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The 2012 Catholic Vote: An Early Assessment Print E-mail
By George J. Marlin   
Monday, 19 November 2012

I live in Long Island and in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy my home was without electricity, heat or lights for 14 days, 2 hours, and 30 minutes.  Sitting in the dark every night shivering in my living room (which hit a low of 49 degrees), I had plenty of time to brood over the disastrous 2012 election results, the way Catholics voted in particular, and why it happened.

Here’s what I came up with:

GOP internal tracking polls that had Romney winning were wrong because pollsters could not factor into their mathematical formulas the effectiveness of Obama’s Election Day ground operation. Obama people may be awful at governing, but they excel at mobilizing turnout.

Leftist community organizers, often financed by our tax dollars, have been fine tuning their “get out the vote” techniques since the mid-1960s.  And during the past four years, they went beyond identifying voting blocs by zip codes or neighborhoods. They actually compiled dossiers on millions of individuals who were sympathetic to their agenda and personalized messages designed to push their political hot buttons.

Obama’s Chicago gang focused on turning out pro-abortion single women, Latinos, African-Americans, and recipients of government welfare programs – and keeping home 2008 Obama supporters who were leaning against him this year—particularly blue-collar Catholics.

The disenchanted were inundated with campaign propaganda that painted Romney as an out of touch plutocrat who would be a worse president than Obama.  The success of this voter suppression strategy explains why Obama was the first re-elected president to receive fewer votes than in his first election.

As for the Catholic vote, utilizing currently available data (which is still not complete), I’ve compiled the following chart that compares votes cast by Catholics in the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections in a dozen or so states where exit polling was done and actually allows us to make such comparisons. (Though you will see exit polls reported on by various news outlets, basically all of them were conducted by Edison Media Research, which supplied the results broken down below.)

 
 
 
2008 Generic
Catholic Vote
2012 Generic
Catholic Vote
Catholic
Vote
 
State
% of Catholics
 
 McCain %
 
Obama %
 
Romney %
 
Obama %
Romney 2012 vs.
McCain 2008
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
AZ
23
49
49
50
50
+1
CA
28
37
58
38
62
+1
CT
48
50
46
49
51
-1
FL
28
49
50
52
47
+3
IA
23
41
50
52
47
+11
ME
26
37
61
41
56
+4
MI
29
46
51
55
44
+9
NV
25
42
57
46
51
+4
NH
38
50
50
54
46
+4
NJ
44
55
45
43
45
-1
NM
32
29
69
32
64
+3
NY
42
41
59
53
47
+12
NC
9
N/A
N/A
66
34
--
OH
26
52
47
55
44
+3
PA
35
52
48
50
49
-2
VA
15
N/A
N/A
55
45
--
WI
32
47
53
56
44
+9
 

As is clear, in most state results there was a slight shift in the Catholic vote towards Mitt Romney, but quite a large movement to the Republican candidate in Iowa, Michigan, New York, and Wisconsin – all battleground states with the exception of New York. The worst change for Republicans was in Pennsylvania, which registered a 2 percent increase in Catholic votes for the Democrat incumbent, President Obama.

Nationwide, in 2008, Senator McCain received 45 percent of the generic Catholic vote, 52 percent of church-going Catholics, 53 percent of White Catholics, and 32 percent of Hispanics.  Governor Romney received 48 percent of the generic Catholic vote, 57 percent of Church attendees, 52 percent of cafeteria Catholics, 59 percent of white Catholics, and 27 percent of Hispanics.

While white Catholic support for the Republican nominee was higher than McCain’s in 2008, turnout was not enough in the battleground states of Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Ohio to put them into the GOP Electoral College column.  On the other hand, the Hispanic vote increased by about 9 million over 2008 totals.  This helped put Obama over the top in the tightly contested states of Florida, Nevada, and Colorado.

