Catholics help Clinton maintain lead in new poll

Catholics are giving a decided edge to Hillary Clinton, as she has a 5-to-4 margin over Donald Trump, according to a new poll released on Oct. 31 at a news conference at the National Press Club.

Hispanic Catholics and white women are helping Clinton make these gains, said the poll results, released by the Public Religion Research Institute in conjunction with the Institute for Policy Research & Catholic Studies at The Catholic University of America in Washington.

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Clinton, the Democratic nominee, got support from 51 percent of Catholics compared to 40 percent for Donald Trump, the Republican nominee. This compares to a much closer 50 percent-48 percent advantage Catholics gave to President Barack Obama over GOP challenger Mitt Romney four years ago in Obama's re-election bid.

White Catholics prefer Trump by a plurality of 48 percent to 41 percent. But nonwhite Catholics give Clinton a 78 percent-17 percent boost, said Robert Jones, PRRI president, during the news conference. By comparison, Romney carried white Catholics by 18 percentage points in 2012, but lost to Hispanic Catholics by 54 percentage points.

That Republicans are trailing so badly among Hispanics should come as no surprise, said Maria Teresa Kumar, founding president of Voto Latino, when in 2012 "you talk self-deportation"—a Romney position on immigration—and in 2016 "you're talking about their families ... and then you start talking about building a wall." Trump made headlines on the campaign trail with his remarks that immigrants who are entering the country without legal permission are "bringing drugs, they're bringing crime, they're rapists," and about building a wall to stop such border crossings and make Mexico pay for it.

Many immigrants, Kumar said, live in "mixed status families"—some with legal status, others without legal status, others are citizens, including the U.S.-born children of immigrants in the U.S. without documentation—and 51 percent of what she called the nation's "population boom" are the children of immigrants.

Jones said white Catholics' overall support for Trump did not vary much by age, as Catholics ages 18-49 favored him 49 percent to 40 percent for Clinton, while those 50 and over chose Trump 47 percent to 41 percent for Clinton. He attributed the lack of difference to the church's "loss of the young people, who are generally more liberal." Jones said this trend also can be spotted among white evangelical Christians.

The bigger difference, according to the poll, comes in gender. White Catholic men back Trump 58 percent to 33 percent for Hillary, but white Catholic women support Clinton 49 percent with 38 percent for Trump. "A gender gap in vote preference is evident across religious groups," said the poll, titled "The 2016 Religion Vote." But "white Catholic voters have a much more pronounced gender gap," it said.

There is a gender gap among Hispanics who vote, according to Kumar. In the last presidential election, 51 percent of Hispanic women voted, she said, but only 39 percent of Hispanic men did.

The numbers for this new poll were aggregated from four separate PRRI polls conducted Sept. 22-Oct. 17. The time frame includes the leaking by NBC of a recording of lewd comments made by Trump off camera in 2005 that were picked up by a "hot mic" before a TV interview. The time period does not include the third presidential debate or the FBI announcement Oct. 28 that it was conducting a further investigation into Clinton's emails being on an unauthorized computer when she was secretary of state.

Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne reiterated a conviction he said he has long held: "There is no 'Catholic vote'—and it's important."

Catholics make up a bit over one-fifth of the electorate. However, their numbers are stronger in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, where they are about one-third of all voters, Dionne said. Catholics also make up about one-fourth of all voters in Florida, Arizona, Nevada and Ohio. All of these states were being hotly contested in the campaign's final days.

Jones showed a pie chart in his presentation dividing Catholics into three roughly equal parts: "intentional Catholics" who go to church weekly and tilt Republican; "cultural Catholics" who go to church less often and lean Democratic; and Latino Catholics, whose "slice" of the pie in the chart was the largest of the three.

Dionne, though, broke it down into "social renewal Catholics" for whom life issues are paramount and "social justice Catholics" who focus more on Catholic social teaching. The differences are real, he said. "You see this right at the parish level all over the country. There are differences" in how the Gospel mandate is interpreted, Dionne added.

"Ideology trumps religion. Ideology trumps faith," he declared.

