Pew reports Catholics gravitating toward Clinton

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton Speaks at the Old State House in Springfield, Ill., Wednesday, July 13, 2016. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

G.O.P. frontrunner Donald Trump may have (another) Catholic problem on his hands.

A few months after Donald Trump lashed out at Pope Francis over their differing stances on immigration, a new poll finds that most U.S. Catholics support the Republican presumptive nominee’s rival for the White House, Democrat Hillary Clinton, by almost 20 percentage points.


More than half of American Catholics—56 percent—support Clinton, according to a Pew Research Center poll released on July 13, with just 39 percent backing Trump. (Contrast that to this point in the 2012 matchup between President Barack Obama and former Gov. Mitt Romney, when Catholics were more evenly split. Exit polls from 2012 found that, ultimately, 50 percent of Catholics voted for Obama and 48 percent for Romney.)

But when broken down by race, Trump does better, at least among white Catholics. Half say they support Trump, with 46 percent of white Catholics prefering Clinton. Hispanic Catholics, on the other hand, overwhelmingly back Clinton: 77 percent to 16 percent. Interestingly, Clinton also beats Trump when it comes to Catholics who attend Mass each week, with the former secretary of state besting Trump 57 percent to 38 percent.

It’s possible that Trump can trace his shortcomings with Catholic voters to a February dust up with Pope Francis over the issue of immigration.

Just days before the pope celebrated a huge open-air Mass along the U.S.-Mexico border, where Francis prayed for those who died trying to cross illegally into the United States, Trump called the pope “a very political person.” He suggested Mexican politicians were using the pope to advance their own agendas.

“I don’t think he understands the danger of the open border that we have with Mexico. I think Mexico got him to do it because they want to keep the border just the way it is,” Trump said at the time. “They’re making a fortune and we’re losing.”

Though the United States and Mexico do not share an open border—miles of it are fenced off or patrolled by federal agents—Trump has repeatedly promised to build a wall should he be elected.

When asked about Trump’s views on his flight home from Mexico, Francis said that people who advocate building walls instead of bridges are not Christian.

Trump’s campaign interpreted this statement as criticism and called it “disgraceful.” The Vatican later clarified that Francis was not speaking about a specific candidate, which Trump interpreted as an apology.

Closer to home, several U.S. bishops have criticized Trump, often implicitly, for what they see as increasingly hostile language toward immigrants. Catholic bishops have consistently voiced support for comprehensive immigration reform that keeps families together regardless of legal status.

Dylan Corbett, who runs the Hope Border Institute in El Paso, Tex., said he isn’t surprised Hispanics have such an aversion for Trump, and pointed out that the demographic is growing along border states. “Border communities are well versed in the politics of wall-building, xenophobia and the criminalization of migrant families,” he told America. “There is a visceral reaction against the politics of division and hatred, and anyone who would seek the highest office in the land would do well to take note.”

The Pew poll found that Catholics are more or less in line with the rest of the United States when it comes to the issues they consider “very important” as they decide whom to support, with the economy, health care, terrorism and immigration leading the list.

Culture war issues, including abortion, same-sex marriage and the treatment of L.G.B.T. people, rank at the bottom of the list for Catholics, with fewer than half saying they are “very important.”

When it comes to the importance of a president having strong religious beliefs, about 70 percent of Catholics agree that this is a necessary trait, down from 76 percent in 2008. That’s in line with the rest of the country, as is the dip in the number of Catholics who believe houses of worship play an important role in addressing social problems.

In 2008, 79 percent of Catholics believed churches, synagogues and mosques contributed “a great deal” toward solving social problems, whereas just 63 percent of Catholics believe that today.

Just under half of all Catholics want their church “to express views on social/political matters,” and less than a third think their leaders should endorse specific candidates. (The church forbids its ordained leaders from endorsing specific candidates.)

Among people of other faiths, Trump is performing especially well with white evangelical Christians, of whom 78 percent support him, to Clinton’s 17 percent. Black Protestants, however, strongly favor Clinton, 89 percent to 8 percent.

Clinton is also leading among those with no attachment to religion, those labeled the “nones,” 67 percent to 23 percent.