In my next column for The Catholic Thing, I will try to provide a broader analysis of the impact of Catholic voter turnout in key swing states, which is a more complex phenomenon than has been recognized to date. For now, it’s worth noting the curious fact that most news outlets have not made much of an effort to dig into the Catholic results.  In several ways, Catholic voters were trending back a bit towards Catholic values, but how, why – and in many cases, why not – will occupy us in our next.

 
 
George J. Marlin is an editor of The Quotable Fulton Sheen and the author of The American Catholic VoterHis most recent book is Narcissist Nation: Reflections of a Blue-State Conservative.
 
 
The Catholic Thing is a forum for intelligent Catholic commentary. Opinions expressed by writers are solely their own.
 

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Comments (19)Add Comment
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written by G.K. Thursday, November 19, 2012
Thanks, Mr. Marlin for putting so much work into these posts. They are always insightful.

It's true that a large segment of the "catholic" population pays no attention to their presumed Roman Catholic faith. That's why they vote willy-nilly for all kinds of kinds of candidates who simply appeal to their self-motivations. Who are these "catholics" claimed to be voting this-way or that-way? Well, basically there are three ways of being identified as "catholic" these days: 1) Canonical/Liturigical: someone was baptized as a Roman Catholic, but they may not practice in any way; 2) Self-Proclaimed: someone self-identifies as "catholic" but may or may not practice the faith except in a self-defined desultory way; 3) Faithful: someone lives out the faith in a wholistic manner, following the authentic teachers of the Roman Catholic Church (i.e., the successors to the Apostles, the Bishops) in communion with the See of Peter.

People falling into categories 1) & 2) may feel some kind of attachment to a mental image they have of the true Roman Catholic Church, but what they practice is really their own self-defined religion (and this can be true even of vowed religious and/or priests). As St. Augustine wrote to Faustus (head of the Manicheans, who claimed to be following the "true" teachings of Christ): "Undique tergiversatio vestra contunditur. Aperte dicite non vos credere Christi Evangelio: nam qui in Evangelio quod vultis creditis, quod vultis non creditis, vobis potius quam Evangelio creditis." (trans. "Your evasions are met in every way. You ought to say plainly that you do not believe the gospel of Christ. For to believe what you please, and not to believe what you please, is to believe yourselves, and not the gospel.") Contra Faustum Manichaeum. Liber Decimus septimus, Caput Tertius (Book 17, Chapter 3)

Only those in category 3 have a genuine Roman Catholicism which is not ashamed of its faithfulness to the tradition that Jesus entrusted to his Apostles, and, through them, to the hierarchical Roman Catholic Church.

Aidan Nichols O.P. writing of the state of the faith in England, said "Such ‘post-Christians’ come in three varieties. First, there are those who were christened and at one time believed and practiced the faith but have since fallen away in what the Lineamenta [for the Synod of Bishops held in autumn 2012] terms ‘silent apostasy’. Secondly, there are those who may be christened but have never really had the Gospel preached to them, and are accordingly baptized pagans. And thirdly, there are those who come from historically Christian families which have abandoned contact with Church life at some point over the past generations."
0
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written by Jack,CT, November 19, 2012
Dear Mr Marlin,
Thanks for a great piece!,sorry for
the tremendous loss "Sandy" was for you.
I for one can not understand how any Catholic could
vote for a pro Abortion anyone!
I live in a "Blue" state but the number of Catholics
is high as you pointed out,I am so upset with the %
of "Our" vote going Blue.
I can only pray for people who would vote "Pro Choice"
as well as for the HHS mandate!
We have many challenges and must never give up,I still
am amazed at the "Push" for a 9 dollar script of synthetic
hormones whitch breaks down to 29 cents a day!
This during a time when people have the time to wait
outside stores for a week,instead of working!
I relize i am all over the place and apologize to all.
God Bless everyone and pray for our brothers and sisters
in the middle east.
Jack
0
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written by Tom Reeves, November 19, 2012
It's the welfare state, stupid.
0
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written by Jack,CT, November 19, 2012
@Tommy would not go that far,,,and the only thing
that is "Stupid" is your obvious bias,but
God Bless.
Jack
0
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written by Anne Parks, November 19, 2012
The Catholic vote for Obama to me was shocking.I guess I was naive.When Caroline Kennedy proudly proclaimed at the democratic convention, I am a Catholic women and I am pro-choice and not a thing was said by ANY bishop or cardinal or priest, I knew it was over for Catholics. We have no moral direction and it is more important to be politically correct than to uphold our faith. We have gotten what we deserve, abortion, rationed healthcare and the next thing is euthanasia which is already legal in a few states.
0
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written by Grump, November 19, 2012
The 47% were a lock so Obama only needed another 5 percentage points, which was easy as pie. As for the Catholic vote being split roughly 50-50, it just goes to prove that deep down the Church's teachings on homosexuality, birth control and abortion count for nothing.
0
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written by Bill M., November 19, 2012
Thank you for your many helpful thoughts on the election throught the past weeks. I would be interested to know if your analysis shows whether "the Catholic vote" exists: do they vote in a manner systematically distinct from the rest of the population?
0
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written by jsmitty, November 19, 2012
Mr. Marlin writes:

