The Corner

Mass Catholic Vote

The American Values Survey, released today by the Public Religion Research Institute, finds that — as CEO Robert Jones puts it — there is no Catholic vote. And if there were a Catholic vote, four weeks ago (when the survey data were collected) it would have voted 52 percent to 48 percent for Obama. That was during the high-water mark of the Obama campaign when Gallup found him hitting 50 percent.

But while the overall figures on Catholic voting preferences are not informative, it is interesting to see how wide the presidential-preference divide is between Catholics who attend Mass regularly and those who do not. Evidently Catholics are substantially more polarized this cycle, with Romney winning 61 percent of religiously active Catholics (besting Bush’s 56 percent in 2004) and 37 percent of inactive Catholics (worse than McCain’s 41 percent in 2008). Romney’s 48 percent Catholic vote overall is about at the median between McCain’s 45 percent and Bush’s 52 percent.

As the race has tightened since the “American Values Survey” was conducted, it is unlikely that Romney will underperform McCain among secular Catholics, but he is approaching a historic return among faithful Catholics. Why might that be? The very real threat to religious freedom posed by the Obama administration — I have in mind not just the HHS mandate, but also the Hosanna-Tabor Supreme Court case and other examples of administration hostility — cannot be dismissed. Half of Catholics who attend Mass heard a letter from their bishop read in Church describing the threat of the HHS mandate to the Church’s social-service activities. While this survey reports that a 56–40 percent majority thinks religiously affiliated colleges and hospitals should be required to cover contraception at no cost, this wording can be dismissed out-of-hand as inadequately characterizing the HHS mandate which requires far more than contraceptives, yielding a result contradicted by most other national surveys.

The survey report takes a stab at articulating a new typology of “social justice” Catholics versus “right-to-life” Catholics, but this effort fails. Such typologies should not be based on a single survey question, and choosing between the defense of life and helping the poor is a false choice. Instead, the survey ought to have offered respondents a “social renewal” alternative to the “social justice” agenda, allowing respondents to express their concern for the nation’s moral ecology. Actually, there was one such question left on the cutting room floor: 72 percent (of all respondents) agreed that the main cause of America’s problems is moral decay.

 Steven Wagner is the president of QEV Analytics, a public-opinion research firm in Washington D.C.

Most Popular

Culture

Courage: The Greatest of Virtues

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is Jonah Goldberg’s weekly “news”letter, the G-File. Subscribe here to get the G-File delivered to your inbox on Fridays. Dear Reader (Or Listener), As the reporter assigned the job of writing the article about all of Sidney Blumenthal’s friends and supporters told his ... Read More
Immigration

My American Dream

This morning, at 8 a.m., I did something I’ve wanted to do for as long as I can remember: I became an American. I first applied for a visa in early 2011, and since then I have slowly worked my way through the system — first as a visa-holder, then as a permanent resident (green card), and, finally, as a ... Read More
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