While reading the voting breakdown of the New Hampshire primary, I noticed two trends among Catholics. One trend was that Hillary Clinton won a large plurality (44 percent) of those Catholics who voted in the Democratic primary. The other trend was that Mike Huckabee underperformed among those Catholics who voted in the Republican primary; he got 7 percent of the Catholic vote, compared to 11 percent overall.
Political analysts and strategists also noticed the trends. Jay Cost at Real Clear Politics wrote that Clinton won “decisively” among Catholics. Michael Barone noted that in the state’s 2000 and 2008 primaries, Catholics broke “heavily” for Gore and Clinton. Deal Hudson at Inside Catholic wrote that Huckabee “has not charmed Catholic voters,” noting that the former Arkansas governor made an appearance before an anti-Catholic evangelist preacher.
So how did reporters analyze the voting trends among Catholics? Did they view them as an embrace of Hillary Clinton and a rebuke of Huckabee?
Well, let me put it to you this way. If I were a novelist, the rest of my post would be filled with white space; if I were in charge of the sound system at a Led Zeppelin concert, the arena would be as silent as a Trappist monastery at midnight; if I were …
OK, you get the picture. No political reporter at a major newspaper — not a one of ‘em — wrote about how Catholics voted, let alone the two trends mentioned above. The New York Times didn’t write about Catholic voters. The Washington Post didn’t write about Catholic voters. The Chicago Tribune didn’t write about Catholic voters. The Boston Globe didn’t write about Catholic voters.
Well, one newspaper did write about Catholic voters, and that was the Associated Baptist Press. Its analysis of the Catholic vote was as follows:
McCain won far larger percentages of all Protestant and Catholic GOP voters than Huckabee.
So maybe reporters believe that there is no “Catholic vote.” Perhaps some recognize my byline and conclude, “Oh, this guy has a book out about the migration of Catholic voters away from the Democratic Party; no wonder he’s criticizing us.” I think both views are mistaken. For one thing, Catholics made up more than a third of voters in both parties’ primaries. For another thing, party strategists (here) recognize the importance of the Catholic vote.
Yes, there is a longstanding antipathy between intellectuals devoted to the Enlightenment and Catholics devoted to Rome. Yet magazine writers wrote about Catholic voting trends. So why don’t political reporters?