The findings were based on telephone interviews conducted June 15-26, 2016, with 2,245 adults in all 50 states.

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William Rydberg
2 years 6 months ago
One wonders why these so-called American polling experts consistently fail to include one basic question- "Do you and your family agree that weekly Sunday Mass attendance when practicable (i.e. Person might be sick, no local Mass, or otherwise unable to attend) is an essential of your faith? Such a question would undoubtedly yield highly accurate data. Because using the current criteria would undoubtedly pick up Somebody like Mike Pence, because of his background and count him as a cultural Catholic. He seems to describe himself now as a follower of Protestant Evangelicalism? It's highly likely that he did not attend weekly Mass regularly before he seems to have switched to Protestantism, because his background is Catholic... A publication such as America Magazine really ought to push pollsters for the sake of scientific accuracy. It's really an easy fix...
J Scanlon
2 years 6 months ago
Thank you for this thoughtful comment. I wish, too, that some consideration be given to the extent of 'cultural adherence'. Sinse FDR and re-enforced by our first Catholic President's election, a blind adherence to a certain defined social justice paradigm has influenced Catholics much too much. For me, the question of abortion began to break this cultural trap. Later, I listened to the hated capitalist theory of improvement for many, and it is not contra to Catholic social justice.
J Cosgrove
2 years 6 months ago
The only moral way to distribute economic goods is free market capitalism. Any other way distorts the distribution away from certain groups in favor of others. And the distortion is rarely helpful to the poor of the world. Like any human activity there are imperfections in free market capitalism, but much much less than any other form of distribution. It is what has made the world so rich in the last 200 years. Yes, this success comes with some problems. The problems comes when the market stops being free and second and third parties are substantially harmed in favor of one party.
Edward Silha
2 years 5 months ago
Are you suggesting we adopt the economic model of early 19th century England (unfettered capitalism) with work houses for the poor (including children)? I don't believe that was the advice from Jesus. What is your priority, Christian (following Jesus) or Capitalist (following Ayn Rand)?
J Cosgrove
2 years 6 months ago
Maybe Catholics like corrupt inept politicians. After all that was the assessment by the FBI on the email problem of Hillary Clinton. The most interesting thing about the email episode as far as America Magazine is concerned is that there was zero mention of it. Nothing that will essentially harm a Democrat will be emphasized here unless there is a counter weight they can cite. They protect Obama also while publishing devastating articles on Trump. And by the way I would be happy if Trump disappeared but the bias is incredibly obvious. They should just not exist here.
(The church forbids its ordained leaders from endorsing specific candidates.)
Interesting comment given the bias of America Magazine. So should America Magazine give up its tax exempt status because in reality it is a political publisher and not really a religious one. Even its religious article are political. I would not cite polls as evidence of any understanding of truth. They are real in how people think but they are not descriptive of reality. These perceptions are often based on little information or false impressions.
Carlos Orozco
2 years 6 months ago
According to my tally, Hillary also enjoys a clear advantage among too-big-to-fail banksters, imperial warmongers and Big Abortion. Worries that Her Crookedness is a corrupt and sleazy politician were anything but laid to rest when AG Lynch secretly met with former President Clinton... to talk about their grandchildren for half an hour (according to the AG after getting caught), days before the FBI released its report on the famous Hillary email server. I guess only conspiracy theorists would see anything wrong with that.
Edward Silha
2 years 5 months ago
Nothing but unsupported accusations and conspiracy theory. The wealth donors supporting Clinton support higher taxes on the wealthy (they propose raising the amount of taxes they themselves pay). Simons supports closing the carried interest tax loophole, a significant benefit to many in the financial world, as do fellow megadonors Sussman and Soros. Soros has called for greater regulation of banks and financial institutions, and has also said he should pay more in taxes. Schwartz discussed why lack of regulation led to the 2008 recession in a Q&A with Democracy titled “I’m a Capitalist, But We Need a Regulatory Society.” These four alone account for over half of the money contributed to the Clinton effort from the securities & investment industry. Besides retired people, who have given the most at $26.8 million (and frequently lead candidates’ donor lists), the legal industry – lawyers and law firms – leads with $18.3 million, then education (mostly professors and other college employees) with $7.5 million, followed by real estate at $5.7 million.
