American Catholic Voters Support for Kerry on Church Issues Falls as Low as Six Percent

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A major poll of 1,388 American Roman Catholic voters shows Catholic presidential candidate John Kerry getting only 20% support among AmericaÂ?s 51 million Catholics on issues where he opposes the ChurchÂ?s position with his support on some issues dropping as low as 6%.

A major poll of 1,388 American Roman Catholic voters shows Catholic presidential candidate John Kerry getting only 20% support among America’s 51 million Catholics on issues where he opposes the Church’s position with his support on some issues dropping as low as 6%.

The poll commissioned by Associated Television News (ATN) and the O’Leary Report was conducted by Zogby International from a database of Roman Catholic likely voters from identified in previous surveys. The poll was conducted April 30 though May 14, 2004 with a margin of error of + 2.7 percentage points. ATN and The O’Leary Report undertook the poll to determine where the Catholic voting bloc stands on issues of utmost important to the Church compared to positions taken by Catholic candidate John Kerry.

Questions posed on behalf of ATN and The O’Leary Report were worded in a generic “Candidate A vs. Candidate B” format that typically begin with “Would you be more likely or less likely to vote for a Catholic presidential candidate who…”

Responses fell into three categories: Those that felt the candidate’s position would make them more likely to vote for the candidate, those that would be less likely to vote for that candidate, and those respondents who felt the question would not be used in their decision on a presidential candidate. These votes are split rather evenly among Red and Blue States.

The poll’s sponsor and the pollster saw the results differently. O’Leary Report publisher, Brad O’Leary, saw political potential in the results: “The traditional thinking among pundits suggest that the America’s catholic voters are segmented. White Catholics who attend church regularly voted for Bush, giving him 47% of Catholic vote in 2000 – an increase of 10 percentage points over those who sided with Bob Dole in 1996. Hispanic voters who attend church less regularly broke for Gore in 2000 and are still considered fertile grounds for Democrats. That leaves the political middle in which sides with Bush on abortion and gay marriage and with Kerry on social issues.”

Pollster John Zogby was less moved by the results: “I am not convinced that Catholics vote as Catholics. I don't think religion is a principal identifier. I also am not sure many Catholics will be near enough to a Church to hear the Bishops' message. Those who do go to Mass frequently are mainly already conservative. And, besides, issues like the economy, the war in Iraq, and health care will probably be more important in determining how Catholics -- and all Americans -- vote.”

With the positions of the American Catholic clergy and Catholic politicians established, the only thing missing is the view of the Catholic voter.

On average 20% of Catholic voters felt other issues other than those of a religious nature would make help them make their choice for president.

Kerry received only 23% support of Catholics on the question dealing with stem cell research, 23% on same sex unions, 21% support on school vouchers, and 18% on voluntary school prayer.

His support dropped to 6% on parental notification, 10% on appointing federal judges, 10% on same sex marriage, and 12% on protecting the unborn.

Poll Findings

The survey ostensibly focused on abortion, making abortion rare, homosexual and marriage issues.

Ø    80% Less Likely to support a Catholic presidential candidate who voted to allow minors to be transported across state lines for an abortion to evade state restrictions. John Kerry voted against criminalizing this practice in 1998.

Eighty percent of Catholics said they’d be less likely to support a Catholic candidate for president who voted to allow a minor to be transported across state lines for an abortion. A mere 6% said they would be more likely to vote for a candidate knowing this. The numbers are equally as stark in Blue and Red States. Seventy-eight percent of Blue State and 84% of Red State Catholic voters said they would be less likely to support such a candidate. Only 8% of Blue State and 3% of Red State voters would be more likely to support a candidate with this record or position.

Q. Would you more or less likely to vote for a Catholic candidate for president who voted to allow minors to be transported across a state line for an abortion in order to evade parental notification laws in another state?

Total    Blue States    Red States

    More Likely    6%    8%    3%

    Less Likely    80%    78%    84%

    No Difference    12%    12%    11%    

Eighty-seven percent of Catholics who attend church regularly and 72% of Catholics who attend church rarely or never said they were less likely to support a candidate who favored allowing minors to be transported across state lines compared to only 4% of regular church-goers and 10% of non-church-goers who said they’d be more likely to support such a candidate.