Obama’s Chicago gang focused on turning out pro-abortion single women, Latinos, African-Americans, and recipients of government welfare programs – and keeping home 2008 Obama supporters who were leaning against him this year—particularly blue-collar Catholics.

me: this kind of sounds like sour grapes. If GOP candidates can't develop proposals to get their own voters to the polls or address the problems of working class Americans that used to support them, it's a little pathetic to blame the proficiency of the other side. It sounds a bit like the Kansas City Chiefs blaming the other teams' defense because their befuddled QB can't complete passes. What NFL fan would feel sorry for them?!?!?


Mr. Marlin also writes:



In several ways, Catholic voters were trending back a bit towards Catholic values, but how, why – and in many cases, why not – will occupy us in our next.

me: maybe...but I think a simpler explanation is that Romney did a little better with non-Hispanic (i.e. "white") Catholics than McCain did. Most of these are more upscale voters anyway, who did trend a bit back to the GOP. We probably should not assume that higher support for the Republican nominee is in any way attributable to increased support for "Catholic values", given that many of these same voters voted for Obama the last time--when his positions were not exactly a secret, and given that ROmney is hardly much of a symbol for "Catholic values."

That said, I think there is alot of hope for the pro-life cause in general, (which is too lengthy to get into here) but more votes for Mitt Romney shouldn't be blithely taken as evidence for it.
0
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written by Ray Hunkins, November 19, 2012
Thank you for this informative piece Mr. Marlin. There is an error (typo?) with regard to New Jersey. Perhaps you could provide the correct numbers, McCain vs. Romney, 2008 vs 2012. A point to keep in mind: Since the reported results are from exit polls, the accuracy of results are dependent on the accuracy and veracity of the respondent exiting the polling place.
0
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written by Howard Kainz, November 19, 2012
One factor you don't mention: In the wake of superstorm "Sandy" newpapers and TV were full of pictures of Obama acting "presidential." This went on for a few days up to the election. Romney could not do anything presidential. For fickle voters, Catholic or non-Catholic, this can be a decision-maker. Chris Matthews on CNN, talking about the factors favoring an Obama victory, famously said "I'm so glad we had that storm last week because I think the storm was one of those things."
0
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written by Howard Kainz, November 19, 2012
Correction: Chris Matthews is at MSNBC.
0
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written by Graham Combs, November 19, 2012
That California statistic of 62 percent for Obama should not surprise. On the front page of The Tidings newspaper a couple of weeks ago (the publication of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles) were the Major of LA and two actors, James Olmos and Mike Farrell. All three are pro-choice and pro-same sex marriage. At issue in the article was neither of these nor even immigration, but the death penalty. Not surprising given the high crime rate among hispanics, and their falling away from their Catholic faith, marriage and family. You would think that the take-away from this issue would be the sacraments of baptism, Christian initiation, and marriage. But no. It's more important to blame the state (when you're not promoting its increased width and breadth over the population) and the Americans worried about crime and rule of law. I keep remembering that great one liner from Peter Kreeft: Judas Iscariot was the first bishop to take a government grant. It's funny except when it isn't. Whatever they're doing in the Golden State it's working -- for the Democrats but not for the children.
0
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written by ken masugi, November 19, 2012
"On the other hand, the Hispanic vote increased by about 9 million over 2008 totals." Can this possibly be right? I look forward to your next installment.
0
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written by Manfred, November 19, 2012
Mr.Marlin: May we define Catholic? A Catholic is one who is trained to believe in the Four Last Things: Death, Judgememnt, Heaven or Hell. For forty years we have heard comments such as: "While we have to believe that Hell exists, we do not have to believe that anyone is there". When you see Cdl Dolan guffawing it up with the Abortionist-in-Chief at the Al Smith Dinner, do you really think he believes in Hell? David Warren hit it right when he stated in his column yesterday that he realized that the typical catholic (sic) thought of his religion as a support for his ethnicity. It is NOT a system of deeply held beliefs. You might as well be studying how Rotarians, Kiwanians, Moose, Elks and Lions voted.
0
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written by Sue, November 19, 2012
To follow up on the previous article "Strangers in a Strange Land", perhaps you might zero in on the "missing" Romney voters (faithful Catholics who voted neither Obama nor Romney *because* they hewed to the principled "intrinsic evil" teaching). These Catholics have been mercilessly reviled (called "selfish", egotistical, "no better than an Obama voter") by Romney Catholics, probably even more so than were Obama Catholic voters. Thus my analogy to the the "Strangers in a Strange Land" article, where the squeaky busriders were more reviled than the arrogant busdriver.

