Catholic Voter Guide

THE CATHOLIC VOTER 2012

 

A PRIMER

 

by

 

George J. Marlin

 

Author of The American Catholic Voter:

Two Hundred Years of Political Impact

(St. Augustine’s Press)

 

 

 

 

 

The Faith and Reason Institute

Washington, D.C.

 

 

 

 

 

Table of Contents

 

The Catholic Voter: An Overview

The Wisconsin Catholic Voter

The Ohio Catholic Voter

The Florida Catholic Voter

The Michigan Catholic Voter

The Indiana Catholic Voter

The Pennsylvania Catholic Voter

 

 

 

 

 

The Catholic Voter: An Overview

Historically, Catholics have been a pivotal swing vote that has determined outcomes in numerous national, state, and local elections. In the close contest of 2012, they are likely to make the difference of who will be sworn in as president on January 24, 2013.

 

During the nineteenth century and the early decades of the twentieth, the Democratic Party endorsed several key Catholic social principles, simultaneously appealing to Northern urban Catholic immigrants and Southern agrarian Protestant nativists. Then in 1928, the first Catholic Democrat presidential candidate, Alfred E. Smith, brought out Catholic immigrant voters in record numbers.

 

Smith carried America’s those largest cities by a plurality of 38,000, whereas the 1920 and 1924 Democratic presidential candidates lost those cities by 1.6 million and 1.2 million votes respectively. Most importantly, the inner-city Catholic voters started a new shift in the balance of political power in the United States.

 

Franklin Delano Roosevelt recognized the importance of those votes, and they became the basis of his coalition. FDR was elected four times with the strong support of Roman Catholics, who were basically supportive of the New Deal programs. In 1948 his successor, Harry Truman, running on an anti-Communist platform, received about 80 percent of the Catholic vote and won with 49.5 percent against Dewey’s 45.2 percent overall. Catholics took great pride in their anti-Communism; it made them feel more part of the mainstream in America in fighting that battle.

 

In the 1960 presidential race, the nation’s second Catholic Democratic presidential nominee, John F. Kennedy, was saved by the Catholic urban vote in the rich electoral states of the Northeast and Midwest. In these regions, he carried over 80 percent of the Catholic vote.

 

As Michael Barone has argued, Kennedy “split the nation along religious lines, which is to say cultural lines, not along lines of economic class.” Put another way, Kennedy’s election was not a victory for liberalism. It was a victory for Catholicism.

 

But the Democratic Party also started to emerge as the home for ambitious social engineering. Its cultural elitism and contempt for blue-collar Catholic workers and their values engendered a new generation who approached those voters with an attitude of “noblesse oblige,” of moral self-righteousness, sometimes of outright arrogance.

 

As a result, in the late 1960s there was a shift in the Catholic vote. Catholics turned to Republicans who were socially conservative, supportive of the New Deal programs, but critical of the Great Society. They became known as Nixon and Reagan Democrats. And since 1972, every White House winner has carried a majority of the Catholic vote.

 

Bill Clinton’s 1992 campaign focused on Catholics, particularly Hispanics and Catholics living in areas hard hit by the recession. This selective strategy worked. Clinton won with a plurality of only 43 percent of the vote by carrying heavily Catholic states in the Northeast and Midwest.

 

Almost 3 million Catholic voters deserted Bush in 1992 – mostly nonpracticing “cafeteria” Catholics. Clinton in 1996 and Al Gore in 2000 carried cafeteria Catholics by wide margins; practicing Catholics voted for Republicans.

 

In 2004, President George W. Bush’s camp was willing to concede the cafeteria Catholics, but not practicing or Hispanic Catholics. To appeal to thesegroups, Bush reversed pro-abortion executive orders, proposed faith-based initiatives and limits on stem-cell research. He also signed into law a ban on partial-birth abortion.

 

As a result, Bush carried an outright majority of Catholics over Sen. John Kerry, a baptized Catholic.

 

In 2004, practicing Catholics were the decisive factor in several swing states. In Ohio, for instance, 65 percent of them voted for Bush, and in Florida the president’s support from practicing Catholics reached 66 percent. Working-class Catholics, many of whom were of Eastern European origins, stuck with the president because they agreed with him on cultural and moral issues. These issues were more important to them then their economic woes.

 

Even in Kerry’s home state of Massachusetts, one of America’s bluest states, there was a significant shift in the Catholic vote. In 2000, Catholics for Bush totaled 32 percent of the state’s electorate; in 2004 his total was 49 percent. In raw numbers this increase represented 166,000 additional Catholic votes for Bush in Massachusetts (622,000 versus 456,000 in 2000).

 

In the election of 2004, Catholics were part of a growing voting population who considered the moral and cultural issues the most important factor in their choice: 22 percent of the voting population in 2004. The power of this block explains in part the increased support for George Bush as well as the overwhelming opposition to same-sex marriages in eleven state referenda.

 

In 2008, Hillary Clinton’s strategy to paint Obama as an out-of-touch elitist who could not relate to the concerns of blue-collar Catholics paid off. In the Rust Belt states, she carried these voters by huge majorities – 70 percent in Pennsylvania.

 

In the 2008 general election, however, Barack Obama, despite being the most extreme pro-abortion presidential candidate in American history, managed to carry 55 percent of the generic Catholic vote. Pro-life Republican Senator McCain received 45 percent of the generic Catholic vote, 52 percent of church attendees, and 32 percent of the Hispanic vote.

 

In the rust belt states of Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Indiana, many practicing Catholics simply stayed home. The state of the economy angered many who did not support Obama, but remained unmoved by McCain. These GOP losses, among Catholics, were self-inflicted. The McCain campaign failed to paint a vivid and appealing social and economic vision for America.

 

Two years later, in the 2010 mid-term elections, Catholics changed direction: 53 percent voted Republican. They provided the votes needed to defeat one Congressional Democratic incumbent in Indiana, and four each in Ohio and Pennsylvania. Flipping these closely-contested seats was the sine qua non of the GOP master plan to retake the House, and Catholics provided the margins of victory.

 

Twenty pro-abortion Catholics did not return to the House in January 2011, including three members of the infamous Stupak Five who caved in on Obamacare: Stupak (D-Michigan), who retired, and Steve Driehaus (D-Ohio) and Kathy Dahlkemper (D-Pennsylvania), who were defeated by pro-lifers.

 

In the 2008 election, Barack Obama received the highest percentage of votes cast for a Democrat (52.9%) since Lyndon Johnson‘s (61.1%) victory over Barry Goldwater in 1964.

 

Recent polls, however, indicate that many of his vote totals, particularly in the nation’s heartland and several southern states, were an aberration – as they were in 1964. A study commissioned by the Pew Research Center and released on August 23, concluded that many white middle class and blue-collar voters, particularly Catholic ones, are trending back toward the GOP. My analysis of the toss up states with large Catholic voting populations confirms these trends.

 

Pew Center Poll

 

Party Identification with Leaners Among Registered Voters

 

 

 

2004

 

2008

 

2012

 

 

 

R

 

D

 

I

 

R

 

D

 

I

 

R

 

D

 

I

 

Total Catholic

 

42

 

50

 

8

 

37

 

53

 

9

 

44

 

47

 

9

 

White Catholic

 

47

 

45

 

8

 

41

 

49

 

9

 

50

 

41

 

8

 

Hispanic Catholic

 

31

 

61

 

9

 

25

 

66

 

9

 

28

 

63

 

9

 

 

 

Political analysts agree the fall presidential race will be determined primarily by the economically-depressed rust belt states of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, and Wisconsin, where aging Catholics are disproportionately represented. Their numbers are higher than in other states because their children and grandchildren – many of whom are non-practicing “cafeteria” Catholics – have moved to more economically prosperous regions.

 

Most of these working class Catholics subscribe to traditional Judeo-Christian principles, live them in their daily lives and expect the same of public officials. Their beliefs mean more than material gain and transcend economic issues.

 

And in a close election, these Catholic voters, who cast their ballots according to cultural standards still matter. It is they who will determine which man will be sworn in as president on January 20, 2013 – just as they have in every election since 1972.

 

 

 

Generic Catholic Vote 1972 – 2004

 

1972 Nixon 52%

 

1976 Carter 57%

 

1980 Reagan 47%*

 

1984 Reagan 61%

 

1988 Bush 51%

 

1992 Clinton 44%*

 

1996 Clinton 54%

 

2000 Bush 51%

 

2004 Gore 52%

 

2008 Obama 55%

 

*Plurality Victory

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Wisconsin Catholic Vote

wisconsin-vote-county
For over a century, the largest bloc of Wisconsin voters has been Catholics. Today they are about 33 percent of the electorate. Lutherans come in second at 30 percent.

At the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth centuries, Catholic immigrants flooded the nation – some 9 million in all. The Catholic Church became the largest American faith group.

 

There were, however, marked differences in this “new” population. Unlike pre-Civil War immigration, which was primarily Irish, many in the new wave were eastern and southern Europeans. Political upheaval prompted hundreds of thousands to come to America as the land of hope.

 

Within the Austro-Hungarian monarchy, racial animosities and jealousies caused a large exodus from Poland and the Balkans. The unification of Italy and the battle over the papal states drove peasants from their homeland. In newly unified Germany, Bismarck’s anti-Catholic Kulturkampf drove the faithful to “seek a newer world.”

 

Between 1850 and 1870, 1 million German Catholics emigrated to the United States, primarily to rural communities in Wisconsin, Ohio, Minnesota, and Pennsylvania. During the next twenty years, another 1 million arrived – about a quarter of the total immigrant population.

 

Poles also came in large numbers. Over 2 million settled in the mid-west before World War I. In Milwaukee, for instance, the Polish population was 65,000 in 1905, 100,000 by 1920 – almost a quarter of the city’s population.

 

Wisconsin Catholics became the largest single voting bloc, jumping from 20 percent in 1870 to 35 percent in 1890 – which has held to this day.

 

In the Gilded Age, Wisconsin Catholics trended Democratic in presidential elections. They were suspicious of Republicans who supported both the Blaine Amendment, which would have prohibited aid to Catholic schools, and Prohibition. (Wisconsin was and is a serious beer-drinking state.)

