For Democrats, U.S. Catholic vote was the one that got away

November 3, 2010

Republican gains in Tuesday’s mid-term elections were helped by the inroads the party made into the biggest “swing faith” in the country — the Catholic faith.

According to the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life, analysis of data from the National Election Pool exit poll reported by CNN shows white Protestants remained stoutly Republican, and atheists and the unaffiliated are still in the Democratic camp.

But Catholic voters, who favored Democratic over Republican candidates in the last two congressional elections by double-digit margins, moved heavily into the Republican camp on Tuesday, when the party regained control of the U.S. House of Representatives. You can see the Pew analysis here.


Its analysis suggests 54 percent of Catholic voters pulled the lever for Republicans on Tuesday and 44 percent for Democrats. In the 2008 House vote, the Democrats managed to get 55 percent of the Catholic vote while Republicans only got 42.

Even among white Protestants the Republicans made gains, getting 69 percent of their vote this time compared with 63 percent in the 2008 House elections.  Among white evangelical Protestants, long seen as a key Republican base, the party’s gains were even more impressive, rising to 78 percent of that vote from 70 percent in 2008.

This raises a number of interesting questions, but a big one for Democratic strategists will be: was the Catholic vote the big one that got away? And how can they reel those voters back in come 2012?

(Photo: US House Republican Leaders Eric Cantor (R-VA) (L) and John Boehner (R-OH) meet reporters the morning after sweeping gains in mid-term elections, at the US Capitol in Washington, November 3, 2010. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

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