2016: Hillary vs. a Catholic?

An interesting observation:

Imagine this: It’s February 10, 2016 and there is a double-header debate with the Democratic candidates going first on MSNBC and the Republicans following on Fox News and all but one of the candidates on both stages has ashes on their foreheads…

There are only about 1,200 days left before Election 2016. Although far too early for anyone to declare yet, some have expressed interest or are thought to be sure to enter the next presidential race. Among those who are considered potential candidates there seems to be an unprecedented number of self-identified Catholics. Perhaps the biggest name who is not Catholic is former Sec. of State Hillary Clinton (she self-identifies as Methodist and currently has poll numbers that are the strongest in the field). If she runs, she may have to face a few Catholics in the Democratic primaries (e.g., V.P. Joe Biden, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and Gov. Martin O’Malley) and if successful then face one of many Catholic Republican opponents in the general election (e.g., former Gov. Jeb Bush, Gov. Chris Christie, Sen. Marco Rubio, Rep. Paul Ryan, former Sen. Rick Santorum, and Gov. Bobby Jindal. Although Rubio more regularly attends a Baptist church he is still self-identifies as Catholic. Former Speaker Newt Gingrich has also said he has not ruled out running again).

Catholics, at about 24% of the population, are already technically “over-represented” in elected and appointed government. Some 27% of the Senate and 31% of the House of Representatives is made up of self-identified Catholics. The Vice President and Speaker of the House self-identify as Catholic as does a super-majority of the Supreme Court (six of nine justices).

Although Hillary has received the most attention as the potential first female president, there are a handful of female Catholic candidates who may test the presidential primaries or be in the running for a V.P. spot (…overall 10% of the Senate is made up of Catholic women with three Republicans and seven Democrats. Female Catholic governors are less numerous). For example, on the Republican side Sen. Kelly Ayotte and Gov. Susana Martinez may be in the mix. On the Democratic side the same might be said about Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, former Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire, Sen. Claire McCaskill, and Sen. Maria Cantwell.

Other Catholic candidates may emerge from the House (…or even outside of government. I don’t think there is an electable cabinet secretary in the current administration other than John Kerry who would unlikely give a Nixon-like second go at it). It is also the case that beyond Hillary there are other non-Catholics who will undoubtedly be in the running. On the Republican side this list may eventually include the likes of Sen. Ted Cruz, Sen. Rand Paul, former Sec. of State Condi Rice, or Gov. Rick Perry. On the Democratic side the same might be said for Gov. Deval Patrick, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, or perhaps Newark Mayor Cory Booker (…if he is able to win a Senate seat in New Jersey).

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