Once again, Catholics will decide who will live in the White House for the next four years. It is not that Catholics constitute a majority of the electorate. Nor is it the case that there is any monolithic “Catholic vote” poised to go one way or the other. But, for a variety of reasons, Catholics will nonetheless break one way or the other in the final weeks of the race, and that will decide whether President Barack Obama or Gov. Mitt Romney wins….
Catholics…mirror the general electorate. About 46 percent are reliably Democratic voters and a like number almost always support the Republican candidate. It is those voters in the center of the Catholic electorate who are genuinely up for grabs, and whom the campaigns can try and reach without fear of driving up an opponent’s turnout. In 2004, Catholics broke for George W. Bush, 52 percent to 47 percent, giving him the election. In 2008, they backed Obama over Sen. John McCain, 54 percent to 46 percent. The 2008 election was not as close as the 2004 race, so the Catholic swing vote was less decisive. But all analysts are predicting that 2012 will be a very close race. In a September Pew poll, Obama was leading Romney by 54 percent to 39 percent among Catholics, besting his 2008 showing. Polling also shows that Catholics’ concerns regarding the issues track closely with the electorate as a whole. While more evangelicals rate abortion or same-sex marriage as a major concern, Catholics tend to rate the economy and jobs as their principal worries.