The Catholic Voter 2004-2008

[Click above and at right on PRINT THIS ARTICLE to reformat today’s column in a more readable form.]


Utilizing available data, I’ve compiled the following chart that compares votes cast by Catholics in the 2004 and 2008 presidential elections.

Generic Catholic Vote
 
 
 

2004 Generic

Catholic Vote

2008 Generic

Catholic Vote

Catholic
Vote
 
State

% of Catholics

 
Bush %
 
Kerry %
 
McCain %
 
Obama %

McCain 2008 vs.

Bush 2004
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Alabama
8
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
Alaska
17
67
31
N/A
N/A
Arizona
23
52
47
49
49
-3
Arkansas
6
57
42
N/A
N/A
California
28
35
63
37
58
+2
Colorado
19
52
46
N/A
N/A
Connecticut
48
53
47
50
46
-3
Delaware
31
53
47
39
61
-14
Florida
28
57
42
49
50
-8
Georgia
10
69
31
N/A
N/A
Hawaii
30
49
51
N/A
N/A
Idaho
13
60
40
N/A
N/A
Illinois
36
44
56
43
57
-1
Indiana
18
56
43
50
50
-6
Iowa
23
46
53
41
50
-5
Kansas
22
61
39
N/A
N/A
Kentucky
21
57
43
N/A
N/A
Louisiana
38
68
31
70
27
+2
Maine
26
40
58
37
61
-3
Maryland
24
57
41
N/A
N/A
Massachusetts
44
49
51
N/A
N/A
Michigan
29
49
50
46
51
-3
Minnesota
28
49
50
47
53
-2
Mississippi
10
80
19
N/A
N/A
Missouri
22
50
49
55
45
+5
Montana
24
56
43
N/A
N/A
Nebraska
22
67
32
N/A
N/A
Nevada
25
47
52
42
57
-5
New Hampshire
38
52
47
50
50
-2
New Jersey
44
58
41
55
45
-3
New Mexico
32
38
61
29
69
-9
New York
42
51
48
41
59
-10
North Carolina
9
60
40
N/A
N/A
North Dakota
25
62
36
N/A
N/A
Ohio
26
55
44
52
47
-3
Oklahoma
9
66
34
N/A
N/A
Oregon
11
42
58
37
63
-5
Pennsylvania
35
49
51
52
48
+3
Rhode Island
57
40
59
38
60
-2
South Carolina
10
62
37
N/A
N/A
South Dakota
25
63
36
N/A
N/A
Tennessee
9
52
47
N/A
N/A
Texas
21
51
49
N/A
N/A
Utah
5
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
Vermont
31
48
52
37
63
-11
Virginia
15
63
36
N/A
N/A
Washington
16
37
62
35
63
-2
West Virginia
10
53
46
N/A
N/A
Wisconsin
32
48
52
47
53
-1
Wyoming
19
54
45
N/A
N/A

As the chart shows, this year many states did not track religious affiliation among voters, probably for financial reasons. But the trends within the data we have are quite clear. In 2004, President Bush received 52 percent of the generic Catholic vote; 61 percent of church-going Catholics; 41 percent of Hispanics. Senator McCain’s numbers were down across the board. He received 45 percent of the generic Catholic vote; 52 percent of church attendees; and 32 percent of the Hispanic vote.

It also appears that in the rust belt states of Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Indiana, many practicing Catholics simply stayed home. Why they did so is, for now, a matter of speculation, but it would not be unreasonable to guess that the state of the economy angered many who did not like Obama, but remained unmoved by McCain. And there are other telling numbers. In the city of Philadelphia, which is half African-American, voter turnout was down 10 percent from 2004. Most whites in Philadelphia are ethnic Italian-Americans, who for one reason or another chose to do something else than vote on Election Day.

This trend was also evident in the rest of Pennsylvania. Even though Catholics went against the national trend with 52 percent casting their vote for McCain, (a 4 percent improvement over Bush) in the ten counties with the largest Catholic populations, voter turnout declined in eight of them:

 

 
Pennsylvania Catholic Vote
 
 
County
 
Catholic (%)
 
Median
Income
2008 Presidential
Winner
2004 Presidential
Winner
Voter Turnout
2004 v. 2008
 
 
 
 
 
 
Elk
64.6%
$37,550
Obama 51%
Bush 54%
-7.1%
Cambria
54.7%
$30,179
Obama 56%
Bush 51%
-10.6%
Lackawanna
49.7%
$34,438
Obama 63%
Kerry 56%
+1.9%
Alleghany
49.3%
$38,329
Obama 57%
Kerry 57%
-1%
Delaware
48.9%
$50,092
Obama 60%
Kerry 57%
-1%
Bucks
43.7%
$59,727
Obama 54%
Kerry 51%
-2.5%
Schuylkill
42.2%
$32,699
McCain 54%
Bush 55%
-4.6%
Erie
36.7%
$36,627
Obama 59%
Kerry 54%
-1.6%
Northampton
35.8%
$45,234
Obama 55%
Kerry 50%
+5.6%
Westmoreland
35.5%
$37,106
McCain 58%
Bush 56%
-6.7%
 

Careful breakouts of the numbers make clear that large percentages of GOP-voting Catholics in several of the poorest Pennsylvania counties were AWOL. These GOP losses among Catholics must surely be characterized as self-inflicted. The McCain campaign admittedly failed to paint a vivid and appealing social and economic vision for Americans. But it still might have done better among Catholics if its Catholic outreach program hadn’t been caught up in internal strife and run by people more interested in their own futures than the success of the candidate.

 



  • dad29

    Seems that your analysis supports the general conclusion that McCain lost–or more acerbically, McCain ran a lousy campaign with lousy planks.

    IOW, why would anyone vote for him?

    Only to defeat Obama.