Catholic Vote Shifts Toward McCain

By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
Staff Writer

A new poll by Zogby International found that rising concern about social values is tipping the scales in the direction of Republican candidate John McCain (R-AZ) among likely Catholic voters.

According to a report by the Catholic News Agency (CNA), the latest Associated TV/Zogby International poll found a significant change in Catholic support for the leading presumptive presidential nominees of both major U.S. political parties.

A Zogby poll taken in mid-July showed Catholics favoring Democratic Senator Barack Obama by 11 percent. However, the latest poll conducted among 269 likely Catholic voters from July 31 to August 1 shows Catholics now favoring McCain by a margin of 50 to 34 points. Twelve percent were undecided, while two and one percent favored third-party candidates Bob Barr and Ralph Nader, respectively. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.

Zogby analyst Fritz Wenzel explains that the shift among Catholics is due to increased concern about “social values.”

“Catholics vote largely on a set of conservative values and on social values. On social values McCain has a natural advantage because of his pro-life stance, compared to Obama’s pro-choice stance,” Wenzel told CNA.

“This is a dominant issue in voting for Catholics because of the balance of the Supreme Court. The other issues are also important. When you start thinking about the conditions in the Iraq War, that was a concern for Catholics earlier. It’s becoming less so, so voters are turning to other, more domestic concerns.”

If domestic issues dominate Catholic concerns, Wenzel said, “McCain is going to have an advantage.”

Another poll, the Associated Press/Ipsos poll conducted between July 31 and August 4 finds Catholic support evenly divided between both candidates.

While Wenzel said he could not comment on other organizations’ polls, he defended Zogby International’s record.

“We’ve done extensive polling of Catholics over the years and it’s one of our specialties,” he said.

“We’re confident our numbers are accurate.”


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