The Catholic vote was critical in the last presidential election - as it has been historically - and has justifiably received increasing scrutiny from political analysts. This year it may well prove to be more important than in prior years based on the voting patterns of the presidential primaries to date. Catholic Democrats has analyzed data regarding the importance of the Catholic vote during this year's Democratic primaries, which is available here.
The full spectrum of Catholic support - among Latino, black, and white Catholic voters - will be necessary for a Democrat to be elected president in November. Catholic Democrats is committed to working with all of those constituencies.
However an interesting analysis on the growing defection of white Catholic voters was prepared by Democracy Corps in March 2005 entitled Reclaiming the White Catholic Vote. It shows that in the past three presidential cycles there has been a shift of the white Catholic vote of 20%. See graph. In the 1996 campaign, 48% of white Catholics voted Democratic and 41% Republican. In 2004, white Catholics voting Democratic had dropped to 43% and had increased to 56% for those voting Republican. While new dynamics are in play this year, as they were in the 2006 mid-term elections, the report provides some context for understanding the Catholic vote.
Catholic Democrats has compiled data for the 21 (twenty-one) states that held both Democratic and Republican primaries as of March 4, 2008 for which exit poll data is available.
This year, Catholics have been voting wit more zeal than the general population, turning out in proportionally greater numbers in 20 of 21 states, with Utah being the only exception. See graph of the Relative Catholic Vote Importance by State.
Additionally, while voters have been voting overwhelmingly in the Democratic primaries this year - 64% Democratic vs. 36% Republican, a spread of 28% - Catholic voters have been leaning even further toward the Democratic Party - 68% vs. 32%, a spread of 36%. See Analysis of Total Catholic Vote.
While it has become increasingly difficult to project what moves Catholic voters and to characterize them as a bloc, the data indicates that the Democratic Party is in a strong position to appeal to those Catholics who voted Republican in the last two presidential cycles.
For additional information and commentary from the Catholic Democrats spokespersons, please contact Steve Krueger at firstname.lastname@example.org.