Three voter groups tracked regularly by the O’Leary Report and Zogby International, members of the military and gun owners, and NASCAR dads were also tracked among this Catholic sample. Eighty-two percent of gun owners and 80% of non-gun owners were also less likely to support a candidate who voted to allow minors to be transported across a state line for an abortion. Only 5% of gun owners and 7% of non-gun owners said they’d be more likely to support such a candidate.

Seventy-nine percent of military members and 81% of non-military members were less likely to support such a candidate while only 7% and 6% of military and non-military members said they were more likely to support such a candidate.

NASCAR dads among Catholics were every bit as unwilling to support a candidate who voted to allow a minor to be transported across state lines for an abortion as non-NASCAR dads. Eighty-one percent of NASCAR dads and 80% of non-NASCAR dads were less likely to support such a candidate. Only 6% of each group said they were more likely to support a candidate with that sort of voting record.

Ø    68% of Catholics are less likely to support a Catholic presidential candidate who voted against the Unborn Victims of Violence Act. John Kerry voted against passage of this bill.

A candidate who voted against the Unborn Victims of Violence Act is another hot-button issue for Catholics. The law is aimed at protecting the fetus of a female crime victim and drew strong support among Catholics with 68% saying they’d be less likely to support a Catholic presidential candidate if they voted against this measure in Congress while only 12% said they’d be more likely to vote for a candidate who opposed the measure.

Q. The U.S. House of Representatives recently passed the Unborn Victims of Violence Act that would make killing a woman and her unborn child count as two murders. If a Catholic candidate for president announced his opposition to this bill would you be more likely or less likely to support that candidate?

Total    Blue States    Red States

    More Likely    12%    15%    9%

    Less Likely    68%    65%    73%

    No Difference    17%    18%    16%        

Seventy-three percent of regular church-goers and 62% of non-church-goers or Catholics who rarely attend church were also less likely to support a candidate who opposed the Unborn Victims bill. Only 17% of non-church-goers and 9% of regular church-goers were more likely to vote for a candidate who opposed this bill.

Sixty-nine percent of Catholic members of the military and 68% of Catholics who are non-military members also would be less likely to support a candidate who opposed the bill while 9% of military members and 15% of non-military members said they’d be more likely to support such a candidate.

Seventy-two percent of gun owners and 66% of non-gun owners said they would be less likely to support a candidate who opposed this bill while only 9% of gun owners and 14% of non-gun owners would be more likely to support a candidate who opposed this bill.

Seventy-four percent of NASCAR dads and 67% of non-NASCAR dads said they would be less likely to support a Catholic candidate for president who opposed the Unborn Victims of Violence Act. Only 11% of NASCAR dads and 13% of non-NASCAR dads said they would be more willing to support such a candidate.

Ø    65% of Catholic said they would be less likely to support a Catholic presidential candidate who would use a Roe v. Wade litmus test to appoint pro-choice judges. John Kerry said he would support only pro-choice judges to the Supreme Court.

Catholics also heavily opposed a Catholic candidate for president who says he’d only appoint federal judicial nominees who strictly interpreted the Roe v. Wade decision (support for abortions). Overall, 65% of Catholics would be less likely to support a candidate who would use Roe v. Wade as a litmus test for appointing pro-choice judges. Only 16% were more likely to support that candidate. Sixty percent of Blue State Catholics and 73% of Red State Catholics were also less likely to support such a candidate compared to only 20% of Blue State Catholics and 11% of Red State Catholics who would be more likely to support a candidate.

Q. If a Catholic candidate for president said that if elected, he would not appoint federal judicial nominees who didn’t believe in a strict interpretation of Roe and would not appoint judges who favor parental notification for minors seeking abortions, banning partial-birth abortions or any legal restrictions on abortions, would you be more likely or less likely to support this candidate for president?

Total    Blue States    Red States

    More Likely    16%    20%    11%

    Less Likely    65%    60%    73%

    No Difference    13%    15%    12%

Seventy-one percent of Catholics who attend church regularly and 57% of Catholics who attend church infrequently said they, too, would be less likely to support a candidate who would use Roe v. Wade as a litmus test to appoint pro-choice judges.

