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Catholic Culture Overview

what Catholic vote?

By Diogenes ( articles ) | Nov 09, 2006

With a palpable sense of satisfaction, the Catholic Alliance for the Common Good-- the folks who brought you the it's-OK-to-vote-for-Democrats voter guide-- note a big swing in the Catholic voter bloc. In 2004 the Democratic Party couldn't hold its traditional Catholic majority; this year, they did. The results were particularly evident in the closely contested Senate races that restored the Democratic majority. In every "swing state," the Catholic vote for a Democratic Senate candidate was higher in 2006 than in 2000-- in most cases, substantially higher.

The Common Good crowd figures that Catholic voters were swayed by "'kitchen table' moral issues like the Iraq War and political corruption." (A "kitchen table" moral issue, in this context, is one on which Catholics are likely to agree with Democrats.) Unfortunately, it's tough to argue with that analysis. On a national scale, there's precious little evidence that Catholic voters made the "non-negotiable" moral issues-- abortion, marriage, cloning, euthanasia-- their primary considerations.

What would happen if political leaders made a concerted effort to appeal to the Catholic vote-- precisely along the lines of those "non-negotiable" issues? We don't really know. But this year there were a couple of "swing states" with a large Catholic population, where pro-life, pro-family alliances worked hard to get out the vote-- in Missouri, for a referendum on stem-cell research, and in Virginia, for a ballot measure on marriage. And guess what? Missouri and Virginia were the only swing states in which a (pro-life) Republican Senate candidates won more Catholic votes than their (pro-abortion) Democratic rivals. Coincidence?

In fairness we should add that in each of these states, the Republican candidate lost a close election. Winning "the Catholic vote" doesn't guarantee victory. But a lopsided loss of the Catholic vote -- check those results in Ohio and Pennslvania-- is a guarantee of defeat.

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