The Catholic vote in America used to be a monolith, with up to 80 percent of Catholics supporting the Democratic candidate for president. Those days are gone, but the Catholic vote — especially in the northeast and upper midwest — is crucial. Catholics have voted for the presidential winner in 8 of the last 9 elections. They make up about 22 percent of the electorate.
But Catholics are riven by divisions between those who say they mostly follow the Church’s teachings and those who don’t. More conservative Catholics have been trending Republican in recent elections and that trend is expected to accelerate when Catholics go to the polls in November and vote for Trump.
Trump has been called the most pro-life president in history. That, along with his appeals to faith, family, and patriotism are very attractive to more devout Catholics.
About 18% of Catholics say they accept all the church’s teachings, versus 38% who say they accept most of them, and 29% who say they do not accept some key teachings, according to a February EWTN News/RealClearOpinion poll.
“Among Catholics who do practice the faith in a substantive way, yes, there’s been a dramatic shift over the last several decades away from the Democratic Party and into the Republican Party, and I think it’s been especially pronounced under President Trump,” [Catholic Vote President Brian] Burch said.
Biden is very touchy about his Catholicism, bristling when questioned about his pro-choice stance being directly opposed to church teachings on abortion. He has also opposed the Trump administration to carve out exemptions for people of faith in Obamacare.
For traditional Catholics, however, Mr. Biden remains a hard sell, given his pro-choice stance on abortion and his opposition to conscience exemptions for religious organizations, business owners and medical professionals under Obamacare.
CatholicVote sought to drive home the point by unveiling Tuesday a $9.7 million campaign in six key swing states targeting “Joe Biden’s anti-Catholic record and policy agenda,” including digital ads, canvassing and direct mail.
Catholics are not only worried about Biden, but also his running mate, Kamala Harris, who apparently believes the Knights of Columbus are some kind of super-secret anti-abortion club. In 2018, she grilled a judicial nominee over his membership in the KOC.
“Since 1993, you have been a member of the Knights of Columbus, an all-male society comprised primarily of Catholic men,” said Ms. Harris during the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. “Were you aware that the Knights of Columbus opposed a woman’s right to choose when you joined the organization?”
The Catholic Association described Ms. Harris, a Baptist, as “the ringleader of the anti-Catholic bullying stance adopted by the Democratic Party.”
There are still enough Catholics in key states like Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, and Minnesota to make the difference for Trump in November. Whether they come out and vote for him is another question. But with so much at stake — and now, a Supreme Court vacancy that could be filled with a Biden nominee who would make abortion on demand far easier to get — you would think that turnout would give Trump a big boost.