The Corner

The Catholic Vote: No Myth

Michael O’Brien writes for msnbc.com:

The most misunderstood voting bloc in the 2012 election is the Catholic vote.

Why?

Because there isn’t one.

The religious assemblage, which has evolved over the past century from a strong Democratic constituency into a national election bellwether, is no longer discernible from most other voter groups. As the community has become less homogenous and more assimilated into mainstream culture, so has its voting habits – sending many politicians on a fool’s errand in pursuit of the “Catholic vote.”

Of course it is true that there is no “Catholic vote” if that phrase is meant to connote a group that votes with the uniformity of black Americans. It’s true as well that other facets of a person’s identity — race, marital status, frequency of churchgoing — are more predictive of his vote than his religious affiliation.

But Catholicism does seem to affect voting behavior. Catholics are “discernible from most other voter groups” in their tendency to swing between the parties — which evangelicals, Jews, blacks, single women, and most other voter groups don’t do. The evidence, some of it presented in O’Brien’s article, suggests that Catholics tend to swing a little bit more than the general electorate does. So, for example, Bush improved his share of Catholic voters between 2000 and 2004 more than he did his overall share; and the Republican share of the Catholic vote fell a bit more between 2004 and 2008 than did the Republican share of the overall vote. Swing voters are disproportionately Catholics. Politicians are wise to take note.

Ramesh Ponnuru — Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg View, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

Most Popular

U.S.

The Gun-Control Debate Could Break America

Last night, the nation witnessed what looked a lot like an extended version of the famous “two minutes hate” from George Orwell’s novel 1984. During a CNN town hall on gun control, a furious crowd of Americans jeered at two conservatives, Marco Rubio and Dana Loesch, who stood in defense of the Second ... Read More
Film & TV

Why We Can’t Have Wakanda

SPOILERS AHEAD Black Panther is a really good movie that lives up to the hype in just about every way. Surely someone at Marvel Studios had an early doubt, reading the script and thinking: “Wait, we’re going to have hundreds of African warriors in brightly colored tribal garb, using ancient weapons, ... Read More
Law & the Courts

Obstruction Confusions

In his Lawfare critique of one of my several columns about the purported obstruction case against President Trump, Gabriel Schoenfeld loses me — as I suspect he will lose others — when he says of himself, “I do not think I am Trump-deranged.” Gabe graciously expresses fondness for me, and the feeling is ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Students’ Anti-Gun Views

Are children innocents or are they leaders? Are teenagers fully autonomous decision-makers, or are they lumps of mental clay, still being molded by unfolding brain development? The Left seems to have a particularly hard time deciding these days. Take, for example, the high-school students from Parkland, ... Read More