Trump trails among Catholic voters. His campaign’s new C.E.O. may make things worse.
More than half of all U.S. Catholics (52 percent) would cast a vote for Democrat Hillary Clinton if the election were held today, compared to just 32 percent for Republican Donald J. Trump.
But when broken down by ethnicity, the numbers diverge. More than three in four (76 percent) non-white and Hispanic Catholics would pick Clinton, with 13 percent choosing Trump.
Among white non-Hispanic Catholics, Clinton holds a much smaller lead, 44 percent to 41 percent.
White Protestants constitute Trump’s most supportive segment of religious voters, a group he credits with helping him defeat more than a dozen G.O.P. rivals earlier this year.
Six in 10 (62 percent) white evangelicals say they would vote for Trump today, while 47 percent of white mainline Protestants pick Trump.
Trump’s trouble with Catholic voters was foreshadowed during the primary season, when a group of reliably conservative Catholics urged their fellow believers in the Republican Party to resist Trump, even after he had all but sewn up the nomination.
Those concerns were renewed this week when The Hill reported on comments made by the newly tapped C.E.O of the Trump campaign, Stephen Bannon. The former head of the conservative website Breitbart News had accused the Catholic Church of supporting immigration reform only to boost its own membership.
“I understand why Catholics want as many Hispanics in this country as possible, because the church is dying in this country, right? If it was not for the Hispanics,” he said in March during a radio interview with Princeton University Professor Robert George, a member of the Catholic “Never Trump” movement.
During that interview, Bannon also lashed out at Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, a practicing Catholic, accusing him of “rubbing his social-justice Catholicism in my nose every second.”
Some Catholic leaders have lamented that the 2016 presidential election fails to offer good choices for Catholic voters.
“American Catholics, however they end up deciding to vote, have good reason to be frustrated with the choices they face in both major parties,” wrote Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia in a column earlier this month.
Archbishop John Wester of Santa Fe echoed those comments.
“As Catholics we uphold dignity of all, most especially the poorest and most vulnerable in our world,” he wrote in a letter. “We must grapple with the fact that no one party or candidate represents all my thinking or the Church’s thinking.”
The P.R.R.I. poll released Aug. 25 also found growing support among Catholics for same-sex marriage, which, officially, the church vigorously opposes.
Nearly seven in 10 (68 percent) of U.S. Catholics say they support same-sex marriage, up from just 35 percent in 2003. At the same time, Catholics are about split when asked if support for same-sex marriage goes against their religious beliefs (45 percent say that it does).
About six in 10 Catholics (63 percent) say businesses should not be allowed to refuse services to gays and lesbians based on religious objections.
When it comes to how friendly religious institutions are to L.G.B.T. people, Catholics think better of their church than the American public does. Almost half of all Americans consider the Catholic Church to be “somewhat or very unfriendly” to L.G.B.T. people, with 35 percent seeing the Catholic Church as friendly.
The numbers are switched for Catholics, with 49 percent saying the church is friendly and 45 percent who say it is not.
While U.S. bishops have made fighting same-sex marriage a priority for several years, just 37 percent of Catholics report hearing the issue discussed by their priest in the past few months.
Michael O’Loughlin is the national correspondent for America. Follow him on Twitter at @mikeoloughlin.