Thomas J. Craughwell provides a helpful history of the Catholic vote, beginning with this introduction:
In a few
days, the 2012 presidential election will be history. Your favorite
television stations will not be clogged with campaign attack ads. Your
phone will no longer be ringing with political robo-calls. The talking
heads will move on to talk about something else. Your Facebook friends
will stop lobbying for their candidate. Don’t pretend you won’t be
Of course, it won’t be over entirely. There must be
the inevitable analysis of the election results. Invariably, somebody
will bring up the issue of “the Catholic vote.” This is understandable
considering the many years when Catholics were a fairly consistent
voting bloc for the Democrats, but it really is time for the pundits to
catch up Catholics are just as divided on political and social issues
as their non-Catholic neighbors. Catholics do not vote as a bloc
anymore. Regardless, in this election, Catholics in certain states may
Days after the 2008 election, the Pew Forum
published on its website the article “How the Faithful Voted.” The study
found that 54 percent of Catholic voters cast their ballots for Barack
Obama, 45 percent for John McCain. This was a swing back to the
Democratic candidate in 2004, 52 percent of Catholic voters supported
George W. Bush, while 47 percent backed John Kerry (who, you’ll recall,
Some Catholic political commentators believe that
Catholics will be a decisive factor on Election Day. George J. Marlin,
author of “The American Catholic Voter: 200 Years of Political Impact,”
told NewsMaxTV that he thinks the election will be decided in the
Midwest states that once were centers of heavy industry. These states
have been hit hard by the ongoing recession, and they have large
Catholic populations. Obama swept all these states in 2008, but they
appear to be in play now.
Frustration with the economy may cause
Catholics who voted for Obama in 2008 to vote for former Massachusetts
Gov. Mitt Romney four weeks from now.
The wild card is the
religious liberty issue. The bishops of the United States have asked the
Faithful to stand firm against the Obama administration’s assault on
the First Amendment’s guarantees regarding freedom of religion, but we
won’t know until after the election if this issue influenced Catholic
voters. That may be the most interesting post-election statistic. In the
meantime, let’s look back to how Catholics have voted since the
founding of the republic.
Read the entire piece, "History of the Catholic vote" on the Our Sunday Visitor website.
George Marlin, in The American Catholic Voter, wrote the following:
It has been the contention of this book that for most of our
nation’s history the American Catholic voter has been an important
contributor to the electoral process. For almost two centuries, the Catholic
faithful have united to defend their political turftheir parishes
and neighborhoodsand have tried to fend off political assaults from
nativists, progressives, eugenicists, and reformers.
In the twenty-first century, practicing Catholics in the public square
are quickly learning that while the opposition’s rhetoric may sound
more sophisticated or scientific, the level of distaste for Catholicism
is the same as in previous eras. Catholics are still viewed by the secular
humanists as public villains and in their salons, anti-Catholicism is
still an acceptable prejudice.
Today secular humanists are ecstatically confident they have the political
upper hand and are busily writing obituaries for the Catholic Church in
America. But now as in the past their prejudices blind them from several
realities: While the number of practicing Catholics has declined in recent
decades, the faithful still represent approximately 9 percent of the total
popular vote. Since the bulk of these voters reside in key swing states,
Catholics will continue to have a major impact at the polling booth and
may determine election results.
The other point the secular humanists miss is this: regardless of the
Church’s size, the faith will endure because it has always endured,
its members still standing on the solid 2,000-year-old rock of St. Peter.
And the Church’s faithful in America will continue to adhere to the
tenets of Christ and, like St. Paul at the beginning of the Church, will
"fight the good fight" to ensure that their voices are heard
in the public square.
Read more on Ignatius Insight.