On June 17, Obama held a slight edge over Mitt Romney among Catholics (49 percent to 47 percent), according to the Pew Research Center. Since then, Obama has surged ahead, and now leads 54 percent to 39 percent, according to a Pew poll conducted Sept. 16. Among all registered voters, Obama leads Romney 51 percent to 42 percent, according to Pew. Obama and Romney are essentially tied among white Catholics, which some pollsters call the ultimate swing group.
But Obama's current even status among white Catholics now is an improvement over 2008, when McCain beat Obama among white Catholics by 52 – 47. Obama's total Catholic vote against McCain was where he is now: 54 percent. But Romney has only 39 percent compared with McCain's 45.
A small word of thanks to Cardinal Dolan, Robert George and K-Lo for helping shift the Catholic vote massively toward Obama with their summer campaign for religious liberty. And special thanks to Paul Ryan. No actual Catholic could ever find anything but puerile cruelty in the works of Ayn Rand, or rally to the idea that home-care for the elderly should be sacrificed to reduce tax rates for the super-rich. Paul Ryan believes that the basic principles of Rand can be compatible with Catholicism. American Catholics are just not that dumb or confused about their faith.
One other small point. The poll, though just released, was conducted on September 16. The polls have shifted slightly in his favor since. The 47 percent tape – about as anathema to Catholic social teaching as is possible to express in its contempt for the poor – cannot have helped. I wonder also about white Catholics and Romney's Mormonism. There may be some conservative Catholics leery of what some regard as a cult.