Frank Montez
2 years 6 months ago
Tragically many Catholics don't know their faith. We shouldn't see all social issues as equal. As Archbishop Gómez and is found in the US bishops voting guide has stated that not all equal moral weight and pro life issues like abortion and euthanasia are the most important as well as opposing so called same sex marriage which Hillary strongly advocates . So as a typical democrat 1) she's attacks life 2) she attacks the family / marriage and 3) she attacks our religious freedom . Btw she publicly said churches must change their beliefs on abortion. Do u ever write you know REPORT on Obama and democratic party increasingly attacking life , family and our religious freedoms ? But I know many of your readers as well as your writers don't accept this . Why not ?
Edward Silha
2 years 5 months ago In the eight years since we’ve had a pro-choice president, the abortion rate in the US has dropped to its lowest since 1973. I believe the best way to keep this trend going is not to simply make it harder for women to terminate unwanted pregnancies but to create a culture with fewer unwanted pregnancies to begin with. Data suggests progressive social policies that make health care and child care more affordable, make contraception more accessible, alleviate poverty, and support a living wage do the most to create such a culture, while countries where abortion is simply illegal see no change in the abortion rate. By focusing exclusively on the legal components of abortion while simultaneously opposing these family-friendly social policies, the Republican Party has managed to hold pro-life voters hostage with the promise of outlawing abortion (which has yet to happen under any Republican administration since Roe v. Wade), while actively working against the very policies that would lead to a significant reduction in unwanted pregnancies. 55% false, or pants on fire 13% false, or pants on fire
Douglas Fang
2 years 6 months ago
After all that is said and done, Clinton is still a much, much better candidate compared to Trump. She may have some issues and problems that we don’t like, but this pales compared to the characters of Trump. Someone here talks about free market capitalism? Trump’s policies is the worst enemy compare to Clinton’s policies. Here is someone who has an intimate knowledge about Trump tells it all in this fascinating article – “DONALD TRUMP’S GHOSTWRITER TELLS ALL” His final words regarding Trump: “Schwartz can understand why Trump feels stung, but he felt that he had to speak up before it was too late. As for Trump’s anger toward him, he said, “I don’t take it personally, because the truth is he didn’t mean it personally. People are dispensable and disposable in Trump’s world.” If Trump is elected President, he warned, “the millions of people who voted for him and believe that he represents their interests will learn what anyone who deals closely with him already knows—that he couldn’t care less about them.”
J Cosgrove
2 years 6 months ago
So your are saying that it is correct that Hillary Clinton is inept and corrupt (FBI characterization), lies continually and doesn't care about the people who vote for her while Trump is a liar and doesn't care about the people who vote for him. One other difference is that Hillary is the choice of the Democratic Party establishment while Trump had the support of no long term Republican official. This indicates the Democratic Party establishment is willing to nominate a corrupt, inept liar while the Republican voters have been hoodwinked (I agree.) Now what caused such a situation? I can't imagine how this could have happened.
Michael Barberi
2 years 6 months ago
With the recent terrorist attacks in the airport in Turkey and Nice and more to come before November, I believe more Catholics will vote for Trump. Clinton is a liar and will do anything for political gain. She is for abortion-on-demand, planned parenthood. A vote for Clinton is a vote for another 4 years of failed Obama policies. Granted, no one issue defines a candidate and we rarely will get a candidate who views are in line with all magisterium teachings. Hence, we as Catholics must weigh the character of the candidate and their position on many important issues. Unfortunately, both candidates have flaws. In the end, we will all have to 'hold our noses' and vote for Clinton or Trump. Given the wrong direction our country is heading in, thanks to Obama and Clinton, and as a weekly Mass-attending Catholic, my vote will be a vote against Clinton, no necessarily a vote for Trump. God help us.
debra vaughn
2 years 3 months ago
I was baptized and raised Catholic. I am against Hillary Clintons beliefs. I will be voting this year for Donald Trump. In my opinion, I feel he can and will fulfill what America wants


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