- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 10, 2019

If the presidential election were held today, more Roman Catholic voters would opt for any major Democratic candidate over President Trump, according to a new poll from EWTN and Real Clear Politics.

Well over 50% of likely Catholic voters signaled disapproval of Mr. Trump in the poll released Tuesday by the Catholic cable network and the polling data aggregator. Democratic candidates Joseph R. Biden, Elizabeth Warren, Bernard Sanders and Pete Buttigieg bested the president among Catholic voters.

Moreover, 47% of Catholics said they will never or are unlikely to vote for Mr. Trump, and 44% said they are sure or likely to vote for him. This, despite the president’s appointment of staunchly pro-life judges to the federal bench and enforcing religious liberty protections in federal agencies.

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Political observers say Catholic voters resemble the rest of the electorate.

“There really isn’t a ‘Catholic vote,’ per say, anymore,” said John Kenneth White, a political science professor at Catholic University. “That’s not an identity that most Catholics carry into the polling booth when they vote, and that’s quite different from say the Kennedy election of 1960.”

Mr. White said the EWTN/Real Clear Politics survey demonstrated the first significant measure of Catholic sentiment in recent memory.

The poll of 1,200 Catholics provided results along racial, age and education demographic lines. It also asked respondents how often they pray the Rosary and attend Mass, among other Catholic practices.

“If they had broken this down into Catholics who go to church regularly and particularly white Catholics, there you would find very significant support for Trump, or at least a close race with a Trump advantage,” Mr. White said.

He noted that over the last three presidential election cycles, white Catholics who attend Mass frequently tend be conservative.

EWTN, based in Alabama, said Tuesday the poll results provide only a glimpse of the Catholic electorate.

“There is still much more to learn in the coming polls over the next year, especially in understanding more about the active Catholics and the key issues of our time, including abortion, secularism, religious liberty, and the polarization of American politics and life,” EWTN News Executive Editor Matthew Bunson said. “This poll, however, provides a starting opportunity to understand where Catholics stand, what they are thinking, how they are living — or not living — the Catholic faith, and how that will shape their vote and participation in American elections.”

Catholics showed higher-than-average agreement on a few critical issues, such as the need for Christian values to play a larger role in society (62%) and the rise in intolerance toward religion (70%).

Sixty percent of respondents — 3 percentage points higher than the average of the American electorate — expressed support for the U.S. Supreme Court. Five Catholics — Chief Justice John G. Roberts and Justices Samuel A. Alito, Clarence Thomas, Sonia Sotamayor and Brett M. Kavanaugh — constitute the majority of the bench.

Predicting Catholics’ voting priorities is dicey, experts say. About eight out of 10 Catholics voted for President John F. Kennedy in 1960, but the faithful today do not vote as uniformly en masse, like evangelicals. Almost half of the poll’s respondents said they support congressional Democrats, while 39% said they back Republicans.

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