…. A recent RealClear/EWTN poll of Catholic voters… administered exclusively to Americans who identify as Catholic and are registered to vote, attempts to get a glimpse of the leanings of Catholic voters going into the 2020 election by asking both about hot topic issues and about particular candidates.
EWTN’s own analysis of the poll boasts that “Catholics—especially engaged or active ones—have been a crucial voting bloc in every election of the last fifty years, and 2016 was no exception.” Yet the very next sentence of the analysis betrays the naïveté of this claim: “Donald Trump split the total Catholic vote with Hillary Clinton, and he will have a very difficult time regaining the White House without comparable Catholic support.”
Contrary to EWTN’s suggestion, Catholic voters have been “crucial” only in that there are a great number of them, but in no point in modern politics have they constituted a voting bloc in any meaningful sense. In nearly every election of the past 50 years and more, Catholics have voted for the Democratic candidate by just a few percentage points. When they have deviated from that trend, moreover, it has generally been for obvious reasons and in accordance with the broader trends of the national vote, as in 1984 when the Catholic vote swung Republican to participate in Reagan’s landslide reelection. The only remarkable vote—and the only time Catholics voted as a genuine bloc—was in 1960, when 78 percent voted for fellow Catholic John F. Kennedy, for the obvious reason. The Kennedy bump had a residual, waning effect in ‘64 (76 percent Democrat against 24 percent Republican) and ‘68 (59 percent against 33 percent), but there has been no national election since 1968 whose outcome would even have changed if every Catholic in the country had simply stayed home in November.
Such data seem to indicate that Catholic opinion is determined far more by party affiliation than by faith. This strength of party loyalty often leads Catholics into complicity with grave evil, as with the 84 percent who support some form of legal abortion. Many Catholics are wont to make apologies for their Democratic coreligionists in particular (especially the older ones) with sympathetic whispers of, “Well, he’s a Kennedy Democrat…,” as if there were no opportunity for such a voter to evolve after 1963….
The above comes from a March 2 story in Crisis magazine.