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The Catholic Voter in Summer 2004

In July 2004, Catholics for a Free Choice released a poll of likely Catholic voters to reveal:

  • The priorities Catholic voters see in terms of election issues,
  • Insights into the attitudes of these voters, and
  • Opinions about the appropriate role of the Catholic church and US Catholic bishops in US politics.

The View from Mainstream America: The Catholic Voter in Summer 2004 is the largest and most statistically significant poll available of Catholic opinion on the bishops’ strategy and the 2004 elections. From June 2-10, Belden Russonello and Stewart, a prominent DC polling firm, surveyed 2,239 Catholics, including 366 Hispanic Catholics. The survey has a ±2.1 percentage-point margin of error.

The poll reveals that Catholics overwhelmingly reject the high-risk gambit of a handful of bishops to politicize the sacraments. The poll also shows where Catholics stand on key political issues such as the war in Iraq, job creation, tax cuts, and social services such as health care. While Catholic voters are evenly divided in the presidential race, analyses of results define whom different subgroups would vote for if the election were held today.

Traditionally, Catholic voters have represented over a quarter of the total presidential vote. Catholic voters have switched from one party’s candidate for president to another’s as times and issues have changed.

One thing that has remained constant about the Catholic vote over the last 27 years is its accuracy in determining the outcome of the election. Exit polls have shown that Catholics voted mostly for Richard Nixon in 1972, Jimmy Carter in ’76, Ronald Reagan in ’80 and ’84, George Bush in ’88, and Bill Clinton in ’92 and ’96. In the presidential election of 2000, Catholics comprised 26% of the voters and they favored Democrat Al Gore by the slight margin of 2 percentage points over Republican George W. Bush (49% to 47%). In a close race, Vice President Al Gore won the Catholic vote, just as he did the popular vote nationwide. In 2004, Catholics are evenly divided in support for President George Bush and Senator John Kerry.

How goes the Catholic vote, so goes the country.

Full Report pdf - 326kb

Report by Section

Executive Summary & Selected Charts pdf - 139kb
Findings: Presidential Politicspdf - 99kb
Findings: Influence of the Churchpdf - 82kb
Findings: Issues of Importance/Prioritiespdf - 63kb
Findings: Issues of Importance/War in Iraqpdf - 102kb
Findings: Issues of Importance/Abortionpdf - 83kb
Findings: Issues of Importance/Tax Cuts, Social Security, Medicare and Educationpdf - 94kb
Findings: Issues of Importance/Crime and Death Penaltypdf - 82kb
Findings: Issues of Importance/Gay Rights and Legalizing Gay Marriagepdf - 82kb
Findings: Issues of Importance/US Aid to Other Countriespdf - 92kb
Findings: Issues of Importance/Other Social Issuespdf - 98kb
Findings: The Hispanic Catholic Votepdf - 101kb
Appendix A: Methodspdf - 77kb
Appendix B: Questionnaire with Response Totalspdf - 111kb
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