Swing states put American Catholics in a decisive position

Published: Wednesday, Oct. 31 2012 11:00 a.m. MDT

President Barack Obama, left, and Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, right, laugh with Cardinal Timothy Dolan during the Archdiocese of New York's 67th Annual Alfred. E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner, Thursday, Oct. 18, 2012, at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York.

Carolyn Kaster, Associated Press

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Our take: With Election Day approaching, President Obama and Mitt Romney's campaigns are targeting groups that have the most undecided voters. Among religious groups, Catholics are more likely to be split down the middle with political party affiliation, compared to other religious groups like Jews and white evangelical Christians.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Once again, Catholics will decide who will live in the White House for the next four years. It is not that Catholics constitute a majority of the electorate. Nor is it the case that there is any monolithic "Catholic vote" poised to go one way or the other. But, for a variety of reasons, Catholics will nonetheless break one way or the other in the final weeks of the race, and that will decide whether President Barack Obama or Gov. Mitt Romney wins.

The final weeks of a race are all about targeting a campaign's message and trying to get one's supporters to the polls. Most other religious demographics lean decisively one way or another. White evangelical Christians are overwhelmingly Republican, so it makes no sense for Democrats to run ads on Christian radio or leaflet at an evangelical church: For every two or three Obama supporters they remind to vote, they will also be reminding seven or eight Romney voters to turn out at the polls. Jews vote overwhelmingly Democratic, so it is unlikely the GOP will be running ads in Jewish media. (When Republicans talk about Israel, they are targeting evangelical Christian voters, who champion Israel for their own theological reasons, not Jewish voters.) Conversely, black evangelicals are the most overwhelmingly Democratic constituency in the country.

Catholics, however, mirror the general electorate. About 46 percent are reliably Democratic voters and a like number almost always support the Republican candidate.

Read more about Swing states put American Catholics in a decisive position on National Catholic Reporter.

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