 

Wisconsin’s Catholics abandoned the Democrats in 1872 because presidential candidate Horace Greeley was blatantly anti-Catholic. Greeley once proclaimed: “He who votes in our election as an Irishman or German has no moral right to vote at all.”

 

In 1896, Democrat William Jennings Bryan’s Populist platform was too much for Wisconsin Catholics and they backed Republican William McKinley. For the next twenty years, they voted for Republican or Progressive candidates. In 1912’s three-way race, Democrat Woodrow Wilson squeaked by with 41.1 percent. Progressive Teddy Roosevelt received 15.6 percent and Republican incumbent William Taft 32.7 percent.

 

The state moved back into the Republican column in 1916 because its Eastern European Catholics disliked Wilson’s foreign policy and his Anglo-centrism. In 1920, a large majority of Wisconsin Catholics, angry over Wilson’s Treaty of Versailles and the Volstead Act, which provided federal enforcement of Prohibition, voted for Republican Warren Harding.

 

Wisconsin’s Catholics returned to the Democratic fold when one of their own, Alfred E. Smith, ran in 1928. Although he lost the state, he got 44.3 percent of the vote because Catholics came out in droves. Smith’s was the best showing for a Democrat since Grover Cleveland in 1892.

 

Wisconsin Catholics went with Franklin Roosevelt, stuck with Harry Truman in 1948 because of his strong anti-Communist credentials, and deserted elitist Adlai Stevenson for Dwight Eisenhower in 1952 and 1956.

 

From 1916 to 1946, two leading members of the nation’s Progressive Movement, Robert La Follette, Sr. and Jr., controlled a Wisconsin senate seat. This political dynasty ended, however, when Catholics turned away from progressivism to one of their own, anti-Communist Joe McCarthy, who won the November election with 61 percent of the vote.

 

At the 1960 National Democratic Convention, Wisconsin delegates provided John F. Kennedy with his margin of victory. In the fall, although Wisconsin Catholics gave Kennedy 80 percent of their votes, it was not enough to put him over the top. Nixon squeaked by with 51.8 percent statewide.

 

Catholics supported Lyndon Johnson in ’64, Humphrey in ’68, but swung to Nixon in ’72 and Reagan in the Eighties. Since 1988, Democrats have carried the state in every election – albeit by slim majorities or pluralities.

 

George W. Bush lost Wisconsin in 2000 by 11,384 votes and by 5,708 votes in 2004. The Catholic vote in those elections broke 47 percent Bush, 50 percent Gore, and 48 percent Bush, 52 percent Kerry.

 

Given deep dissatisfaction Bush’s performance and lack of enthusiasm for John McCain, Obama carried Wisconsin in 2008 with the biggest Democratic majority (56.2 percent) since Lyndon Johnson’s (62.1 percent). Obama won twenty-five of the top Catholic counties (Kerry took only thirteen).

 

Since that election Catholics in Wisconsin have moved back to the right. In 2010, they gave a majority of their votes to Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott Walker and overwhelmingly supported him in the recall this year. Walker received a majority in 31 of the top 36 Catholic counties in both the 2010 election and the 2012 recall. Also, in the 2010 Congressional races, two of the districts that encompass the most Catholic counties flipped from Democrat to Republican, giving the GOP a 5 -3 edge in the Congressional lineup.

 

Historically, Catholic voters in Wisconsin have walked a political tightrope. They are isolationists in foreign policy, staunchly anti-Communist, slightly to the right on social and fiscal issues, and slightly to the left on welfare.

 

This mixture may explain why Catholic, pro-life, fiscal conservative Paul Ryan won his congressional district in 2008 with 64 percent of the vote (Obama received 51 percent there). The 1st Congressional District, which re-elected Ryan in 2010 with more than a two-thirds majority, contains Walworth County, Racine, Kenosha, small parts of Waukesha and Milwaukee, all heavily Catholic.

 

In Wisconsin, Mitt Romney’s campaign will have to win over Catholics, a majority of whom in the top Catholic counties are well over forty. Recent trends indicate that shifting a significant number of them into the GOP column should not be a heavy lift.

 

This will be a tight race and so far it’s impossible to predict. But with Paul Ryan on the GOP ticket and older church-going Catholics angry over Obama’s threat to religious liberty and his support of same-sex marriage, Romney could be the first Republican to carry Wisconsin since Reagan did it in 1984.

 

Wisconsin Top Catholic Counties

 

 

County

 

Catholic

 

%

 

Poverty

 

Rate

 

%

 

Median

 

Age

 

Median Household Income (000)

 

Household

 

Income

 

(000)

 

Gore

 

2000

 

Vote

 

Gore

 

2000

 

%

 

Kerry

 

2004

 

Vote

 

Kerry

 

2004

 

%

 

Obama

 

2008

 

Vote

 

Obama

 

2008

 

%

 

Dem. 1 Gov.

 

2010

 

%

 

Dem. 2 Gov.

 

2012

 

%

 

Congressmen

 

2008

 

Congressmen

 

2010

 

Menominee

 

66

 

25

 

28

 

34

 

949

 

77

 

1,412

 

62

 

1,257

 

67

 

62

 

63

 

D

 

R

 

Kewaunee

 

57

 

8

 

40

 

53

 

4,670

 

46

 

5,175

 

46

 

5,902

 

55

 

42

 

35

 

D

 

R

 

Grant

 

56

 

13

 

37

 

43

 

10,691

 

49

 

12,864

 

51

 

14,875

 

61

 

47

 

47

 

D

 

D

 

Manitowoc

 

52

 

9

 

41

 

49

 

17,667

 

45

 

20,652

 

47

 

22,428

 

53

 

44

 

42

 

R

 

R

 

Brown

 

52

 

9

 

37

 

52

 

49,096

 

46

 

54,935

 

45

 

67,269

 

54

 

43

 

40

 

D

 

R

 

Outagamie

 

52

 

7

 

37

 

55

 

32,735

 

43

 

40,169

 

45

 

50,294

 

55

 

45

 

38

 

D

 

R

 

Portage

 

48

 

11

 

35

 

52

 

17,942

 

53

 

21,861

 

56

 

24,817

 

63

 

53

 

51

 

D

 

R

 

Lafayette

 

44

 

9

 

40

 

45

 

3,710

 

51

 

4,402

 

52

 

4,732

 

60

 

47

 

43

 

D

 

D

 

Taylor

 

43

 

12

 

40

 

46

 

3,254

 

36

 

3,829

 

40

 

4,563

 

48

 

35

 

27

 

D

 

D

 

Langlade

 

41

 

13

 

43

 

40

 

4,199

 

43

 

4,751

 

43

 

5,182

 

50

 

38

 

34

 

D

 

R

 

Wood

 

40

 

8

 

41

 

47

 

15,936

 

45

 

18,950

 

47

 

27,710

 

56

 

43

 

41

 

D

 

R

 

Marinette

 

39

 

12

 

43

 

42

 

8,676

 

44

 

10,190

 

46

 

11,195

 

53

 

43

 

38

 

D

 

R

 

Ozaukee

 

39

 

4

 

42

 

74

 

15,030

 

32

 

17,714

 

33

 

20,579

 

39

 

31

 

29

 

R

 

R

 

Green Lake

 

38

 

9

 

43

 

47

 

3,301

 

36

 

3,605

 

35

 

4,000

 

42

 

33

 

30

 

R

 

R

 

Ashland

 

37

 

15

 

38

 

38

 

4,356

 

55

 

5,805

 

63

 

5,818

 

68

 

62

 

61

 

D

 

R

 

Door

 

37

 

9

 

46

 

46

 

6,560

 

43

 

8,367

 

48

 

10,142

 

58

 

49

 

43

 

D

 

R

 

Marathon

 

37

 

8

 

39

 

52

 

26,546

 

45

 

30,899

 

47

 

36,367

 

53

 

39

 

35

 

D

 

R

 

Washington

 

37

 

5

 

39

 

63

 

15,492

 

29

 

21,234

 

29

 

25,719

 

35

 

24

 

24

 

R

 

R

 

Waukesha

 

37

 

4

 

41

 

71

 

63,319

 

32

 

73,626

 

32

 

85,339

 

37

 

28

 

27

 

R

 

R

 

Fond du Lac

 

36

 

8

 

39

 

51

 

18,181

 

39

 

19,126

 

36

 

23,463

 

45

 

35

 

35

 

R

 

R

 

Oneida

 

36

 

10

 

45

 

45

 

8,339

 

44

 

10,464

 

47

 

11,907

 

54

 

43

 

41

 

D

 

R

 

Racine

 

35

 

10

 

38

 

54

 

41,563

 

47

 

48,229

 

47

 

53,408

 

53

 

43

 

47

 

R

 

R

 

Calumet

 

34

 

5

 

36

 

63

 

8,202

 

41

 

10,290

 

41

 

12,295

 

50

 

39

 

33

 

R

 

R

 

Crawford

 

34

 

12

 

41

 

42

 

4,005

 

54

 

10,290

 

55

 

4,987

 

63

 

52

 

48

 

D

 

D

 

Pepin

 

34

 

10

 

41

 

46

 

1,854

 

51

 

2,181

 

54

 

2,102

 

56

 

46

 

39

 

D

 

D

 

Iowa

 

33

 

8

 

39

 

54

 

5,842

 

55

 

7,122

 

57

 

7,987

 

67

 

55

 

53

 

D

 

D

 

Clark

 

32

 

14

 

37

 

38

 

5,931

 

42

 

6,966

 

46

 

7,454

 

53

 

38

 

31

 

D

 

D

 

Sauk

 

32

 

8

 

39

 

51

 

13,035

 

51

 

15,708

 

52

 

18,617

 

61

 

48

 

48

 

D

 

D

 

 

 

County

 

Catholic

 

%

 

Poverty

 

Rate

 

%

 

 

 

 

 

Median

 

Age

 

Median

 

Household

 

Income

 

(000)

 

Gore

 

2000

 

Vote

 

Gore

 

2000

 

%

 

Kerry

 

2004

 

Vote

 

Kerry

 

2004

 

%

 

Obama

 

2008

 

Vote

 

Obama

 

2008

 

%

 

Dem. 1 Gov.

 

2010

 

%

 

Dem. 2 Gov.

