Currents News Staff
It seems that Catholic voters know how to pick a winner. Whether Republican or Democrat, they’ve gotten it right almost every time since Franklin D. Roosevelt, with Dwight D. Eisenhower being the only exception.
Brian Browne, a professor of political science at St. John’s University, says the Catholic vote has merit.
“They always seem to land on the winner when it comes to presidential elections,” Brian told Currents News.
This election, the Catholic vote is as important as ever, especially in pivotal swing states like Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois and Ohio, where Brian says the election is expected to be decided.
“When it comes to swing states especially states with significant Catholic populations like Pennsylvania or Ohio, they are always sought after voters when it comes to an election,” Brian explained.
Catholics make up 23 percent of the electorate – the largest religious denomination in the country – according to Gallup analysis, but Catholics do not vote as a cohesive group, making their votes critical and up for grabs.
David Gibson, the director from the Center for Religion and Culture at Fordham University, says the Catholic vote is hard to predict.
“The Catholic vote today is so diverse, wonderfully diverse, as is the Catholic Church,” he explained, “but also so polarized that it’s really hard to predict. There’s such diversity that Catholics have a range of different priorities.”
Gallup data shows that white Catholics who are active in the Church and lapsed Catholics tend to vote Republican, while Hispanic Catholics lean Democratic.
But as the Hispanic community continues to grow in key states like Florida, David says he’s now seeing that vote become more fractured.
“You can’t lump all Catholics together,” he says. “In Florida, you have Cuban exile emigres, you have more recent immigrants from other parts of Latin America. They have very different views. Also very divided, so they can provide the switch, the real momentum that’s either gonna carry the state for Donald Trump or for Joe Biden.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death is also a factor, leading the presidential candidates to retool their strategies on abortion.
Amy Swearer is a legal fellow with The Heritage Foundation, a Washington D.C. think tank that helped assemble the list of potential Supreme Court nominees.
“You will see the rhetoric get a little uglier, more extreme and intense, but I think when push comes to shove this has always been a policy issue that will continue to exist,” Amy said.
She thinks president Trump’s pick will resonate with Catholics.
“There’s a personal connection to Catholic voters and to Christian voters generally, whether it’s religious liberty whether it’s Second Amendment, Fourth Amendment, it’s anything having to do with those individual liberties, I think is what’s going to appeal most broadly to the largest number of people,” she said.
Both camps have fired up teams to go after the Catholic vote, but the candidates too are divided on a host of Catholic concerns. President Trump is solidly anti-abortion, which could attract single-issue Catholics, while Catholic candidate Joe Biden is not.
On social issues like immigration, climate change, health care and the death penalty, the Democrats’ platform is more appealing to multi-issue voters.
“There’s no perfect system, church ordained political system,” said David, “but our constitutional Democracy allows us to have these open and informed debates and elections in which we each take responsibility for the outcome. That’s very much at stake here.
The first debate is expected to be even more revealing as the candidates answer questions about their records, the Supreme Court, COVID-19, the economy and race relations in America.