To illustrate Dionne's point, Jones cited result from a PRRI survey released Oct. 26, "The Divide Over America's Future: 1950 or 2050?" Respondents were asked, "Since the 1950s, do you think American culture and way of life has mostly changed for the better, or has it mostly changed for the worse?" Sixty-five percent of Hispanic Catholics replied it had mostly changed for the better, but 57 percent of white Catholics said it had mostly changed for the worse.

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
William Schaeffer
1 year ago
The Supreme Court, the appointment of federal judges, Obamacare, religious freedom, taxpayer dollars for Planned Parenthood, the fate of the Little Sisters of the Poor and the diminished economy are all reasons for Catholics to reconsider their intention to vote for Hilary Clinton.
Chuck Kotlarz
1 year ago
William, are you familiar with either the Clinton or Trump tax proposals? Do you perhaps have comments to post?
James Sullivan
1 year ago
In my humble opinion Trump is a PROUD racist and misogynist to the core. I hate abortion but I support Planned Parenthood - I think the Little Sisters of the Poor can take care of themselves- I'm with her.
Stuart Bintner
1 year ago
As a white male who considers Trump to be closely aligned with the forces of evil, I will vote for Clinton--while not falling into the demographic described. I can sense evil, and differentiate it from misguided, when I see it.
Martha Murray
1 year ago
The IBD/TIPP daily tracking poll now shows the Catholic vote is Trumps by double digits. Practicing Catholics lean conservative and are definitely opposed to late term abortion. If Clinton loses, it will be largely due to the Catholics and her extreme views on abortion. In the end hopefully good conscious will prevail over the evil of abortion.
Falkoyn el Norte
1 year ago
The Catholic edge in voters for The Left's candidate over the Centrist candidate, is quite telling. I am a little concerned with all of the revelations put forth into the World media stream about her, lately. If she is even 1/10th as corrupt as it appears, I wonder why there are people in the Church who would support her at all.
Maree Hutchison
1 year ago
I'm an Australian. Perhaps a citizen of another country should not comment on a US election. But the leadership of the most powerful nation, the United States, is of huge significance to the rest of the world....including Australia. First, many of Donald Trump's policies and beliefs would be detrimental to Australia, especially in our position in the Asian region, and also in his ignorance of the science relating to climate change. . Second, Donald Trump's personal behaviour is appalling and not up to the standard of the civility and fairness that we have respected in US public life. His comments and behaviours have been brutally sexist, racist and frankly bullying of vulnerable people who lack power. I'm Catholic and cannot understand how a Catholic could consider voting for this man.
J Cosgrove
1 year ago
Maree, My experience is that most Americans and nearly all non-Americans do not understand what is going on in the United States. A large percentage of Americans believe Trump is a disastrous choice for president but that Hillary is far worse. So what is one to do? It would take pages and pages to explain but you should not trust the popular press to present anything that is unbiased. Almost nobody in the US believes the press any more. They all distort their reporting to fit what is called a "narrative." It will be interesting to see what happens but few believe it will be good no matter who wins.
I'm Catholic and cannot understand how a Catholic could consider voting for this man.
I'm a Catholic and cannot understand how a Catholic could vote for Hillary Clinton. But you will find many on this site who will. But there are many who believe Trump is the lesser of the two evils. And can be controlled once in power while there will be no control over Hillary and her very negative policies. Here is a podcast that will provide some of the background for the distrust and dislike of Hillary Clinton. I hope you can access it from Australia. http://bit.ly/2fUVLWL
Maree Hutchison
1 year ago
Please note in my comment I did not mention Hillary Clinton. I only spoke about Donald Trump. Even after reading your reply with respect, my assessment of that man stands. As a global citizen, I have a vested interest in who leads the US, especially given Australia has long-standing ties as a close ally via the ANZUS treaty, and we also share a sense of kinship. Incidentally, a comparison of Trump & Clinton's written policies re China and the south-China Sea (our region), reveals concern for us in Trump's approach. I base my assessment of Donald Trump, not on opinion pieces in the US press, but on documented words that come out of his own mouth or writing. His personal behaviour could be described as highly questionable. His unpredictability and impulsivity do not lend themselves to being controlled, as you suggest. I was heartened by the comments of your Senator Susan Collins who publicly gave her reasons for declining to support Donald Trump. Her words encapsulated the respect I have for the decency and fairness of US public life. I checked her background, and she's Catholic. You are a democracy and your citizens will vote as they judge fit. So may the US people speak!.