 

2012

 

%

 

Congressmen

 

2008

 

Congressmen

 

2010

 

Trempealeau

 

32

 

10

 

40

 

45

 

6,678

 

54

 

8,075

 

57

 

8,321

 

63

 

49

 

42

 

D

 

D

 

Price

 

31

 

12

 

45

 

42

 

3,413

 

43

 

4,349

 

50

 

4,559

 

56

 

46

 

39

 

D

 

D

 

Vilas

 

31

 

12

 

47

 

40

 

4,706

 

38

 

4,706

 

41

 

6,491

 

47

 

35

 

36

 

D

 

R

 

Chippewa

 

30

 

11

 

39

 

46

 

12,102

 

46

 

14,751

 

48

 

16,239

 

54

 

42

 

41

 

D

 

R

 

Kenosha

 

30

 

10

 

37

 

55

 

32,429

 

51

 

40,107

 

52

 

45,836

 

58

 

48

 

50

 

R

 

R

 

Oconto

 

30

 

11

 

41

 

50

 

7,260

 

44

 

8,534

 

43

 

9,927

 

52

 

40

 

34

 

D

 

R

 

St. Croix

 

30

 

5

 

36

 

67

 

13,077

 

44

 

18,784

 

45

 

21,177

 

47

 

37

 

37

 

D

 

D

 

LaCrosse

 

30

 

12

 

36

 

46

 

28,455

 

51

 

33,170

 

53

 

38,524

 

61

 

49

 

52

 

D

 

D

 

Jefferson

 

29

 

8

 

37

 

52

 

15,203

 

42

 

17,925

 

43

 

21,448

 

50

 

38

 

39

 

D&R

 

D&R

 

Dane

 

28

 

16

 

36

 

59

 

142,317

 

61

 

181,052

 

66

 

205,984

 

73

 

69

 

69

 

D

 

D

 

Iron

 

28

 

14

 

48

 

36

 

1,620

 

46

 

1,956

 

50

 

1,914

 

56

 

46

 

44

 

D

 

R

 

Milwaukee

 

28

 

17

 

36

 

43

 

252,329

 

58

 

297,653

 

62

 

319,819

 

67

 

62

 

63

 

D

 

R

 

Walworth

 

28

 

10

 

37

 

54

 

15,429

 

38

 

19,177

 

40

 

24,177

 

48

 

34

 

35

 

D&R

 

D&R

 

Winnebago

 

28

 

8

 

37

 

51

 

33,983

 

45

 

40,943

 

46

 

48,107

 

55

 

44

 

43

 

R

 

R

 

 

 

1 The Democratic candidate for governor, Tom Barrett, lost to Republican Scott Walker, 52.2% v. 46.5%

 

2 The Democratic candidate for governor, Tom Barrett, lost to incumbent governor, Scott Walker, in the recall election 46% v. 53%.

 

 

 

WISCONSIN FACT SHEET

 

 

 

Total Population (2010)

 

5,686,986

 

Total Catholic Voting Population (%)

 

33%

 

Electoral Votes

 

10

 

Wisconsin Median Household Income

 

$51,257

 

U.S.A. Median Household Income

 

$51,914

 

Wisconsin Poverty (%)

 

11.4%

 

Wisconsin Median Age

 

38.1 years

 

U.S.A. Median Age

 

36.9 years

 

Total Votes Cast for U.S. Representatives as a Percentage

 

2006

 

Republican

 

50.4%

 

Democrat

 

49.6%

 

2008

 

Republican

 

49.9%

 

Democrat

 

50.1%

 

2010

 

Republican

 

54.5%

 

Democrat

 

45.5%

 

Presidential Vote

 

2000

 

Gore

 

1,242,987

 

47.8%

 

Bush

 

1,237,279

 

47.6%

 

Plurality for Gore

 

5,708

 

2004

 

Kerry

 

1,489,504

 

49.8%

 

Bush

 

1,478,120

 

49.7%

 

Plurality for Kerry

 

11,384

 

2008

 

Obama

 

1,677,211

 

56.2%

 

McCain

 

1,262,393

 

42.9%

 

Plurality for Obama

 

414,818

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Ohio Catholic Vote

ohio-vote-county

 

Ohio is the quintessential mid-western swing state, known for its Main Street values of small government, hard work, thrift and devotion to God and family. Ohio gave the nation eight presidents; five of them between 1868 and 1920. In the 39 presidential elections between 1856 and 2008, Ohio went Republican 28 times, Democratic 11. No Republican has ever been elected president without carrying Ohio. And this year the Obama and Romney camps know that Buckeye State voters, 28 percent of whom are Catholic, will determine who is sworn in as president on January 20, 2013.

 

As of Sunday, September 9, the polls seem tightly deadlocked. The most recent, a survey of registered votes, gives Romney a three-point edge; the latest poll of likely voters, taken several days earlier, gives Obama the exact same margin. The president won Ohio in 2008. About 5 percent of the Catholic vote must move back into the Republican fold if Romney is to be the victor in Ohio. One regional poll has indicated that this shift may be happening. Romney leads Obama 58-35 percent in Southwestern Ohio, which includes Cincinnati, a heavily Catholic city that the president carried four years ago.

 

A little history may help us to understand the dynamics of the Catholic vote in the state.

 

Throughout the nineteenth century there was a large influx of Catholics into Ohio. Germans, many of whom escaped Bismarck’s anti-Catholic Kulturkampf, settled for the most part in farming areas, particularly the counties of Putnam, Logan, Auglaize, Shelby, and Mercer in western Ohio. Some Germans, and most of the Irish, moved into industrial regions, Hamilton County (Cincinnati) in the southwest and northern counties along Lake Erie – Lucas (Toledo), Ottawa, Erie, Lorain, Cuyahoga (Cleveland) Lake, Geauga, and Trumball (Youngstown). By 1890, 25 percent of Ohio’s electorate was Catholic and today that number is 26 percent.

 

In the post-Civil War era, there was a strong whiff of anti-Catholicism in Ohio’s Republican circles. Ulysses S. Grant, who sent tens of thousands of Catholics into battle, supported the Blaine Amendment that prohibited parochial schools from getting state aid. He also called on Congress to pass legislation that would permit the government to tax church property. Grant believed such legislation would prevent tyranny, “whether directed by the demagogue or by priest craft.”

 

Ohio Governor Rutherford B. Hayes, who was elected president in 1876, accused Democrats of colluding with Catholics to destroy the Ohio public school system. Congressman James Garfield of Ohio, who became the twentieth president in 1880, complained: “It is evident that the Catholic Church is moving along with the whole line of its front against modern civilization and our fight in Ohio is only a small portion of the battlefield.”

 

Republican Governor William McKinley of Ohio, however, had a different view of Catholics. As a major in the Civil War, he fought along side many Catholics and befriended them. In 1876, he defended thirty-three Clark County coal miners (most of whom were Catholic) for rioting during a strike. As a candidate for president in 1896, he was denounced by the nation’s leading anti-Catholic organization, the American Protective Association, for appointing Catholics to Ohio’s state government. They even accused his executive secretary of being a Jesuit.

 

In his race against Democrat-Populist Williams Jennings Bryan, McKinley managed to carry industrial voters handily – both management and labor. And the most significant contribution to his victory was the movement of large segments of the Catholic voting population toward the GOP. It is estimated that 40 percent to 45 percent of the Catholic vote was cast for McKinley, which explains why he carried America’s ten largest cities.

 

This shift was most evident in McKinley’s home state of Ohio, where every heavily Catholic county voted for him. Ohio Catholics subsequently trended Republican or Progressive in the presidential elections between 1900 and 1924. German and Irish Catholics disliked the Bryan-dominated Democratic Party’s anti-urban/anti-immigrant rhetoric. As for Woodrow Wilson, they frowned upon his interventionist foreign policy and the Versailles Treaty he negotiated. In 1920, Ohio Catholics voted for their favorite son Warren Harding, who repudiated Wilson’s League of Nation’s and called for a “return to normalcy.”

 

Most Catholics did return overwhelmingly to the Democratic fold in 1926 to vote for Alfred E. Smith, the first Catholic ever to run for president. Smith lost Ohio, receiving only 34.5 percent of the vote, but there were record-breaking turnouts in many of the Catholic quarters.

 

During the Great Depression Ohio Catholics went for Franklin Roosevelt in 1932 and 1936. By 1940, there was slippage, particularly in the southern part of the state. Many isolationist German Catholics were disenchanted with FDR’s interventionist policies and in 1945 were infuriated with the perceived results of the Yalta conference.

 

Hamilton County, which includes the City of Cincinnati in the state’s south-west corner, broke narrowly for Wendell Willkie in 1940, for Thomas Dewey in 1944 and 1948, and went solidly for Eisenhower in 1952 and 1956. In contrast, Cuyahoga County, located in the northeast corner, supported Roosevelt all four times and Truman in 1948. By slim majorities, Eisenhower carried Cuyahoga County in 1952 and 1956.

 

As early as 1956, Senator John F. Kennedy made the case that if the Democratic Party was to hold on to the Catholic vote, it was time to place a Catholic on the national ticket. The famous Bailey memo, commissioned by Kennedy and distributed to party power brokers, argued that while the Catholic vote represented about 25 percent of the total pool of voters, 80 percent of them were located in the pivotal states of the North and Midwest. The electoral votes in these key states totaled 261, which was 5 short of the number needed to win.

 

In 1960, candidate Kennedy employed this strategy and his campaign was particularly focused on Ohio’s 25 electoral votes. Kennedy campaigned vigorously in the heavily Catholic cities of Cleveland, Cincinnati, Toledo, and Youngstown. His goal was to get back 6 percent of the total Catholic votes in these urban areas that went with Ike in 1956. The odds of achieving this goal were good because Catholics who voted for Ike in 1956 swung back to vote for the victorious Democratic U.S. Senate candidate, who was Catholic. Also, in 1958, a Catholic Democrat was elected governor of Ohio.

 

On election night 1960, the Kennedy team, pollsters and the press – who were all convinced JFK would carry the state – were proven wrong. Despite large Catholic turnouts in Ohio’s major cities, Nixon scored what presidential historian Theodore H. White called “the greatest upset of the election.” Nixon carried Ohio with 53.3 percent because Protestants, who dominate the southern and central parts of the state, also came out in full force because they disliked the thought of a Catholic residing in the White House.

