Will Biden help Obama with the Catholic vote?
DALLAS – With Delaware Senator Joe Biden on the ticket, will Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama make inroads with wavering Catholics in the race for the White House?
In an election year that has seen both Obama’s campaign and that of his Republican rival John McCain try to woo voters of various faiths it is sure to be a question that pundits will ask in coming days.
Obama on Saturday chose Biden, 65, as his vice presidential running mate, ending days of frenzied speculation.
Biden, originally from the battleground state of Pennsylvania, will bring not only foreign policy expertise to the ticket — he chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee — but strong working-class roots and his Catholic faith.
Catholics had strongly supported Hillary Clinton in her failed bid for the Democratic nomination and a number of polls have shown a fairly close race among Catholics with Obama leading nationally by a small margin.
Conservative Catholics tend to line up with evangelicals on issues like abortion but there are also many liberal Catholics in America who like the Democratic Party on economic issues.
Almost one-quarter of U.S. adults are Catholic but their electoral clout is somewhat diluted by their distribution.
According to a June report by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University in Washington, nearly four in 10 U.S. Catholics reside in New York, California and Texas, none of which are closely contested. The first two are solidly Democratic and Texas is Republican.
The report said states “where the Catholic vote could make a real difference are Florida, Ohio and Louisiana.”
Pennsylvania is widely seen as another battleground for the Catholic vote.
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(Photo credit: REUTERS/Jason Reed. Biden at a Democratic Party Debate in December)