Thomas Farrelly
1 year ago
I too cannot understand how a Catholic could consider voting for this man. But I have the same opinion about Hillary Clinton. She has a well documented history of lying and corruption, and is an outspoken advocate of unrestricted abortion. As Secretary of State she had zero accomplishments and quite a few bungles.
Thomas Farrelly
1 year ago
It is difficult for me to see how a serious Catholic could vote for either Trump or Clinton.
Maree Hutchison
1 year ago
Thank you for your comments, Thomas. I respect that you know more about internal US matters than I do. Here in Australia, we are watching the results coming in via CNN live- streaming. So far, Trump is forging ahead. Our group is dismayed as it's representing a 'normalisation' of behaviours such as appalling sexual treatment of women, inciting violence, demonisation of minorities and even mocking the disabled. If those behaviours can propel a person towards one of the most respected roles on the planet, then it'd mean they'd be fine for anyone. That has nothing to do with 'political correctness', it's simply a matter of standards of civility and decency to fellow human beings. There are also worrying issues for Australia, in the Asia-Pacific region... including Trump's recommendation that our neighbours, Japan and South Korea, get nuclear weapons for their defence. He either hasn't heard of the international Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Treaty or would ignore it.
J Cosgrove
1 year ago
As I said below, most do not understand what Trump is all about. The following video will explain. It was made a couple weeks before the election by someone who does not like Trump, Michael Moore. The video contains a lot of crude language but it says what so many have been thinking. http://bit.ly/2eUj13b It all began in 1965 when the Democrats changed the immigration laws and allowed large numbers of immigrants into the US. This supposedly was a great humanitarian gesture and it certainly did help a lot of people elsewhere in the world, especially in Latin America. Since that time, about 80 million are officially here who are immigrants, children of immigrants and grandchildren of immigrants. This had an immediate effect of depressing wages so that by 8 years later in 1973 wages for working people in the United States peaked while those involved in more technical jobs got large increases. Working people rightly said their wages peak as there were now millions of low skilled workers to compete with them. Currently, there are 65 million people in the United States who do not speak English in their household (a large percentage do know some English but many do not). There is not enough jobs for these people so wages are at best stagnant as a lot of Americans see others doing very well while they are struggling. Trump cannot change any of this (I hope I am wrong and he can) but he may be able to slow down further changes that would exacerbate the problem even more. My guess is that we have passed the point of no return in the US and there is no way back to even a remote semblance of what used to be. As far as your immediate concerns over China and nuclear weapons. My guess is that less than 1/10 of 1% of people in the US are aware of what is going on in the South China Sea and it had no effect on Trump's popularity or unpopularity. The US press does not report on it. It was never mentioned in the campaigns for the election. It is a non-issue. It should be an issue but it is not.
Maree Hutchison
1 year ago
Thank you. I found your comments as an insider very interesting. I'm a Catholic coming from a different cultural perspective in Australia, which has an entirely different system of government. We would not be tied to one head of government for 4 years (unless major cause for impeachment), because our Prime Minister is selected by his fellow elected members of Parliament, who can challenge leadership at any time. We also have compulsory voting and preferential voting that ramps up participation and takes heat out of 'all or nothing' voting. I'm hearted by information from your exit polls that the 18-29 year olds voted overwhelmingly against Donald Trump. Each generation stands on the shoulders of the previous ones in terms of education levels and social perceptions. I cannot see Trump as a president for the 21st century, on education level. He has no knowledge or respect for science. 'Scientific American' pointed to his public statements like, climate science is just a conspiracy, and autism is caused by vaccinations. He seems to think that personal opinion is sufficient, not evidence. This is stunning, given that there are many US universities on the top list for world research in the sciences. Having worked in Australian universities, I am hugely aware of that. Yet, innovations that raise productivity can be traced to scientific work in the years previously. So economic growth is connected to science. Yet, in the campaign and aftermath, I've heard not one word in praise of...nor support for...the sterling science that's done in the US. The seeds of greatness have always flourished in US achievement & in the decency of many people. I'm sure this will prevail in the long-term despite recent events.

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