 

Since that election, Catholics in Ohio, who like other rust-belt states are an aging population, have been attracted to the Republican Party. Suburban Catholics, who are mostly third-generation Irish and Italian, are solidly Republican. German and Polish Catholics are very conservative, but not wedded to the Republican Party. They are Ohio’s swing voters.

 

Ohio Catholics supported Nixon in 1970, broke narrowly for Carter in 1976, then voted for Reagan and Bush in the 1980s. Clinton carried Ohio in 1992 with only 40.2 percent of the total vote because Independent candidate Ross Perot, who received 21 percent statewide, siphoned off 25 percent of the Catholic vote.

 

While Clinton carried 56 percent of the generic Catholic vote nationally in 1996, he received only 39 percent of white practicing Catholics. Likewise, in Ohio, Clinton only received a plurality of the Catholic vote which is about 92 percent white. A majority of Ohio Catholics split their votes between Republican Bob Dole and Independent Ross Perot.

 

In the twenty-first century, Ohio has been a key swing state in the nation – and Catholics have made the difference. George W. Bush carried Ohio with 50 percent of the vote in 2000 and a plurality of 166,000 out of a total vote of 4.7 million. He received 50 percent of the generic Catholic vote versus 47 percent for Gore.

 

Four years later, Bush beat John Kerry, a nominal Catholic, 50.8 to 48.7 percent. His plurality was 118,000 votes. Ohio Catholics saved the state for Bush; they broke 55-44 in his favor .

 

When the Great Recession hit in 2007, Ohio’s economy was seriously hurt. In November 2008 unemployment was 7.2 percent, the highest in sixteen years. Out of a total of 5,698,260 votes cast, Obama narrowly won with 2,933,388 (51.5 percent); McCain’s vote total was 2,674,491 (46.9 percent). Ninety thousand votes were cast for other candidates. The generic Catholic vote did, however, break for McCain (52 percent versus 47 percent for Obama). White Catholic voters cast 53 percent of their votes for McCain.

 

Despite losing the overall Catholic vote, Obama did much better than Kerry in the top Catholic counties. In 2004, Kerry carried 5 out of 15 and in 2008 Obama received a majority in six. His vote total in these counties topped Kerry by 6 percent. Obama even carried the very Republican and Catholic Hamilton County, the turf of Republican U.S. House Speaker John Boehner, with 53 percent. The last Democrat to carry Hamilton County was Lyndon Johnson in 1964.

 

How does one explain Obama losing the Catholic vote statewide and still doing well in Catholic counties? Many Catholics and Republicans who didn’t like McCain and couldn’t bring themselves to vote for Obama stayed home on Election Day. While Ohio’s voter registration was up, the turnout in the top Catholic counties was basically flat versus 2004. Even in the Democratic stronghold, Cuyahoga, total vote was actually down 8,000 votes; 665,352 in 2008 versus 673,777 in 2004.

 

In 2010 the pendulum swung back to the GOP with former Congressman John Kasich beating incumbent Democratic governor Ted Strickland. Kasich carried 10 of the 15 top Catholic counties and he put Hamilton County back into the GOP column. The Congressional vote in 2010 was even more interesting. In 2010, total votes cast for Republican House candidates was 53.7 percent, versus 48.8 percent in 2008. Eight of the top fifteen Catholic counties were represented by Republicans in 2008; in 2010 that number increased to ten.

 

In 2012, Ohio is once again the key swing state in the national election. If Ohio’s older socially-conservative practicing Catholics, particularly those who stayed home in 2008, are convinced Romney is with them, they can put him over the top this November. But with recent polls placing Obama and Romney in a dead heat, expect an intense fight to the finish.

 

Republican

Democrat

Independent

1960

36.9%

62.8%

-

1964

25.3%

74.5%

-

1968

30.4%

55.2%

14.4%

1972

62.7%

34.9%

-

1976

51.2%

46.9%

-

1980

51.9%

40.4%

7.7%

1984

66.2%

33.3%

-

1988

60.3%

38.8%

-

Ohio Top Catholic Counties

 

County

 

Catholic

 

%

 

 

 

Poverty

 

Rate

 

%

 

 

 

 

 

Median

 

Age

 

Median

 

Household

 

Income

 

(000)

 

Gore

 

2000

 

Vote

 

Gore

 

2000

 

%

 

Kerry

 

2004

 

Vote

 

Kerry

 

2004

 

%

 

Obama

 

2008

 

Vote

 

Obama

 

2008

 

%

 

Gov.1

 

Dem.

 

2010

 

%

 

Congressmen

 

2008

 

Congressmen

 

2010

 

Putnam

 

63

 

9

 

37

 

55

 

4,063

 

23

 

4,392

 

23

 

5,281

 

33

 

34

 

R

 

R

 

Mercer

 

61

 

12

 

37

 

51

 

5,212

 

28

 

5,118

 

24

 

5,853

 

27

 

27

 

R

 

R

 

Logan

 

56

 

17

 

38

 

49

 

5,945

 

32

 

6,825

 

32

 

7,936

 

36

 

30

 

D

 

D

 

Mahoning

 

39

 

17

 

42

 

41

 

69,212

 

61

 

83,194

 

63

 

79,173

 

62

 

66

 

D

 

R

 

Seneca

 

38

 

15

 

38

 

45

 

9,512

 

39

 

10,957

 

41

 

13,087

 

48

 

41

 

R

 

R

 

Lake

 

36

 

10

 

41

 

57

 

46,497

 

31

 

50,049

 

49

 

60,155

 

49

 

43

 

R

 

R

 

Cuyahoga

 

35

 

18

 

40

 

46

 

357,351

 

62

 

448,503

 

67

 

458,422

 

69

 

60

 

D

 

D

 

Erie

 

28

 

15

 

43

 

49

 

17,732

 

41

 

21,421

 

53

 

23,148

 

56

 

49

 

D

 

D

 

Geauga

 

28

 

8

 

41

 

68

 

15,327

 

24

 

19,850

 

39

 

21,250

 

41

 

35

 

R

 

R

 

Shelby

 

28

 

12

 

37

 

53

 

6,593

 

33

 

6,535

 

29

 

7,316

 

31

 

30

 

R

 

R

 

Hamilton

 

27

 

18

 

39

 

50

 

161,758

 

35

 

199,679

 

47

 

225,213

 

53

 

44

 

D

 

R

 

Lorain

 

26

 

14

 

38

 

53

 

59,809

 

53

 

78,970

 

56

 

85,276

 

58

 

51

 

D

 

D

 

Auglaize

 

26

 

9

 

35

 

52

 

5,564

 

21

 

5,903

 

26

 

6,738

 

29

 

29

 

R

 

R

 

Lucas

 

25

 

20

 

37

 

44

 

108,344

 

58

 

132,715

 

60

 

142,852

 

65

 

61

 

D

 

D

 

Huron

 

25

 

14

 

37

 

47

 

8,183

 

29

 

10,568

 

41

 

12,076

 

47

 

39

 

R

 

R

 

1 The Democratic incumbent governor, Ted Strickland, lost to Republican John Kasich 47% v. 49%

 

OHIO FACT SHEET

 

 

 

Total Population (2010)

 

11,536,504

 

Total Catholic Voting Population (%)

 

26%

 

Electoral Votes

 

18

 

Ohio Median Household Income

 

$46,838

 

U.S.A. Median Household Income

 

$51,914

 

Ohio Poverty (%)

 

14.0%

 

Ohio Median Age

 

38.2 years

 

U.S.A. Median Age

 

36.9 years

 

Total Votes Cast for U.S. Representatives as a Percentage

 

2006

 

Republican

 

47.4%

 

Democrat

 

52.6%

 

2008

 

Republican

 

48.8%

 

Democrat

 

51.2%

 

2010

 

Republican

 

53.7%

 

Democrat

 

46.3%

 

Presidential Vote

 

2000

 

Bush

 

2,350,363

 

50.0%

 

Gore

 

2,183,628

 

46.4%

 

Plurality for Bush

 

166,735

 

2004

 

Bush

 

2,859,764

 

51.1%

 

Kerry

 

2,741,165

 

48.7%

 

Plurality for Bush

 

118,599

 

2008

 

Obama

 

2,940,044

 

51.5%

 

McCain

 

2,677,820

 

46.9%

 

Plurality for Obama

 

262,224

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Florida Catholic Vote

florida-vote-county

 

In recent decades, Florida has been one of the fastest growing states in the nation thanks to the influx of Catholic seniors and Hispanics. In 1960 its population was 4.9 million. It’s now 18.8 million. Florida’s electoral vote count has increased from 10 to 29. Since 2000, Florida has experienced a 15 percent increase in its population making it the nations fourth most populous.

 

This year most analysts agree that Florida and Ohio are the two key swing states that will decide the presidential election. And it will be Catholics who choose which candidate will be awarded their Electoral College votes.

 

As of September 14, the race in Florida appears to be very tight with Obama enjoying a slight lead. A Wall Street Journal/Marist Poll survey, taken September 9 through 11, indicates Obama is ahead with likely voters 49-44 percent. When it comes to the economy, however, Floridians favor Romney 47-46. As for voter enthusiasm, 68 percent of Romney’s backers are excited about getting out to vote compared to 58 percent of Obama supporters.

 

Likely Hispanic voters – a key demographic in Florida – break 57 percent Obama, 35 percent Romney, 7 percent undecided. Romney leads with white voters, 56-39, and with seniors 50-45 percent.

 

 

 

The Historical Perspective

 

Since the end of the post-Civil War “reconstruction” period in 1877, until 1948, Florida was solidly Democratic with that party’s presidential candidates generally receiving north of 65 percent of the total votes cast. The lone exception was 1928 when Republican Herbert Hoover carried the state with 57 percent. Protestants deserted their party to vote against Roman Catholic Alfred E. Smith.

 

There is only one explanation for the 1928 results: anti-Catholicism. This was particularly evident in the panhandle part of the state, where the Catholic Church has little or no presence to this day.

 

Florida was solidly Democratic during the age of Roosevelt. The state even stuck with Truman in a three-way race that included Dixiecrat candidate Strom Thurmond.

 

By 1950, however, Florida’s population mix began to rapidly change due to the invention of air conditioning. Northern migrants, particularly Catholic and Jewish seniors, disrupted the old political landscape. Florida was becoming “a giant suburbia” where, according to analyst Neil Pierce, “the people [had] little awareness of past politics and few local ties.” Those who referred to the Civil War as “the war between the states” were no longer a majority.

