Data show that Catholics are fairly evenly split when it comes to the two major U.S. political parties, but a substantial number of Catholics don’t identify with a party at all.
According to CARA’s polling data, most adult Catholics overall are not affiliated with a political party (25.9 million) and 23.9 million consider themselves to be “middle of the road” when it comes to political ideology.
That said, CARA estimated that there are 16.2 million Catholic Democrats compared with 12.4 million Catholic Republicans, but interestingly more Catholics describe themselves as conservative than liberal — 19.3 million versus 13.7 million.
An EWTN News/RealClear Opinion Research poll conducted in June, working with a sample size of 1,581 Catholic voters, found that 42% identify with the Democratic Party, an apparent decrease from the 45% of Catholics calling themselves Democrats in 2020. The percentage of Catholics who identify as Republicans increased from 34% to 38% in that time, with 20% identifying as Independents.
Data from the 2020 election show a very close split between the Catholic electorate when it came to choosing between a Democrat and a Republican for president. Edison exit polls from 2020 estimated that 52% of all Catholic voters voted for Joe Biden, and 47% for Trump. AP VoteCast, on the other hand, pegged the Catholic split as being even closer, concluding that 49% of Catholics voted for Biden and 50% for Trump.
Breaking down their presidential preference by race, an EWTN poll conducted in September showed Trump with an edge among white Catholics, 50%-45%. The closeness of the split becomes more apparent when comparing it with white voters of other faiths. According to AP VoteCast, white evangelical Christians — who made up almost a quarter of the electorate in 2020 — voted overwhelmingly for Trump, 81%, versus only 18% for Biden.
Gallup concluded that the Catholic vote was split in each of the last three elections, with minor fluctuations from year to year. The Democratic candidate received 50% in 2012, 46% in 2016 and 52% in 2020, according to exit polls. And despite Biden being elected as only the second Catholic president in U.S. history in 2020, Gallup concluded that ”Biden’s Catholicism did not result in a startling or substantial uptick in support for the Democratic ticket among Biden’s fellow Catholics compared with Democratic performance among Catholics in previous elections.”
Among Catholic voters looking ahead to the midterms, 47% see Democrats in Congress as favorable (compared with 53% in 2020), according to an ETWN poll conducted in June, and 49% see them as unfavorable (compared with 47% in 2020). Republicans are just as unpopular, but their numbers haven’t changed since 2020, EWTN’s poll found.
As with voters overall, the economy is a top issue for Catholic voters.
An EWTN poll conducted in September found that more than half of Catholic likely voters cited either the economy in general or inflation specifically when asked about the most important issue facing the nation. Immigration and abortion were tied for third, at 10% each, followed by crime and climate change at around 9% each.
While a major element of the Democratic Party’s campaign for the 2022 election, abortion trails significantly behind other issues, including inflation and the economy, as most important. Only 10% of Catholics say abortion is the most important issue facing the nation. Abortion was chosen as the top issue among Hispanic voters, however.
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Catholics aren’t happy with President Biden’s performance — but they don’t want Trump again, either.
EWTN’s polling in September showed that Catholics across the political spectrum are unhappy with the performance of the nation’s second Catholic president.
When asked how they feel Biden is handling his job as president, nearly 52% of Catholic voters said they either disapproved (5%) or strongly disapproved (47%); around 46% either approved (32%) or strongly approved (14%). Notably, the strong disapproval number was significantly higher than strongly approved. Only 2% of voters had no opinion.
A majority of Catholics (58%) feel that Biden should not run for a second term in 2024, while only 22% support a possible reelection bid; 19% of Catholics are not sure.
That being said, most Catholics (67%-27% with 10% not sure) also do not want former President Donald Trump to run for president again in 2024.
Frequency of Mass attendance affects how Catholics vote.