Voters and caucus-goers in 24 states cast ballots on February 5, and both the Democratic candidates came out looking like winners. Senator Hillary Clinton captured the majority in the larger states of New York, California and New Jersey. Senator Barack Obama scored victories in more states overall, winning 13 of the 22 contests (with New Mexico still too close to call). Overall, Senator Obama has won the majority of votes in 15 states so far, compared to Senator Clinton's 12. The current delegate count is appears neck-and-neck.
A closer look at how Catholics voted turns up some interesting differences. Senator Clinton won in the delegate-rich California primary, and among weekly mass-attending Catholics by a 3:1 margin over Senator Obama. Even among Catholics who attend mass more sporadically, she won by 2:1. Interestingly, church attendance across all denominations turned out to have no correlation to a vote for Senators Clinton or Obama across the states that voted February 5.
A big part of Senator Clinton's strength in California among Catholics was clearly her appeal to Latino Democrats, who constituted 25% of the voters in California. They favored Senator Clinton by nearly 3:1 over Senator Obama, who performed more strongly among college-educated and wealthier Democrats. Senator Obama did somewhat better among Latino voters in his home state of Illinois, beating Senator Clinton 58% to 41% in exit polling. But despite winning Illinois 2:1, his polling among Catholics was a draw with Senator Clinton there.
In a heavily Catholic state like Massachusetts, where Catholics were 45% of the voters, Senator Clinton did very well. She had twice as many votes as Senator Obama among Catholics, and frequency of church attendance showed no correlation with support for either candidate. In Georgia, a state that Senator Obama won handily, the smaller number of Catholics moved almost evenly into the two camps.
A different demographic was in play in New Mexico, where only 1000 votes separated the two candidates out of 135,000 cast. Senator Clinton fared better among frequent church attenders, and carried weekly mass-attending Catholics almost 2:1. Self-identified Catholics constituted 31% of voters, and those who were more disaffected cast their votes equally for the two candidates. White voters broke overwhelmingly for Senator Obama, while self-identified Latino voters (34% of the electorate) more often supported Mrs Clinton.
Broadly speaking, the two Democrats are finding that their candidacies appeal to both frequent church attenders of all faiths and also to those who attend less often. But Senator Clinton's edge among older white women and Latino-Americans, who constitute an increasing percentage of church-attending Catholics, may be a big part of why she is edging out Senator Obama among Catholic Democrats so far.