 

As a result of this population shift, the Republican Party became competitive growing from 60,000 registrants in 1950 to 711,000 in 1970. Today Democrats still have an edge, but a narrow one – 4.6 million vs. 4 million Republicans.

 

Florida went for Eisenhower over Stevenson in 1952 and 1956 and gave an unexpected and narrow victory to Nixon in 1960. He beat Kennedy 51.5/ 48.5 percent. (Some voters, no doubt, still harbored anti-Catholic sentiments.)

 

While Florida has tilted heavily Republican in local and state legislative races, both parties remain competitive on a statewide basis. Nixon carried Florida in 1972; in 1976 it swung Democratic for one of its own, Jimmy Carter. And it’s gone back and forth ever since.

 

Florida Presidential Breakdown

 

1980 – 2010

 

 

 

 

 

Republican

 

Democrat

 

Other

 

1980

 

56%

 

39%

 

5%

 

1984

 

65%

 

35%

 

--

 

1988

 

61%

 

39%

 

--

 

1992

 

41%

 

39%

 

20%

 

1996

 

42%

 

48%

 

9%

 

2000

 

49%

 

49%

 

2%

 

2004

 

52%

 

47%

 

--

 

2008

 

48%

 

51%

 

--

 

 

 

During this period (1980-2010), Democrats won three governor races, Republicans five. In the eleven U.S. Senate races, Democrats were victorious six times, Republicans five.

 

 

 

Recent Trends

 

In the 2000 Florida Presidential race, the generic Catholic vote broke 52 percent for Bush, 44 percent for Gore. With Bush carrying the state by only 537 votes, there is no question that Catholics contributed to his victory. In 2004, the Catholic vote broke heavily for Bush, 57-42 over Kerry. (Practicing Catholics gave the President 66 percent of their votes.) Once again, Catholics made the difference for Bush who carried the state overall with 52 percent. Catholics were also a factor in 2010, when Obama narrowly carried Florida. They swung slightly more to the Democratic column: 50 percent for Obama and 49 percent for McCain.

 

In Florida’s northern panhandle counties, the Catholic presence is negligible -- about 4 percent. In many counties it is less than 1 percent. The Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee, which encompasses eighteen panhandle counties, contains only 62,000 Catholics out of a total population of 1.4 million. It is pretty much the same in the Diocese of St. Augustine which covers seventeen counties in northern Florida and is home of 2 million people. Only 171,000 are Catholic.

 

The vast majority of Catholics live in southern Florida’s five dioceses and are predominantly Hispanics and older whites.

 

Most of the white retirees live in Sarasota, Broward, Palm Beach, Martin, Flagler, and St. Lucie counties. Like all seniors, older Catholics are attracted to Florida for more than the warm weather. Residential real estate is relatively cheap and property taxes are low. Florida does not have a state income tax and there are no inheritance or estate taxes.

 

A majority of Florida Catholic seniors have voted Republican in recent elections as have most other senior groups. In 2008 voters over 65 cast 53 percent of there votes for McCain, 45 percent for Obama. The vote was similar in 2004: 52-44 for Bush over Kerry. Seniors are the largest bloc of voters in Florida, about 30 percent. Voters over fifty overall account for 50 percent of registered voters.

 

The top Catholic counties not trending Republican in recent elections have been Broward, Palm Beach, and Miami-Dade. That’s because the large Jewish population in Broward and Palm Beach, and the Hispanic bloc in Miami-Dade, have voted solidly Democratic. This voting dynamic in Broward and Palm Beach may change this year because many senior and Orthodox Jewish voters are angry over Obama’s shabby treatment of Israel.

 

The Hispanic Factor

 

Since the federal government repealed hemispheric quotas in 1978, extended family reunification laws, and granted illegal immigrant amnesties in 1986 and 1995, Hispanics in the United States, who are 70 percent Roman Catholic, have been our fastest growing ethnic group. In Florida, they now comprise 22.8 percent of the population.

 

Surveys show that most Hispanics oppose abortion and attend church more often than the general population. Political analyst Michael Barone maintains that “Latino immigrants and their descendants are arguably the most family-oriented group in a society where an increasing number of people do not live in two-spouse families.” A Gallop Poll revealed 64 percent of Hispanics believe that couples should marry if they intend to live together. Fifty-eight percent said that unwed parents should be legally wed; 45 percent of whites hold that view.

 

Perhaps even more surprising, a Republican National Committee survey discovered 60 percent of Hispanics held that government should promote “personal responsibility” instead of “bureaucratic paternalism.” Also, 80 percent viewed welfare as a temporary safety net, not a permanent way of life.

 

Sixteen percent of Florida eligible voters are Hispanic, 1.8 million people. Cubans represent 32 percent of that voting pool, Puerto Ricans are 28 percent, and Mexicans 9 percent. The composition of Florida’s Hispanic voting population is significantly different from the national profile, which is 59 percent Mexican, 14 percent Puerto Rican, and 5 percent Cuban.

 

This breakdown explains why 31 percent of Florida’s Hispanics are registered Republicans, 38 percent Democrats, and 29 percent Independents. Cubans, most of whom live in southern Florida, have been loyal to the GOP because of the Party’s historically strong anti-Communist and anti-Castro policies. They are also socially conservative.

 

Most Puerto Ricans have settled in central Florida. Over 50 percent live between Orlando and Tampa. Puerto Ricans that emigrated from New York are overwhelmingly Democratic. Those from the Puerto Rican Commonwealth are swing voters.

 

While Hispanics nationwide cast 41 percent of their votes nationally for President George Bush in 2004, in Florida he received an astounding 56 percent. Florida’s Catholic Hispanics favored Obama in 2008, 56-43 over McCain. However, the Hispanic vote for McCain was still higher than the 31 percent he received nationally. That’s because Cubans stuck with McCain and cast 53 percent of their votes for him.

 

In the 2010 mid-term elections, Florida swung back to the Republican column. Rick Scott narrowly beat Democrat Alex Sink in the governor’s race 49-48. In a three-way race, the GOP’s Marco Rubio, who is a Catholic of Cuban descent, was elected to the U.S. Senate with 49 percent of the vote. Independent Charlie Christ received 30 percent, Democrat Kendrick Meek 20 percent.

 

Rubio received 55 percent of the Hispanic vote. Cuban Catholics cast 78 percent of their votes for one of their own. Republicans also received 58 percent of the total votes cast for U.S. House of Representatives and picked up Congressional seats. Each of the top Catholic counties has at least one Republican Congressman.

 

This November, it is likely a majority of Florida’s White Catholic seniors will cast their votes for Romney. That will not be enough, however, for him to carry the state. If he is to succeed, he must win over about 6 percent of the Hispanics who cast their votes for Obama four years ago. This means the GOP must persuade Cubans to turn out to the polls as they did for Rubio in 2010. And it means appealing to a majority of Puerto Rican swing voters.

 

With the September Wall Street Journal poll indicating Romney enjoying the support of only 35 percent of Florida’s Hispanic voters, the GOP has some heavy lifting to do in the remaining weeks of the campaign.

 

For the Romney-Ryan ticket to win in Florida it must energize the Church-going pro-life/pro-family White and Hispanic Catholics who are appalled by Obama’s threat’s to religious liberty and traditional marriage and frustrated with Obama’s failed economic policies. If Romney-Ryan succeed at the task in Florida, it is likely they will be taking the inaugural oaths on January 20, 2013.

 

Florida Top Catholic Counties

 

County

 

Catholic

 

%

 

Poverty

 

Rate

 

%

 

 

 

 

 

Median

 

Age

 

Median

 

Household

 

Income

 

(000)

 

Gore

 

2000

 

Vote

 

Gore

 

2000

 

%

 

Kerry

 

2004

 

Vote

 

Kerry

 

2004

 

%

 

Obama

 

2008

 

Vote

 

Obama

 

2008

 

%

 

Congressmen

 

2008

 

Congressmen

 

2010

 

 

 

 

 

Hispanic

 

%

 

Martin

 

28

 

18

 

39

 

45

 

26,620

 

43

 

30,208

 

42

 

44,143

 

43

 

D&R

 

D&R

 

11

 

Hernando

 

27

 

13

 

45

 

43

 

32,644

 

50

 

37,187

 

46

 

41,886

 

48

 

R

 

R

 

10

 

Indian River

 

27

 

14

 

45

 

48

 

19,768

 

40

 

23,956

 

39

 

29,710

 

42

 

R

 

R

 

23

 

Palm Beach

 

27

 

14

 

44

 

56

 

269,732

 

62

 

328,687

 

60

 

361,271

 

61

 

D&D&D

 

D&D&R

 

18

 

Miami Dade

 

24

 

18

 

39

 

45

 

328,808

 

53

 

409,732

 

53

 

499,831

 

58

 

R&D

 

R&D

 

63

 

St. Lucie

 

24

 

16

 

39

 

47

 

41,559

 

53

 

51,835

 

52

 

67,125

 

56

 

R&D

 

R&D

 

17

 

Broward

 

21

 

13

 

40

 

54

 

387,703

 

67

 

453,873

 

64

 

492,640

 

67

 

D

 

D

 

25

 

Flagler

 

21

 

11

 

43

 

47

 

13,897

 

51

 

18,578

 

48

 

24,726

 

50

 

R

 

R

 

9

 

Sarasota

 

20

 

13

 

51

 

52

 

72,853

 

45

 

88,442

 

41

 

102,686

 

48

 

R

 

R

 

8

 

 

 

FLORIDA FACT SHEET

 

 

 

Total Population (2010)

 

18,801,310

 

Total Catholic Voting Population (%)

 

28%

 

Electoral Votes

 

29

 

Florida Median Household Income

 

$47,051

 

U.S.A. Median Household Income

 

$51,914

 

Florida Poverty (%)

 

13.6%

 

Florida Median Age

 

39.9 years

 

U.S.A. Median Age

 

36.9 years

 

Total Votes Cast for U.S. Representatives as a Percentage

 

2006

 

Republican

 

56.7%

 

Democrat

 

43.3%

 

2008

 

Republican

 

51.1%

 

Democrat

 