The same solid show of opposition to such a candidate extended to military and non-military members and among gun owners and non-gun owners. Sixty-seven percent of military members and 64% of non-military members said they would also be less likely to support a candidate who uses a litmus test to appoint pro-choice judges. While only 13% of military and 18% of non-military would be more likely to support a candidate with this sort of litmus test.

Sixty-nine percent of gun owners and 63% of non-gun owners said they would be less likely to give their support to a candidate using a litmus test to place pro-choice judges. Only 16% of gun owners and 17% of non-gun owners took the contrary position and said they would be more likely to support such a candidate.

Seventy-one percent of NASCAR dads and 64% of non-NASCAR dads said they would be less likely to support a Catholic candidate who would use the Roe v. Wade decision as a litmus test to appoint pro-choice judges. Only 13% of NASCAR dads and 17% of non-NASCAR dads said they would be more likely to support a Catholic candidate for president knowing this.

Ø    53% of Catholic voters said they would be less likely to support a candidate who voted in favor of stem cell research from harvested human embryos. John Kerry supports stem cell research.

A majority of Red and Blue State Catholics would not support a Catholic presidential candidate who on the issue of using stem cells from human embryos. Nearly 50% of Blue State voters and 60% of Red State voters said they’d be less likely to vote for such a candidate.

Q. Would you be more likely or less likely to vote for a Catholic candidate for president who voted in favor of stem cell research from harvested human embryos?

Total    Blue States    Red States

    More Likely    23%    26%    18%

    Less Likely    53%    49%    60%

    No Difference    19%    21%    17%

Sixty-five percent of Catholics who attend church regularly said they would be less likely to support a Catholic presidential candidate who voted in a favor of stem cell research from harvested human embryos. Thirteen percent of Catholics who attend mass regularly said the would be more likely to support a candidate who voted in this manner. Only 37% of Catholics who rarely or never attend mass would be less likely to support a candidate with this record and 36% of this group said they would be more likely to support a candidate with this record.

Fifty-two percent of Catholics who are or were members of the military and 54% of non-military members said they would be less likely to support such a candidate while 21% of military and 24% of non-military members said they would be more willing to support a candidate with this voting record.

Sixty percent of gun owners and 50% of non-gun owners said they, too, would be less likely to support a candidate who voted in favor of stem cell research from harvested human embryos. Only 16% of gun owners and 26% of non-gun owners said they would be more willing to support such a candidate.

Sixty percent of Catholics who are NASCAR dads and 52% of non-NASCAR dads would also be less likely to support a candidate for president who voted this way. Twenty percent of NASCAR dads and 23% of non-NASCAR dads would be more likely to support a candidate in favor of stem cell research from harvested human embryos.

Ø    55% of Catholics said the would be less likely to support a presidential candidate who voted against the Defense of Marriage Act. John Kerry was one of only 14 Senators to vote against this bill.

The Catholic Church instructs that Catholic that when legislation in favor of the recognition of homosexual unions is proposed, lawmakers have a moral duty to express his opposition clearly and publicly and to vote against it. With regard, to the recent Defense of Marriage Act, the poll asked:

Q. Would you be more likely or less likely to vote for a Catholic candidate for president who opposed passage of the Defense of Marriage Act and was one of only fourteen senators who didn’t support passage of the bill that defined marriage as a legal union between a man and a woman?

Total    Blue States    Red States

    More Likely    18%    21%    13%

    Less Likely    55%    52%    58%

    No Difference    21%    20%    22%

Fifty-five percent of Catholics were less likely to support a candidate for president who voted against passage of the Defense of Marriage Act while 18% said they were more likely to support a candidate who voted in this way. Fifty-two percent of Blue State and 58% of Red State Catholic voters were also less likely to support such a candidate while only 21% of Blue State and 13% of Red State Catholics would be more likely to support a candidate with this position.

Sixty-one percent of Catholics who attend mass regularly said they would be less willing to support a candidate who voted against the Defense of Marriage Act while 14% said they were more likely to vote for such a candidate. Forty-six percent of Catholics who rarely or never attended mass said they would also be less likely to support a candidate with this voting record and only 23% said they would be more willing to support this candidate.

