Support for President Trump dips among white Catholics

Support for President Trump among white Catholics has dropped almost by half since March, a new poll reveals.

The Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) reported last Thursday that Trump’s support among white Catholics fell from 60 percent in March to 48 percent in April to 37 percent in May.

The new poll was conducted May 26-31 during a week of widespread civil unrest in several major cities, following George Floyd’s death in police custody on May 25. The poll sampled 1,003 U.S. residents aged 18 or over.

The findings reflect other national polls showing a general growing disapproval for Trump in recent weeks. All register broad disapproval for his handling of the aftermath of George Floyd’s death.

Nonetheless, according to PPRI’s findings, support for President Trump is still strong within half of overall respondents in election swing states. His approval in those states has increased to 50 percent from 38 percent in April.

PRRI’s poll numbers among Catholics mark a sharp change from a Pew Research Center poll on Trump’s handling of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, conducted at the beginning of May.

The May Pew report showed while Americans overall characterized Trump’s response to the pandemic as either “fair” or “poor” by a margin of 59 percent to 41 percent, white Catholics approved of his response as “excellent” or “good” by a margin of 55 percent to 45 percent. In that same poll, however, 70 percent of Hispanic Catholics said Trump’s response was “fair” or “poor.”

Earlier this year an EWTN News/RealClearOpinion Research poll showed almost six-in-ten white non-Hispanic Catholics approved of Trump’s presidency.

According to the poll of 1,512 Catholic registered voters conducted from Jan. 28 through Feb. 4, 58 percent of white non-Hispanic Catholics approved of Trump “strongly” or “somewhat,”. Fifty-three percent said they would vote for him in November or there was a “strong chance” they would.

Trump’s approval rating among Catholics overall was at less than half in the EWTN poll. Partly this is because of overwhelmingly negative reviews by71 percent of Hispanic Catholics who disapproved of him. A smaller subset of devout Catholics who said they accepted all the Church’s teachings, showed strong approval of his presidency at a rate of 63 percent to 37 percent.

The Catholic vote has largely mirrored the overall popular vote in recent presidential elections.

The share of Republican Party members who identify as Christian fell slightly, with 79 percent identifying as Christian today compared with 87 percent in 2008.

Overall, the share of U.S. adults who identify as Christian has fallen in recent years. Sixty-five percent said they were Christian in 2018-2019. This compares with 77 percent a decade earlier. At the same time, the number of religiously unaffiliated Americans increased from 17 percent to 26 percent.


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