Catholic voters’ support for Obama surges, says poll

A new poll conducted by the Pew Research Center showed that support among Catholic voters for US President Barack Obama has surged since June despite the Catholic bishops’ religious freedom campaign.

On June 17, Obama held a slight edge over Mitt Romney among Catholics (49-47 percent). Since then, Obama has surged ahead, and now leads 54-39 percent, according to a Pew poll conducted on Sept. 16.

The poll showed that among all registered voters, Obama leads Romney 51-42 percent.

A report by Religion News Service (RNS) said Obama and Romney are essentially tied among white Catholics, which some pollsters call the ultimate swing group.

Romney on Monday unveiled his Catholics for Romney Coalition. The Obama campaign also has a Catholic coalition.

During the last week of June to July 4, US Catholic bishops held what they dubbed as a “Fortnight for Freedom,” with Masses, prayer groups and presentations in dioceses nationwide. The campaign was aimed against an Obama administration mandate that requires some religious institutions to provide cost-free contraception coverage to employees.

The RNS report quoted John C. Green, an expert on religion and politics at the University of Akron in Ohio, as saying that Obama’s surge among Catholic voters does not mean the bishops’ campaign was ineffective.

“It’s not the issue that most middle-of-the-road Catholics are responding to,” Green said. He said religious freedom is not the most salient issue for Catholics during an election dominated by economic concerns.

The margin of error for the September survey of Catholic voters is plus or minus 5.1 percentage points, according to Pew.


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