In Tuesday’s key Democratic presidential primary election in Pennsylvania, New York Senator Hillary Clinton defeated Illinois Senator Barack Obama with a commanding lead among the Democrat Party’s Catholic voters, according to CNN exiting polling.
Among voting Pennsylvania Catholics who said they attend church weekly, Senator Clinton won 74 percent of the vote. Catholics who said they attend church less than weekly went for Clinton by 65 percent, according to CNN exit polls. Regular and irregular Catholic churchgoers each constituted 18 percent of the poll respondents.
Clinton’s victory among Catholic Democrats came despite Obama’s support from one of Pennsylvania’s most prominent Catholic politicians, Senator Bob Casey, Jr.
Clinton also won over the majority of all Pennsylvania churchgoers, winning even those who said they attend only a few times a year. Clinton won 51 percent of those who attend church more than weekly and 61 percent of those who attend church weekly. She won those who attend church monthly and a few times a year by 54 percent and 55 percent, respectively.
In voter analysis broken down by religious observance, Obama defeated Clinton only among Pennsylvania voters who said they never go to church, winning by a margin of 54 to 44 percent.
By contrast, Obama won 58 percent of churchgoers’ votes in Wisconsin’s February 19 primary, enjoying a majority among all churchgoers except Catholics who attend Mass weekly. Clinton won 53 percent of that demographic, compared to Obama’s 46 percent.
In the March 4 Ohio primary, Clinton beat Obama among weekly Mass-goers by 62 percent, and won 64 percent of Catholics who attend less than weekly. Clinton tied Obama among overall Ohio churchgoers, winning only one segment, the group that attends church once a week, by a margin of 52 percent to 46 percent.
Some analysts speculate that Obama’s controversy-sparking remarks at an April 6 fundraiser in San Francisco about small-town Pennsylvanians who “get bitter“ and “cling to guns or religion” led to his demise in the Pennsylvania primary.
Senator Clinton, who like Obama has opposed social issues like a partial-birth abortion ban and the Federal Marriage Amendment, attacked Obama’s remarks, calling them “demeaning.”
“The people of faith I know don't 'cling' to religion because they're bitter," she said, according to Cybercast News Service. "People embrace faith not because they are materially poor, but because they are spiritually rich.”