The latest Associated TV/Zogby International poll reports a significant change in Catholic support for the leading presumptive presidential nominees of both major U.S. political parties. Zogby analyst Fritz Wenzel explains that the shift amongst Catholics is due to increased concern about "social values."
In mid-July, Catholics polled by Zogby International favored Democratic Sen. Barack Obama by 11 percent. The latest poll now shows they favor Republican Sen. John McCain by a margin of 50 to 34 percent.
Zogby International said in a Tuesday press release that McCain leads Obama among all voters by 42 to 41 percent, as measured by a telephone poll of 1,011 likely voters. The poll, commissioned by Associated TV and conducted from July 31 to August 1, claims a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.
On the other hand, an Associated Press/Ipsos poll conducted between July 31 and August 4 finds Catholic support evenly divided between both candidates.
Fritz Wenzel, a Zogby Polling Analyst, gave CNA a statistical breakdown of the 269 Catholic respondents’ answers.
About fifty percent of the Catholics favored McCain, while 34 percent favored Obama. Twelve percent were undecided, while two and one percent favored third-party candidates Bob Barr and Ralph Nader, respectively.
“Catholics vote largely on a set of conservative values and on social values. On social values McCain has a natural advantage because of his pro-life stance, compared to Obama’s pro-choice stance,” Wenzel told CNA.
“This is a dominant issue in voting for Catholics because of the balance of the Supreme Court. The other issues are also important. When you start thinking about the conditions in the Iraq War, that was a concern for Catholics earlier. It’s becoming less so, so voters are turning to other, more domestic concerns.”
If domestic issues dominate Catholic concerns, Wenzel said, “McCain is going to have an advantage.”
While Wenzel said he could not comment on other organizations’ polls, he defended Zogby International’s record.
“We’ve done extensive polling of Catholics over the years and it’s one of our specialties,” he said.
“We’re confident our numbers are accurate.”