48.9%

 

2010

 

Republican

 

58.7%

 

Democrat

 

41.3%

 

Presidential Vote

 

2000

 

Bush

 

2,912,790

 

48.8%

 

Gore

 

2,912,253

 

48.8%

 

Plurality for Bush

 

537

 

2004

 

Bush

 

3,964,522

 

52.1%

 

Kerry

 

2,583,544

 

47.1%

 

Plurality for Bush

 

380,978

 

2008

 

Obama

 

4,282,074

 

51.0%

 

McCain

 

4,045,624

 

48.2%

 

Plurality for Obama

 

236,450

 


The Michigan Catholic Vote

michigan-vote-county
In the first decade of this century, Michigan lost 850,000 jobs, household income declined by 20 percent, and at the height of the Great Recession unemployment hit 14 percent, the highest of any state in the nation. Since the recovery began three years ago, Michigan has lost almost 5 percent of its work force and unemployment which was 9 percent in July, shot up to 9.4 percent in August vs. the nation’s 8.1 percent.
Detroit was particularly hard hit. Its population, which stood at 1.8 million in 1950, is now approximately 713,000. Detroit lost 60 percent of its auto jobs between 2000 and 2009. As a result, the tax base has collapsed, services have been drastically cut, tens of thousands of homes and buildings have been abandoned, and the city is on the verge of receivership.
These economic woes and the perception of a majority of the public, particularly Catholics, that the Obama administration has pushed too far to the left on social issues, resulted in a voter backlash in the 2010 election. On the Congressional level, total votes cast favored Republicans with 52.3 percent. The GOP picked up two Congressional seats for a total of nine out of fifteen, and all but one of the top twenty Catholic populated counties are now represented by a Republican House member. Also the Republican candidate for governor, businessman Rick Snyder, won in a landslide receiving 58 percent of the vote. He carried all of the top Catholic counties, averaging over 60 percent of the total. In the bellwether Macomb County, 61.3 percent cast their votes for Snyder.
The dramatic Republican gains in 2010 have put Michigan in play in 2012. Despite Obama’s boast that he saved the automobile industry with his dubious bailout, native son Mitt Romney can carry the state, and the group that can put Michigan’s sixteen electoral votes in the GOP column – Catholics.
The Historical Perspective
During the first three decades of the twentieth century, Michigan was reliably Republican in presidential elections. The sole exception was in 1912 when Bull Moose presidential candidate Theodore Roosevelt carried Michigan over Democrat Woodrow Wilson and incumbent GOP President, William Howard Taft with a 38.9 percent plurality.
In 1932, the tide turned. Franklin Roosevelt was the first Democrat to carry the state since Franklin Pierce in 1852. F.D.R. won it again in 1936 but lost the state in 1940 by 7,000 votes to Wendell Willkie. He beat Thomas Dewey in 1944 by 22,000 votes.
Republicans presidential standard bearers carried Michigan in the next three elections. But this winning streak ended in 1960 when John F. Kennedy narrowly carried the state over Richard Nixon thanks to the overwhelming support of blue-collar Catholic voters.
Michigan returned to the Republican fold in 1972 when Nixon easily beat George McGovern. Four years later voters awarded Michigan’s electoral votes to a native son who represented Grand Rapids in the House of Representatives for twenty-seven years, Gerald Ford.
Michigan’s voting habits have been greatly impacted by blue-collar Catholic voters whoemigrated to the Wolverine State to secure employment in the automobile industry.
After the passage of the National Labor Relations Act of 1936, which required employees to bargain with bona fide unions, the United Auto Workers (UAW) was formed and, by 1941, after various sit-in strikes was recognized by all the major manufacturers. Led by Walter Reuther, a committed Socialist, the UAW negotiated contracts that were extraordinarily favorable for its membership. By the early 1970s, the average weekly pay for UAW members was 33 percent greater than the national average.
The UAW’s membership, which was dominated by Polish, Irish, and Italian Catholics, were loyal supporters of the Democratic Party for decades. However, in the late 1960s, a cultural revolt was brewing among a significant portion of Michigan’s blue-collar Catholic workers. These ethnic Catholics were bewildered and disgusted with the National Democratic Party whose elitist leaders frowned on their values. As a result, Catholic ethnics started moving out of the Democratic Party and into the more socially conservative Republican fold.
In 1980, the soft-spoken former Democrat and union leader, Ronald Reagan, invited Catholics to follow his lead into the GOP. Portraying himself as the antithesis of cultural liberalism, Reagan stressed the themes of work, family, neighborhood, peace, and freedom. Reagan also struck a chord with Catholics when he spoke fondly of New Deal programs and harshly about the Great Society social experiments.
On Election Day 1980, tens of thousands of Michigan Catholics heeded Reagan’s call and voted for him. He carried the state 49-42 over Carter, thanks to the overwhelming support of Irish, Italians, Poles, and Slovaks.
One Michigan area that was a microcosm of the 1980 Catholic defections was Macomb County. This heavily Catholic, blue-collar Detroit suburb of 700,000 people deserted their party in droves and became “Reagan Democrats.”
According to National Demographics and Lifestyles, a corporation that analyzes trends in metropolitan areas, Macomb County is one of America’s most typical middle-class populations: “Football is big there, wine tasting is not. The ‘in’ leisure sport is bowling, not tennis. They shop at Kmart, not Neiman Marcus. Breakfast is bacon and eggs, not croissants and champagne.”

Macomb County, Michigan
Vote for President
1960-1988


 

Republican

Democrat

Independent

1960

36.9%

62.8%

-

1964

25.3%

74.5%

-

1968

30.4%

55.2%

14.4%

1972

62.7%

34.9%

-

1976

51.2%

46.9%

-

1980

51.9%

40.4%

7.7%

1984

66.2%

33.3%

-

1988

60.3%

38.8%

-


The hard-core union, blue-collar Democrats of Macomb County turned their backs on their party because they were disillusioned over cultural issues: busing, drugs, crime and abortion.
Michigan returned to the Democratic fold in 1992 when Bill Clinton carried the state with a plurality of 43.8 percent. The incumbent president, George H.W. Bush, who received 53.6 percent of Michigan’s vote in 1988, lost because one-quarter of the Catholics statewide cast their vote for Independent candidate Ross Perot. In bellwether Macomb County, Bush received 42.3 percent of the vote, Clinton 37.4 percent, and Perot 19.5 percent.
In his race against Dole in 1996, Clinton, who positioned himself as a centrist, captured 51.7 percent of Michigan’s vote. Democrats have gone on to carry the state in each subsequent election, and with the exception of Barack Obama, by slim margins. In 2000, Gore received 51 percent, four years later Kerry had the same margin, and in 2008 Obama won 57 percent. In Macomb County, the results were tighter: Gore 50, Kerry 49, and Obama 53 percent. On a statewide basis, the Catholic vote broke: Gore 48, Kerry 50, Obama 51 percent.
Recent Trends
Michigan’s economy has been in serious decline in recent decades. In the automobile industry, costly union contracts and management’s failure to implement corporate strategies to fend off foreign competition has resulted in poor sales and major downsizing.
Like most Rust Belt states, Michigan’s Catholics are predominately blue-collar, 98 percent white and aging. They have waved goodbye to their children and grandchildren, who have moved to more prosperous states to find employment. The remaining Catholics, many of whom are churchgoers, tend to vote along cultural lines – even in tough economic times.
In 2004, Democrat John Kerry received a majority of the vote in only three of the top twenty Catholic counties. Obama exceeded 50 percent in nine of those counties, but only matched or exceeded his statewide 57 percent total in three of them.
Obama’s 823,000 vote Michigan plurality in 2010 was an aberration. No Democrat has scored such a victory since Lyndon Johnson in 1964. More recent Democratic presidential pluralities have been 165,000 in 2004 and 217,000 in 2000.
Considering the 2010 Republican trends, Michigan can once again be within the grasp of the GOP. At the moment, however, Michigan opinion surveys show Obama with a significant lead. The Detroit News poll, released on September 19, has Obama leading Romney 52% to 38%. CNN has Obama over Romney 52-44.
Despite these figures, political strategist Karl Rove told a Lansing, Michigan audience in mid-September that the state “is going to be in play.” Also, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette predicted last week that the state will be a close horse race and that Romney will win. Schuette said he expects, “the poll numbers to even out and that the election remains a jobs and paychecks election in a state where the unemployment rate has climbed back to 9.4 percent.”
To overtake Obama, Romney must energize Michigan’s Reagan Democrats. He must appeal to Catholics on social issues, particularly on religious liberty. Polls have been showing that white church-going Catholics support Romney’s social philosophy 53 percent vs. Obama’s 37 percent.
To help eliminate the normal 200,000 Democratic voter edge in presidential voting years, the Romney campaign must focus on turning out church-going Catholics. If voting patterns return to the 2000 and 2004 norms, a shift of 80,000 Catholic voters could turn Michigan into a red state in 2012.

