Thank you for your thoughtful unpacking of the Catholic question.
The most persuasive explanation of why Hillary would be doing better than Obama among Catholics is that she “inherits much of the Catholic goodwill bestowed upon her husband.”
What I’m still confused about is this: all of the issues cited by Ray Flynn and others (health care, children, families) can just as easily be ascribed to Obama. If it’s really simply that they’rer more familiar with her track record, well, that would seem to be a surmountable problem for Obama over time.
Here’s my theory: in the Democratic primaries, the Catholic vote has nothing to do with Catholicism. It’s not about abortion, it’s not about social justice. As you point out, Democratic Party catholics tend to be less mass-attending than the Catholic population as a whole. When all the dust settles and the numbers are fully crunched, it will turn out that other factors were the tale that wagged the Catholic vote. It may be that Hillary just runs strong among working class, rust belters, and that in Pennsylvania and Ohio, working class high school grads tend to be more Catholic.