Has the White House misread the Catholic barometer?

Gerald Seib of the Wall Street Journal is beginning to wonder:

If you want to find the absolute center in American politics, you could do worse than look at the nation’s Catholic vote.

In nine of the past 10 presidential elections, the Catholic vote has gone with the candidate who ultimately won the election. Five times it has gone to a Republican; five times to a Democrat. In five of those elections, the percentage of the Catholic vote taken by the winner has been within a single percentage point of the share he won overall.

In 2008, 54% of Catholics went for President Barack Obama and he won; in 2010, 54% voted Republican, and the GOP took control of the House. In short, Catholic voters, who make up about a quarter of the electorate, represent the ultimate swing vote, and they rank right up there with the state of Ohio as a bellwether of presidential-election outcomes. Which is why President Barack Obama has to be worried about the reaction to his administration’s decision that could compel many Catholic institutions, like other employers, to offer contraception services in health policies.

The harshly negative reaction of the church’s bishops—important allies of the president’s on other matters, notably immigration reform—is one thing. The bigger question is whether rank-and-file Catholics, even the majority who tend to disagree with church teaching on contraception, will view the administration’s actions as a case of overreach.

As a result, the administration now faces a delicate question of whether to mend fences, seek a new compromise or assume the flap will blow over without affecting broader Catholic views.

Read more.


  1. A quarter of the electorate does not count those who are now without work, and threats against the very programs that keep them fed and clothed. For the Love of God let some light into this Church!

  2. Even though Carney denied that it will happen, I still think the One will walk this mandate back, and Sebelius will be left twisting in the wind and will not be in his Cabinet if he wins re-election. This has gone viral and the only fig leaf covering up is the secular mainstream media.

  3. Yes, I could see him walking it back, only to ‘stick it to ‘em again’ right after the election. Especially if he loses.

  4. Your wording sounds like afternoon talk radio.

  5. If he lost, the regulations coming into effect could be suspended after inauguration as Reagan did with Carter administration regulations. And, of course, the regulations implement a statute whose future would be in considerable doubt if Obama lost.

  6. Deacon Norb says:

    Please pay attention to what is going on from a broad perspective, ESPECIALLY where this anti-HHS campaign by many American bishops has struck a chord with prominent and powerful non-Catholic sources of influence:

    –The Wall Street Journal is very rarely in the same camp as Roman Catholics on anything. They stated as much when they published a long editorial emphasizing that Ayn Rand and her “Ethical Egoism” was the real driving force behind capitalism. This controversy however, is different.

    –The widely reported ban on Catholic priests reading any letter on the HHS controversy from the pulpits in U. S. Military Chapels has been counter-manded by higher military authority. Some type of letter can now be read in that environment.

    –A deacon friend of mine in Utah indicated that in his area, no letter was written or pushed. Apparently the wider — highly conservative — Mormon environment of that area (including rural Nevada and rural western Colorado as well) makes the who scene a non-issue.

  7. “The Catholic hierarchy seems to be playing a cynical game of chicken and they don’t seem to care that the health and well being of millions of American woman are what’s at stake here,” National Abortion Rights Action League President Andrea Miller said.

    How ludicrous is that statement? If health and well being is a paramount, the baby is seriously being mis-served.

  8. Which means it is at a much higher level than Obama’s speeches.

  9. Yes. I see it as a sort of “show the flag and skedaddle”.

  10. Sound and fury signifying nothing. The bishops will bluster and a year from now they will comply. The folks in the pews don’t care. Most Catholic women use contraception and are just as craven as the rest of the population when it comes to making someone ele pay for it.

  11. YOUR statement is ludicrous. You twisted a statement pertaining to women and tried to equate it to babies when you actually meant fetus. Take the blinders off sheep.

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