Catholics in the U.S. are more divided today by ethnicity and race and whether or not abortion or social justice should be at the top of the churches agenda. Catholics as a voting bloc remain key to any politician as the population of Hispanics continues to increase.
The first U.S. presidential election that had Catholics on both major tickets has underscored what divisions there exist amongst Catholics over priorities in policy and shone a light on how Hispanic Catholics have changed the national and Catholic electorate.
The Catholic voting bloc first took center stage 52 years ago when 82% of them voted for John F. Kennedy a fellow Catholic. However, recently Catholics in the U.S. have been considered a swing group, siding with the popular vote winner since 1972. This year, Obama won the Catholic vote by just 2%.
Today’s divisions within the faith have been drawn along ethnicity and race (Hispanic vs. white), religiosity (how often Mass is attended) and whether focus should be directed to poverty and social injustice or contraception and abortion.
Close to 67% of Catholic voters, who had been interviewed in September said the Catholic Church should keep its focus on poverty assistance social injustice in their public policy statements, even if that meant sacrificing their concentration on issues surrounding abortion.
For the most part, Catholic voters in the September survey oriented toward issues on social injustice were planning to vote for Obama 3 to 1. Likely Catholic voters wanting the church to continue its strong fight against abortion planned to vote for Mitt Romney nearly 4 to 1.
Hispanic Catholics supported Obama the most as the exit polls showed they voted for Obama 75% to Romney’s 21%.