Palin Attracting Catholic Vote

By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
Staff Writer

The selection of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as Senator John McCain’s vice presidential running mate is being cited as the reason for a dramatic increase in the Senator’s popularity among Catholic voters who attend church weekly.

According to the latest poll by the  Pew Research Center of 2,307 likely voters, Catholics who attend church weekly support McCain by a margin of 52 to 36. This differs from a similar poll taken in August which showed this group of voters only slightly preferring McCain by a 45 to 42 percent margin.

Catholics who attend church less than weekly are almost evenly split, preferring Obama by 46 to 45 percent. In August, the same group of Catholics preferred Obama over McCain by 46 to 44 percent.

In a report by the Catholic News Agency, the director of survey research at Pew Research Center, Scott Keeter, told the Christian Science Monitor that the selection of Governor Palin was “the big part” of the shift among Catholics.

Palin’s large family and her bearing her fifth child despite his diagnosis of Down syndrome embodies pro-life beliefs preferred by many observant Catholics, Keeter said. The selection of Palin also reassured observant Catholic voters on “a whole constellation of values issues that are important to conservative Christians,” he added.

However, David Campbell, a political scientist at the University of Notre Dame, said he didn’t believe that either frequent Mass attending Catholics or non-observant Catholics would swing the election.

“In the middle, however, is a fairly large group of Catholics who still think of themselves as Catholic and they still go to church periodically,” Campbell said.

Lara Brown, a political scientist at Villanova University, said Palin could help close the so-called “gender gap.”

“Palin gives these women who are culturally conservative an opportunity to say, ‘Wow, someone represents me.’”


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