MICHIGAN FACT SHEET

Total Population (2010)

 

 

9,883,640

Total Catholic Voting Population (%)

 

 

29%

Electoral Votes

 

 

16

 

 

 

 

Michigan Median Household Income

 

 

$47,461

U.S.A. Median Household Income

 

 

$51,914

 

 

 

 

Michigan Poverty (%)

 

 

15.1%

 

 

 

 

Michigan Median Age

 

 

38.1 years

U.S.A. Median Age

 

 

36.9 years

 

 

 

 

Total Votes Cast for U.S. Representatives as a Percentage

 

 

 

 

2006

Republican

 

47.3%

 

Democrat

 

52.7%

 

 

 

 

2008

Republican

 

47.7%

 

Democrat

 

52.3%

 

 

 

 

2010

Republican

 

52.3%

 

Democrat

 

47.7%

 

 

 

 

Presidential Vote

 

 

 

 

2000

Gore

2,170,418

51.3%

 

Bush

1,953,139

46.1%

 

Plurality for Gore

217,279

 

 

 

 

 

2004

Kerry

2,479,183

51.7%

 

Bush

2,313,746

48.3%

 

Plurality for Kerry

165,437

 

 

 

 

 

2008

Obama

2,872,579

57.4%

 

McCain

2,048,639

41.6%

 

Plurality for Obama

823,940

 

 

 

 

Michigan Top Catholic Counties

 

 

County

Catholic

%

 

Poverty

Rate

%

 

 

Median

Age

Median

Household

Income

(000)

Gore

2000

Vote

Gore

2000

%

Kerry

2004

Vote

Kerry

2004

%

Obama

2008

Vote

Obama

2008

%

Gov.1

Race

2010

Dem. %

Congressmen

2008

Congressmen

2010

Delta

53

13

44

42

7,970

46

9,381

49

9,974

52

40

D

R

Dickinson

53

12

45

41

5,533

43

5,650

42

5,995

45

35

D

R

Menominee

44

13

44

40

4,597

44

5,326

47

5,981

54

39

D

R

Alpena

44

16

44

38

7,053

50

7,407

49

7,705

51

40

D

R

Huron

41

15

45

40

6,899

43

7,629

44

8,367

48

28

R

R

Presque

38

14

48

36

3,242

46

3,982

46

3,722

50

34

R

R

Bay

36

13

41

44

28,251

55

31,049

54

32,589

57

39

D

R

Iron

36

17

48

35

3,014

49

3,215

49

3,080

50

42

D

R

Alger

32

14

43

42

2,071

35

2,395

50

2,472

40/53

41

D

R

Gogebic

32

22

43

32

4,066

49

4,421

52

4,757

58

49

D

R

Ostego

31

12

40

47

4,034

38

4,674

38

5,634

45

27

D

R

Macomb

31

11

39

56

172,625

50

196,160

49

223,784

53

37

R&D

R&D

Marquette

30

14

39

44

15,503

53

17,412

54

19,635

59

47

D

R

Baraga

28

16

40

39

1,400

41

1,660

45

1,725

47

37

D

R

Houghton

27

21

33

34

5,688

40

6,731

42

7,476

47

37

D

R

Monroe

27

11

39

56

31,555

51

36,089

49

39,180

51

37

D

D

Manistee

26

14

43

40

5,401

49

6,272

49

7,235

56

37

R

R

Clinton

25

8

38

57

13,394

42

15,483

41

20,005

50

33

R

R

Oakland

25

10

40

69

281,201

49

319,387

50

372,566

56

38

D&R

D&R

St. Clair

25

14

39

49

33,002

48

36,174

45

40,677

50

31

R

R


1 The Democratic candidate for governor, Virg Berno, lost to Republican Rick Snyder, 39.9% v. 59.3%.


 

The Indiana Catholic Vote

indiana-vote-county  

At the end of September 2012, Indiana public opinion surveys indicated that Mitt Romney maintains a comfortable but narrowing margin over Barack Obama. With polls showing Obama’s lead widening among Catholics nationally and in the key battleground states of Ohio, Florida, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, however, the Romney campaign cannot afford to take this voting bloc for granted because it happens to agree with the GOP on various social issues.

 

The Historical Perspective

 

In the thirty-nine presidential elections since 1856, Republicans carried the state thirty-one, the Democrats eight times. However, the GOP’s statewide margins of victory in the nineteenth century and early twentieth century were very narrow. That was because the voting population between 1856 and 1916 was split between settlers from the North Atlantic states and Ohio who trended Republican, and Democratic ones from the south called “Butternuts.”

 

While Indiana cast its electoral votes for Republicans, twelve out of sixteen times between 1856 and 1916, their average statewide vote was only 47 percent. Eight times during this period, the GOP squeaked by with pluralities and twice with exactly 50 percent. They had absolute majorities only four times. Since the end of the First World War, Indiana has continued to be reliably Republican. The exceptions: Franklin Roosevelt in 1932 and 1936; Lyndon Johnson, 1964; and Barack Obama, 2008.

 

German, Irish, Polish, and Italian Catholics settled in Indiana in large numbers in the post-Civil War era. They concentrated in the manufacturing regions located along the northern and southern borders. To this day, manufacturing is still an important part of the state’s economy. Political analyst Michael Barone, has pointed out that, “Indiana has the nation’s highest percentage of workers in manufacturing – 19 percent in 2010 – and the highest percentage of gross product attributable to manufacturing of any state. It is the No. 2 steel producer in the country, with giant, heavily automated steel mills on the south shore of Lake Michigan and mini-mills scattered across the state.”

 

In the post World War II era, the top Catholic/manufacturing counties stayed loyal to the Republican Party. Even in 1960, while there was a shift towards Kennedy, it was not as significant an embrace of a fellow Catholic as it was in Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania Catholic population centers.

 

While Kennedy did much better with Catholics than Stevenson, it was not enough to put Indiana’s electoral votes in the Democratic column. Nixon beat JFK 55 to 45 percent. Four years earlier, Eisenhower had swamped Stevenson 60-39.

 

Since that time, the top Catholic blue-collar counties have generally aligned with the GOP. The reason: third- and fourth-generation Catholic ethnics are socially conservative.

 

German Ancestry 2010

 
Jasper, Dubois County 54%
Valparaiso, Porter County 33%
Laporte, LaPorte County 30%
Granger, St. Joseph County 29%
Mishawaka, St. Joseph County 27%
South Bend, St. Joseph County 18%
 

Irish Ancestry 2010

 
Jasper, Dubois County 23%
Charleston, Porter County 19%
Dyer, Lake County 18%
Granger, St. Joseph County 17%
Valparaiso, Porter County 17%
Hobart, Lake County 16%
 

Italian Ancestry 2010

 
St. John, Lake County 12%
Dyer, Lake County 10%
Munster, Lake County 10%
Hobart, Lake County  6%
Granger, St. Joseph County  6%
Valparaiso, Porter County  6%
 

Polish Ancestry 2010

 
Trail Creek, LaPorte County 25%
St. John, Lake County 23%
Dyer, Lake County 21%
Munster, Lake County 19%
Gulivoire Park, St. Joseph County 18%
Michigan City, LaPorte County 11%
South Bend, St. Joseph County 11%
 

A top Catholic county that has been Democratic by large margins is Lake County. This is due to a significant demographic change in the population. Lake County’s African-American population has grown to 26 percent. The county’s major city, Gary, is 85 percent African-American.

 

Recent Trends

Statewide, Indiana Catholics voted 51 percent Gore, 46 percent Bush in 2000; 56 percent Bush, 43 percent Kerry in 2004; and split evenly between Obama and McCain in 2008. In the top fourteen counties, Bush carried ten in 2000 and eleven in 2004.

 

Experienced political analysts were shocked in 2008 that Indiana’s electoral votes wound up in the Democratic column for the first time since Johnson’s victory in 1964. During the primary season, Obama made numerous appearances in Indiana and came close to beating Hillary Clinton, receiving 49 percent of the vote.

 

During this period, the Obama campaign detected that one of the “reddest” states in the nation was in play. In the general election, the Obama Campaign spent a ton of money on media advertising and community organizing that registered over 200,000 voters.

 

On election night 2008, Obama carried Indiana with 49.9 percent of the vote versus McCain’s 48.9 percent. The margin of victory was only 28,391 votes. It was a remarkable feat, considering that four years earlier Democrat John Kerry lost the state by 510,000 votes. And what made it more amazing is that he managed to carry a state in which exit polls were indicating that 42 percent of the electorate called themselves “conservatives.”

 

Eleven of Indiana’s ninety-two counties flipped from Republican to Democratic. And three of them were top Catholic counties. In 2008, Obama carried six of the top Catholic counties versus Kerry’s three in 2004. Obama also made significant inroads in all of the remaining Catholic enclaves. For instance, voters in Dubois County, which is 58 percent Catholic, cast 47 percent of their votes for Obama. This was up 17 percent over Kerry’s 2004 total.

 

In 2010, Republicans came back home and reelected GOP U.S. Senator Dan Coates with 55 percent of the vote. The Democratic challenger, Brad Ellsworth, carried only two of the top Catholic counties versus Obama’s six. Ellsworth’s totals in the other Catholic Counties dropped significantly compared to Obama’s in 2008. They were more in line with Kerry’s 2004 totals.

 

Total votes cast for the U.S. House of Representatives also bounced back. Republicans received 55.7 percent of that vote versus 48.1 percent in 2008 and 49.9 percent in 2006. In the 111th Congress Democrats represented eleven of the top fourteen Catholic counties; in the 112th Congress the number was five.

 

Indiana Catholics shifted to the right side of the political spectrum in 2010. If that trend holds in 2012 and Catholics are motivated to turn out on election day, Romney should easily carry Indiana in November.

   

Indiana Top Catholic Counties

 

County

Catholic

%

Poverty

Rate

%

 

 

Median

Age

Median

Household

Income

(000)

Gore

2000

Vote

Gore

2000

%

Kerry

2004

Vote

Kerry

2004

%

Obama

2008

Vote

Obama

2008

%

U.S. 1 Senate

Dem.

2010

Congressmen

2008

Congressmen

2010

Dubois

58

7

39

54

5,090

33

5,210

30

8,748

47

45

D

R

Benton

35

10

40

47

1,328

34

1,135

28

1,563

41

29

D

D

Ripley

35

10

38

51

3,498

33

3,510

30

4,187

35

28

D

R

Perry

33

12

39

44

3,823

52

4,131

50

5,141

61

58

D

R

Lake

26

17

38

40

109,078

62

114,743

61

139,301

66

58

D

D

Franklin

25

10

38

52

2,591

31

2,925

29

3,404

32

27

R

R

Martin

25

13

41

45

1,518

33

1,522

30

1,706

35

41

D

R

St. Joseph

24

15

36

46

47,703

49

52,637

48

68,710

58

47

D

D

La Porte

23

13

39

46

19,736

50

21,114

50

28,258

60

47

D

D

Spencer

22

9

41

53

3,752

42

3,920

40

5,039

50

47

D

R

Decatur

22

12

37

46

2,889

31

2,621

26

3,892

37

30

R

R

Floyd

21

11

39

54

13,209

44

13,857

41

16,263

45

40

D

R

Porter

21

9

38

62

26,709

45

29,388

45

39,178

53

42

D

D

Posey

21

10

41

57

4,430

40

4,085

34

5,828

46

45

D

R

 

1 The Democratic U.S. Senate candidate, Brad Ellsworth, lost to incumbent Republican Dan Coats, 40% v. 55%.

 

INDIANA FACT SHEET

 

 

 

Total Population (2010)

 

 

6,483,802

Total Catholic Voting Population (%)

 

 

22%

Electoral Votes

 

 

11

Indiana Median Household Income

 

 

$47,448

U.S.A. Median Household Income

 

 

$51,914

Indiana Poverty (%)

 

 

13.4%

Indiana Median Age

 

 

36.6 years

U.S.A. Median Age

 

 

36.9 years

 

 

 

 

Total Votes Cast for U.S. Representatives as a Percentage

 

 

 

 

2006

Republican

 

49.9%

 

Democrat

 

50.1%

2008

Republican

 

48.1%

 

Democrat

 

51.9%

2010

Republican

 

55.7%

 

Democrat

 

44.3%

 

 

 

 

Presidential Vote

 

 

 

 

2000

Bush

1,245,836

56.6%

 

Gore

901,980

41.01%

 

Plurality for Bush

343,856

 

2004

Bush

1,479,438

60.4%

 

Kerry

969,011

39.3%

 

Plurality for Bush

510,247

 

2008

Obama

1,374,039

48.9%

 

McCain

1,345,648

49.9%

 

Plurality for Obama

28,391

 

   

The Pennsylvania Catholic Vote

pennsylvania-vote-county

Pennsylvania, where Catholics are 35 percent of the voting population, has long been a bona fide swing state in presidential elections. During the past century, Republicans carried the state fifteen times, Democrats twelve, and in 1912, Teddy Roosevelt won running as the candidate of the Progressive (or “Bull Moose”) Party.