Fifty-seven percent of gun owners and 53% of non-gun owners were less likely to support a candidate who opposed the Defense of Marriage Act while just 16% of gun owners and 19% of non-gun owners said they would be more likely to support this candidate.

Fifty-five percent of NASCAR dads and 51% of non-NASCAR dads would also be less likely to support such a candidates. Only 16% of NASCAR dads and 24% of non-NASCAR dads said they would be more willing to support a candidate who voted against the Defense of Marriage Act.

Ø    50% of Catholic voters said they would be less likely to support a Catholic presidential candidate who opposes education vouchers. John Kerry voted against education vouchers and said that if he is elected president, he will oppose education vouchers.

Fifty percent of Catholics were less likely and 22% more likely to support a presidential candidate who opposes education vouchers. Forty-eight percent of Blue State Catholics and 53% of Red State Catholics were less likely to support a candidate who opposes education vouchers while 22% of Blue State and 21% of Red States voters would be more likely to support such a candidate.

Q. Would you be more likely or less likely to vote for a Catholic candidate for president who opposes education vouchers – be it for private or parochial schools?

Total    Blue States    Red States

    More Likely    

    Less Likely    

    No Difference    

Fifty-four percent of Catholics who attend mass regularly would be likely to support a candidate who opposes education vouchers and 43% of Catholics who rarely or never attended mass also said they would be less likely to support such a candidate for president. Only 19% of Catholics who attend church regularly and 26% of those who rarely or never attend church said they would be more likely to support a presidential candidate who opposes education vouchers.

Forty-six percent of military and 52% of non military members were less likely to support a candidate for president who opposes educations vouchers while only 20% of military members and 23% of non-military members were more likely to support such a candidate.

Fifty-two percent of gun owners and 49% of non gun owners were less likely to support a candidate for president who opposes educations vouchers while only 18% of gun owners and 26% of non-gun owners were more likely to support such a candidate.

Fifty-one percent of NASCAR dads and 45% of non-NASCAR dads were less likely to support a candidate for president who opposes educations vouchers while only 20% of NASCAR dads and 28% of non-NASCAR dads were more likely to support such a candidate.

Ø    57% of Catholics said they would be less likely to support a Catholic presidential candidate who voted against requiring schools to allow voluntary prayer. John Kerry voted against restoring the right of voluntary prayer in public schools.

Catholics also heavily opposed a Catholic candidate for president who voted against voluntary school prayer. Overall, 58% of Catholics would be less likely to support a candidate who voted in this manner. Only 18% were more likely to support that candidate. Fifty-six percent of Blue State Catholics and 60% of Red State Catholics were also less likely to support such a candidate compared to only 19% of Blue State Catholics and 16% of Red State Catholics who would be more likely to support a candidate.

Q. Would you be more likely or less likely to vote for a Catholic candidate for president who voted against requiring schools to allow voluntary prayer?

Total    Blue States    Red States

    More Likely    18%    19%    16%

    Less Likely    57%    56%    60%

    No Difference    23%    24%    23%

Sixty-two percent of Catholics who attend church regularly said they would be less likely to support a Catholic presidential candidate who voted against voluntary school prayer. Only fourteen percent of Catholics who attend mass regularly said they would be more likely to support a candidate who voted in this manner. Fifty-one percent of Catholics who rarely or never attend mass would be less likely to support a candidate who opposes voluntary school prayer while 24% of this group said they would be more likely to support a candidate with this record.

Fifty-six percent of Catholics who are or were members of the military and 58% of non-military members said they would be less likely to support such a candidate while 18% of military and non-military members said they would be more willing to support a candidate with this voting record.

Sixty percent of gun owners and 56% of non-gun owners said they, too, would be less likely to support a candidate who voted against voluntary school prayer. Only 14% of gun owners and 24% of non-gun owners said they would be more willing to support such a candidate.

Sixty-seven percent of NASCAR dads and 56% of non-NASCAR dads would also be less likely to support a candidate for president who opposes voluntary school prayer. Just 17% percent of NASCAR dads and 18% of non-NASCAR dads would be more likely to support a candidate who opposes voluntary school prayer.

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