Catholics lean slightly toward Romney: Reuters/Ipsos poll

WASHINGTON Mon Feb 13, 2012 3:54pm EST

Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney speaks at a Republican Caucus in Sanford, Maine February 11, 2012. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney speaks at a Republican Caucus in Sanford, Maine February 11, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Brian Snyder

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Despite a battle over birth-control policy between the White House and Roman Catholic leaders, U.S. Catholics' political views differ little from those of non-Catholic voters, according to Reuters/Ipsos poll results released on Monday.

About four in 10, or 37 percent, of Catholic voters approve of Democratic President Barack Obama's performance, and 48 percent disapprove, according to the online survey of registered voters conducted February 6-13.

The numbers are nearly identical for non-Catholic, with 37 percent approving and 50 percent disapproving, the online poll found.

Twenty-five percent of Catholic voters feel the country is headed in the right direction, and 61 percent believe it is not, the survey said, compared with 24 percent and 63 percent for non-Catholics.

Results for Catholics and non-Catholics also both show a statistical dead heat if Republican Mitt Romney were his party's nominee and the 2012 presidential election were held today, although Catholic voters favor Romney slightly over Obama.

The online poll found that 42 percent of non-Catholic registered voters would back Obama, versus 39 percent for Romney. Among Catholics, 42 percent would pick Obama, but the number was higher - 44 percent - for Romney.

"It certainly suggests that Catholics are a little more Romney-favorable than not," said Chris Jackson, research director for Ipsos Public Affairs.

Obama on Friday made health insurers responsible for providing free birth control to employees of religious groups. The move aimed to placate leaders of the Catholic church who oppose contraception and objected to the initial rule that church institutions be forced to provide such coverage.

The policy ended days of squabbling between the administration, church officials and Republicans in Congress over the rule, which had briefly seemed like it might become a campaign issue in the November presidential election.

Romney and other Republicans vying for the nomination to oppose Obama's re-election bid used the issue to contend that the White House was waging a war on religion.

The Reuters/Ipsos survey found that 42 percent of Catholics disagreed with the idea that religious hospitals or health organizations should be required to provide birth control or contraceptives.

Thirty-three percent of non-Catholics disagreed.

Jackson said the result indicated that, given the issue's sensitivity, Obama had done well to come up with a solution well before the November 6 general election.

"Getting out with a win, or at least a draw, now is a good strategy before it becomes a bigger issue," he said. "His best chances for re-election have always been the economy and focusing on the improvement in the economy."

The precision of the Reuters/Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval, a statistical measure used because the sample of likely voters is selected from pre-screened voter panels.

For the broader poll, non-Catholic registered voters had a credibility interval of plus or minus 2.6 percentage points. The interval was plus or minus 5.2 percentage points for Catholic registered voters.

For the contraception questions asked between February 8 and 13, non-Catholic responses had a credibility interval of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points; Catholic responses had a credibility interval of 6.7 percentage points.

The broader survey interviewed 1,899 non-Catholic registered voters and 484 Catholic registered voters. The contraception questions were asked of 1,136 non-Catholics and 287 Catholics.

(Editing by Marilyn W. Thompson and Philip Barbara)

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Comments (10)
John2244 wrote:
It doesn’t matter unless you live in a state or district at play. Of the top 10 Catholic populations, all of the large established populations are in the NorthEast. For example Rhode Island is about 65% where Georgia is 10% These states are Democrat anyway and regardless of most of the noise a lot of the famous Catholic institutions that are businesses such as Hospitals in Boston, New York and Washington aren’t going to change their vote because of this issue.

The next set of states to have a high Catholics after the North East are Texas, Arizona, Florida and California – all from the latino vote. Regardless of abortion issues, most latino’s are going to vote Democrat because the Republicans are coming down hard on the legal and illegal community.

The only state that matters is Pennsylvania – a big Catholic state with part of its population in the North East (Philly) and the other half in the Rust Belt (Pittsburgh). The author could have saved us a lot of reading and just focused on the Catholic reaction and break down in Pennsylvania.

Feb 13, 2012 4:21pm EST  --  Report as abuse
forzapista wrote:
What a misleading article. Based upon your measurements of 42% for Obama and 44% for Romney is well within your own stated “credibility interval” of 5.2%. That is a statistical dead heat and there is no “slight favor” indicated by your poll. Your poll indicates they are tied. You would do your readers a favor by reporting the truth instead of attempting to make news where none exists.

Feb 13, 2012 5:42pm EST  --  Report as abuse
AlkalineState wrote:
“Catholic” is not a political descpriptor any more. Hasn’t been since Kennedy. It’s too vague. It used to be code for “The-poor-people-from-europe-we-were-trying-to-get-away-from.” Since that was uncivilized to say, they just called all the Micks and Italians and Poles “Catholic.”

Now Catholics are indistinguishable from anyone else after a few more generations of marrying into the melting pot. The “Catholic Vote” might as well be the “Lunch-Eater-Crowd.” Kind of runs the full spectrum, so it doesn’t say much.

Feb 13, 2012 6:29pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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