US Catholic voters split on racial lines over Trump, Clinton

US Catholic voters appear to be split along racial lines in their support for either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump as the next president.

A national survey in June by the Pew Research Center showed white Catholics are almost evenly divided in their backing for the two candidates.

White Catholics gave Trump a narrow edge – 50 per cent to 46 per cent.

But Hispanic Catholics overwhelmingly support Mrs Clinton by a margin of 77 per cent to 16 per cent.

Overall, the survey found that 56 per cent of American Catholics back Mrs Clinton with 39 per cent for Mr Trump.

The margin of error was 7.9 per cent.

“To the extent that we can identify a group of [religiously defined] swing voters, white Catholics are it,” said Greg Smith, associate director of Research for the Pew Research Center.

Catholics represent roughly 20 per cent of the adult population in the US and they’re around two-thirds white.

This makes the white Catholic cohort a significant electoral bloc.

Mr Smith also said that a June 2012 Pew survey found white Catholics backing Republican challenger Mitt Romney over President Barack Obama by just nine points.

But in the end the spread in favour of Romney was 19 points, suggesting many changed their minds later in the race.

The 2016 survey found that weekly Mass-goers are supporting Mrs Clinton by 57 to 38 per cent.

In data not included in the results released on Wednesday, the survey found a racial divide among Catholics on the question of which candidate voters believe would be better able to deal with immigration.

White Catholics say it’s Mr Trump by 52 percent to 41, while Hispanic Catholics answered Mrs Clinton by a margin of 74 percent to 19.

“Given how clearly both Pope Francis and the US bishops have expressed positions on the immigration issue, I found that result interesting,” Mr Smith said.


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