Nineteen Sixty-four is a research blog for the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University edited by Mark M. Gray. CARA is a non-profit research center that conducts social scientific studies about the Catholic Church. Founded in 1964, CARA has three major dimensions to its mission: to increase the Catholic Church's self understanding; to serve the applied research needs of Church decision-makers; and to advance scholarly research on religion, particularly Catholicism. Follow CARA on Twitter at: caracatholic.

10.26.2012

A Final Pre-Election Peek at the Catholic Voter

There will certainly be more polls released before election day but absent any substantial October surprise I would not expect to see any big shifts in Catholic voting preferences. My analysis from a Catholic Vote session with others on Monday remains the same. In my opinion it is too close to call. This election may end up being similar to 1988 or 2004 where polls disagreed on which candidate won more Catholic votes (...both those elections involved candidates who had served Massachusetts). 


President Obama has an edge among registered voters but loses this advantage among likely voters. Turnout among different Catholic sub-groups will determine who attracts the more votes. Even in a high turnout election in 2008, Hispanic Catholics and young Catholics, who tend to vote for Democrats in great numbers, had lower turnout rates than older and non-Hispanic voters (although the magnitude of these differences is fuzzy given margin of error).


Surveys on intention to vote mirror what we saw in 2008 with Hispanic and younger voters indicating they will remain less likely to vote. Catholic sub-groups who tend to vote Republican (i.e., weekly Mass attenders) are more likely to vote which may give Gov. Romney an edge in the end. I do think the Catholic vote will likely maintain its bellwether status and follow the popular vote closely. 

One thing to watch closely in an election that seems to be primarily about economic issues and jobs is the final unemployment data that will be released before the vote. Gallup's tracking on unemployment might offer a preview of what will be reported. However, some good news in this report last month did not provide a boost for the President in the polls. 

Stay tuned as CARA will certainly have post-election analysis. However, with Exit Polls being cut this may take a few weeks to collect enough data from a variety of polls to have some confidence in what actually happened. Update 10/31: Greg Smith from the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life mentioned that although some state Exit Polls were cut that there will still be a National Exit Poll conducted. It is not clear what sample sizes will be available or how many forms will include a full religious affiliation question but it will still be possible to have an estimate of the Catholic Vote after the election. 

There is of course one very safe prediction that doesn't rely on polling. We will have a Catholic VP.

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