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.


Religion by the Numbers: Autumn Updates

Earlier this year we did a theme post on Catholics in the summer and it now seems fitting to tackle the fall. This is my favorite time of year. I love the colors of the season, football, the food, the fun of Halloween, and the thrill of Election Day (I'm a political scientist!). Here is a bit of religion by the numbers on some of these seasonal issues...

Updates on Election Season: The Catholic Vote and Likely Turnout
New polling numbers from Gallup are out today on the Catholic vote and other sub-groups of the electorate. Among those Catholics who are registered to vote, President Obama leads Gov. Romney 50% to 44%. As noted in my previous post, these numbers are likely to continue to tighten next week moving parallel to the national trend (...Updated numbers here).

Gov. Romney has a 10 point advantage among Protestant registered voters (52% to 42%). The president has an enormous advantage of +45 percentage points among voters of no religious affiliation (68% to 23%). 

There are also updated numbers on anticipated turnout among sub-groups of registered voters out (i.e., those indicating they will "definitely vote"). Currently, 83% of registered Catholics indicate this, which is similar to the estimated turnout of the electorate overall (...the figure excludes those who are not registered to vote). Several of the sub-groups inched up in voting anticipation this week over last

In other religion-related election news... Sen. Harry Reid has been serving in the role traditionally reserved for the vice president as the lead "attacker" for the incumbent president. This is not often considered the work of the Senate majority leader. It began weeks ago with his claims that Gov. Romney had paid no income taxes in the last decade. Although many objective sources doubted that this was even possible, Sen. Reid stood by information he says he received from an unnamed source. Today, Sen. Reid shifted his criticisms beyond Gov. Romney's tax returns to his role in his religion ( Mormon's have been polling strongly in favor of the Republican candidate). I think the president's campaign might have been hoping that the public and media might "connect the dots" and realize that some of the campaign's most serious criticisms and accusations were coming from someone within Romney's church (...however many don't know Romney's religion and I assume even fewer are aware of Reid's). Sen. Reid's criticisms have been politically effective especially in light of Gov. Romney's "47 percent" remarks. Yet, regardless of the religious connection these have also made the majority leader look at a minimum a bit unstable and at the most dishonest. Of course Gov. Romney could simply offer to produce as many tax returns as Sen. Reid can produce Senate budgets. I'd like to see Gov. Romney's tax returns (...rather than accountant summaries). However, as a political scientist concerned about the operation of government and mounting debt levels I'd like it even more if Sen. Reid did more to produce a budget.

Catholicism in the Fall Season
Columbus Day is just around the corner (...and depending on what state you live in you may have the day off work or school). Although Christopher Columbus was Catholic there is still some debate about his nationality that we've noted before. Do Catholics in the United States today view Columbus differently from those of other religions? Yes. As shown below, only 13% of Catholics feel that he should not be given credit for discovering the Americas. Those who are not Catholic have more doubts. 

Moving down the calendar... If you've been shopping lately you've likely noticed the Halloween candy, decorations, pumpkins, and costumes beginning to take prominent places around stores (depending on where you shop Christmas lights may already be for sale on the next aisle over). All Hallow's Eve is deeply embedded in Church history as the "Night Before All Saints' Day." Are Catholics more likely than others to celebrate it? Perhaps not. As shown below, only about one in four Catholic adults wear costumes. This is similar to those of other affiliations with the exception of Evangelical Protestants who are less enthusiastic about the holiday (only 13% plan on dressing up themselves).

But wearing a costume as an adult could be considered kind of odd to some. Perhaps a better question is directed at parents and whether they plan to let their children trick-or-treat. Expect many of the kids coming to your door looking for candy to be either Catholic or of no religious affiliation. Evangelical Protestant and non-Christian parents don't show the same enthusiasm for the holiday. Mainline Protestant parents trail Catholics slightly in their plans of letting their children trick-or-treat.  

Stay tuned for another "seasonal" update around Thanksgiving, much more election analysis in-between, and the release of some major new CARA research studies.

Photo above courtesy of blmiers2 from Flickr Commons.

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