Poll finds most Catholic voters disapprove of president, support Romney

.- Most U.S. Catholic voters disapprove of President Barack Obama's job performance and support Mitt Romney, according to a February 2012 survey by the polling firm Rasmussen Reports.

Its national telephone survey, conducted Feb. 6-12 amid controversy over the federal contraception mandate, found that 59 percent of likely Catholic voters at least “somewhat disapprove” of the Obama presidency.

While 54 percent of Catholics voted for Obama in the 2008 election, only 35 percent of likely Catholic voters in Rasmussen's latest poll said they were currently backing him in the 2012 race. Support for Mitt Romney among likely Catholic voters currently stands at 52 percent.

In total, Rasmussen found, Catholics who “strongly disapprove” of the president comprised 44 percent of the faith's likely voters. They outnumbered, by more than two-to-one, those Catholics who say they “strongly approve” of the current presidency.

Catholic disapproval with the presidency, as of February 2012, is nearly 10 percent higher than in the general population. Among all likely voters, Rasmussen found that 49 percent disapproved, and 50 percent approved, of President Obama.

Strong support for Obama among Catholics, as of Feb. 12, was proportionately lower than in the general population. While 26 percent of all likely voters “strongly approve” of his job performance, only 19 percent of Catholics say the same.

Passionate disapproval, on the other hand, was proportionately higher among likely Catholic voters. Only 38 percent of all voters said they “strongly disapproved,” 6 percent lower than the figure of 44 percent among Catholics.

Nine months before the nation's next presidential election, Catholic voters' overall dissatisfaction with President Obama has reached nearly the same levels found among Evangelical Christians.

Among Evangelicals, 61 percent of likely voters were at least “somewhat dissatisfied” with the president. Other Protestants disapproved by a narrower margin, 52 percent.

Across-the-board disapproval with President Obama now prevails among adherents of all faiths who regularly attend worship services. Those who attend services weekly or near-weekly disapproved at a rate of 59 percent, compared to 41 percent in the same group who approved.

Nearly the opposite trend appeared among those who “rarely or never” attend religious services. In this group, 63 percent approved of the Obama presidency compared to 36 percent who did not.

On Feb. 6-7, shortly before the president announced a controversial revision of his contraception mandate, 65 percent of likely Catholic voters told Rasmussen they disapproved of the administration's bid to force religious employers to cover contraceptives and sterilization in their health plans.

Both versions of the contraception mandate have been rejected by the U.S. Catholic bishops' conference as infringements on religious freedom.

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