Instead of stupidly looking to what Republicans can do to win the next election, it might be wise for real Catholics to give the Party a decent burial (after all it did stand against slavery) and start a new one that will *stick* to its guns instead of letting its nominees use its platform as toilet paper. (Sorry for the vulgarity but it captures how the Republicans pushed Romney forward in spite of his embrace of many intrinsic evils - we should have had a better candidate) It seems as though the Republicans are stuck on stupid - I am so beyond caring how they can pull themselves up to win any more elections. Their apparatus didn't even do any good to challenge all of the voting irregularities - un-propping up the Republicans and transferring support to a Catholic-friendly third party (untouched by the Rockefellers) might be just what is needed.
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written by jsmitty, November 19, 2012
I would love a 3rd party too Sue. But the problem is I'm quite sure we'd disagree on what it would be. For me, I'd enthusiastically cast my ballot for a party that was strongly pro-life but also more concerned than the GOP about high unemployment and declining wages for American workers, more skeptical of Wall Street or of corporate power generally and also more prepared than the Repubs to reduce the size of America's bloated defense budget and more skeptical of constant confrontation, ultimatums and interventionism overseas--that all the former Bush people seem to want. That would be my idea of Catholic friendly 3rd party.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but you sound like you're from the more anti-govt. libertarian free market fundamentalist wing of the spectrum?!?!

Truth be told in a two party system, it's hard to get exactly what you want. And I don't think that even Catholics would ever agree on all the issues, which is why it's even harder to form a durable 3rd party.

But all is not lost....Make no mistake that many of Obama supporters are disappointed in him and will be more open to the GOP in 2016 if things don't improve.
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written by Just wondering, November 19, 2012
I was just wondering how someone who voted for Obama and the Democrats, a president and a party fully committed to ushering in a culture of death in direct contradiction to the unequivocal teaching of the Catholic Church, can be considered to be a Catholic?
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written by Tom Ryan, November 20, 2012
As Catholics become more assimilated, they lose their identity. The election shows how right Leo XIII was about Americanism and how bishops along with the Weigels and Novaks who have been promoting it for half a century have made the Church irrelevant.
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written by Mack, November 21, 2012
Perhaps this Catholic alienation is the result of at least two generations of bishops functioning as little more than an obedient subset of the Democratic Party. Bishops should not be subsumed within any political party or identity ideologies of any sort.

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