 

Pennsylvania is difficult to call because of its diverse voting population. Most analysts agree that there are three voting demographics, each with a different world view:

 

The very liberal cities of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh and their surrounding suburban counties Central Pennsylvania’s rural NRA country whose populace is leery of the Democratic Party’s promise of government largesse The economically depressed western portion of the state whose citizens are older, socially conservative, and Catholic.

 

Polls that have had Obama leading by about eight points in the Keystone State are now more fluid due to Romney’s strong performance in the first debate. Since that faceoff, Romney’s twenty-four campaign offices have picked up hundreds of new volunteers who are reaching out to disgruntled Democrats, particularly church-going Catholics, who did not pull the level for the unopposed Obama in this year’s Pennsylvania primary.

 

The Pittsburg Post-Gazette has reported that the “undervote” on primary day for Obama “ranged widely from single digits in Philadelphia, Delaware, and Chester counties to the mid-40s in north central and southwestern Pennsylvania. In 37 counties his undervote was above 25 percent, and in 16 of those, it topped 35 percent.” If these ex-Obama supporters are persuaded to go to the polls on November 6 to vote for Romney, the state could flip into the red column.

 

In the 2004 election, George Bush lost the state with 48 percent but his share was up 2 percent over his 2000 showing. Most of Bush’s additional support came from Democrats. Nationally, 11 percent of Democrats voted for Bush in 2004 but in Pennsylvania the total was 15 percent.

 

Many Pennsylvanians in the election of 2004 were part of a growing voting population who considered moral and cultural issues the most important factor in their decision. Of the 18 percent of Pennsylvanians who were moral-values voters, 80 percent voted for Bush.

 

Here’s proof that cultural issues took precedence over monetary ones for many Pennsylvanians: John Kerry carried three of the four richest counties – Montgomery, Bucks, and Delaware. Bush squeaked by in one of them, Chester County.

 

Although Kerry narrowly carried the Pennsylvania generic Catholic vote, it was affluent and younger “cafeteria” Catholics who voted for Kerry; poorer, older, practicing Catholics in the economically depressed areas went for Bush.

 

Kerry carried the wealthiest Catholic counties: Bucks, Northampton, and Delaware. Bush carried the poorest counties and the top two Catholic ones – Cambria and Elk.

 

These Pennsylvania election results can only be explained in cultural terms. Pro-life, pro-gun, blue-collar Democrats living in poorer regions voted for Bush while pro-abortion, white-collar Republicans from affluent areas supported Sen. Kerry. Economics and class warfare had nothing to do with what these Pennsylvanians did in the voting booth.

 

To win the support of Keystone voters in 2008, Sen. Hillary Clinton downed beer and chasers; Sen. Barack Obama tried his hand at bowling; Sen. John McCain reminded the state’s large senior and military population that he was one of them; Gov. Sarah Palin flashed her NRA membership card and her husband’s union card; and longtime Washington insider, Sen. Joe Biden, promoted himself as a simple Scranton street corner kid.

 

In 2008, Obama carried the Keystone State with 3,060,455 votes (55 percent) versus John McCain’s 2,469,775 (45 percent) votes for a total of 5,530,230. Four years earlier, John Kerry received 2,938,095 votes (51 percent) to Bush’s 2,793,847 (48 percent) for a total of 5,731,942.

 

After all the fanfare about registration drives and record-breaking combined spending of the Obama and McCain camps ($5 million plus), total Pennsylvania votes cast were down 200,000, 3.61 percent versus 2004.

 

In Philadelphia, where the Obama people, ACORN, and the unions boasted about their get-out-the-vote juggernaut, there was a decline over the 2004 turnout in predominantly Democratic Catholic “South Philly.” These Catholic ethnics simply stayed home, unattracted to either candidate

 

The Democrats did, however, continue to make inroads in the Philadelphia region’s suburban counties. Obama carried seven of the ten most affluent counties by significant margins, versus only four for Kerry in 2004. Interestingly, this is the one subset of counties where turnout was above the 2004 levels. The old Main Line counties in particular have gotten bluer, which indicates they vote their liberal cultural values.

 

Although his margins of victory were down, McCain, like Bush, carried nine of the ten least affluent counties, which means these poor voters also vote along cultural lines. The difference was that in this sub-set of counties voter turnout declined. Many voters probably chose to stay home because they were disenchanted with the Republican Party, angry at Bush, or unhappy with McCain.

 

As for the Catholic vote, nationally Obama received 52 percent of the generic Catholics who went to the polls – a seven-point increase over baptized Catholic John Kerry’s total. But McCain received 55 percent of the votes of practicing Catholics.

 

Catholic Pennsylvanians went against the national trend with 52 percent casting their vote for McCain, a 2 percent improvement over Bush. However, in the ten counties with the largest Catholic populations, voter turnout declined in eight of them – an additional sign of dissatisfaction with the GOP.

 

In November 2010, Republicans took control of the Pennsylvania governor’s mansion, gained one U.S. Senate seat, five Congressional seats, and majorities in both houses of the state legislature. This is a state that has also consistently elected pro-lifers: Democrat governor Robert Casey, Republican senators Rick Santorum and Pat Toomey, Democrat senator Robert Casey, Jr., and incumbent Republican governor, Tom Corbett.

 

If Pennsylvania’s practicing Catholics, who are angry over Obama’s shabby treatment of their Church and his support of same-sex marriage, turn out to the polls as they did in 2010, they could put the state in the GOP presidential column for the first time in twenty-eight years.

 

Pennsylvania Top Catholic Counties

 

County

Catholic

%

 

Poverty

Rate

%

 

 

Median

Age

Median

Household

Income

(000)

Gore

2000

Vote

Gore

2000

%

Kerry

2004

Vote

Kerry

2004

%

Obama

2008

Vote

Obama

2008

%

Dem.

U.S. Senate

2010

%

Congressmen

2008

Congressmen

2010

Elk

65

10

43

43

5,754

42

6,602

45

7,290

51

45

R

R

Cambria

55

14

43

35

30,308

50

32,591

51

32,451

49

49

D

D

Allegheny

50

12

42

44

329,963

57

368,912

57

373,153

57

55

D

D

Lackawanna

50

13

42

40

59,471

60

59,573

56

67,520

63

60

D

R

Delaware

49

10

39

58

134,861

54

162,601

57

178,870

60

56

D

R

Bucks

44

5

41

70

132,914

50

163,438

51

179,031

54

47

D

R

Luzerne

42

12

43

40

62,199

52

69,575

51

72,492

54

51

D

R

Schuylkill

42

12

43

38

26,215

45

29,331

45

28,,300

45

41

D

D

Erie

37

14

38

41

59,399

53

67,921

54

75,775

59

55

D

R

Northampton

36

8

40

53

53,097

51

63,446

50

75,255

55

48

R

R

Westmoreland

36

10

49

44

71,792

46

77,774

43

72,721

41

39

R

R

Lawrence

35

14

42

40

20,593

52

21,387

49

19,711

47

44

D

D

Montgomery

35

5

40

72

177,990

53

222,048

56

253,393

60

54

D

D

Washington

35

10

42

45

44,961

53

48,225

50

46,122

47

45

R

R

Carbon

34

11

42

42

10,668

50

12,223

51

13,464

50

45

D

D

Wayne

33

11

43

40

6,904

36

8,060

37

9,892

43

34

D

R

Chester

32

6

39

77

82,047

44

109,708

47

137,833

54

47

R

R

Philadelphia

32

24

35

36

449,182

80

542,205

80

595,980

83

84

D

D

Beaver

30

10

43

43

38,925

53

42,146

51

11,138

48

47

D

D

Butler

30

9

40

50

25,037

35

30,090

35

32,260

36

32

D

R

 

PENNSYLVANIA FACT SHEET

    

Total Population (2010)

12,702,739

Total Catholic Voting Population (%)

35%

Electoral Votes

20

Pennsylvania Median Household Income

$50,028

U.S.A. Median Household Income

$51,714

Pennsylvania Poverty (%)

12.1%

Pennsylvania Median Age

39.7 years

U.S.A. Median Age

36.9 years

Total Votes Cast for U.S. Representatives as a Percentage

2006

Republican

44.5%

Democrat

55.5%

2008

Republican

44.6%

Democrat

55.4%

2010

Republican

51.4%

Democrat

48.6%

Presidential Vote

2000

Gore

2,485,967

51%

Bush

2,281,127

46%

Plurality for Gore

204,840

2004

Kerry

2,938,095

51%

Bush

2,793,847

48%

Plurality for Kerry

144,248

2008

Obama

3,276,363

54%

McCain

2,655,885

46%

Plurality for Obama

620,478

 

 

George J. Marlin is an editor of The Quotable Fulton Sheen and the author of The American Catholic Voter . His most recent book is Narcissist Nation: Reflections of a Blue-State Conservative.

 

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