “Catholic problem” during the Democratic primaries, in which Hillary Clinton won a majority of Catholic votes, he has pulled even with John McCain among that constituency–Obama now polls 44% to his GOP opponent’s 45%.
There are 47 million Catholic voters, and while they are too numerous and varied to speak of as a monolithic Catholic bloc, they have long been a kind of holy grail for presidential candidates. The winner of eight out of the past nine elections has captured a majority of Catholic votes (they voted for Al Gore in 2000), and there are large Catholic concentrations in key states like Florida, Ohio and New Mexico.
The trick is figuring out what Catholics want…
PS: Check out the nifty graphics.