Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity

White Catholics for Clinton: A Demographic Look

Throughout the Democratic party's nomination process, white Catholics have consistently been a strong point for Hillary Clinton, a group among which she tops or ties Barack Obama in almost every single state where exit polling has measured their votes. Exit polling conducted in Pennsylvania shows that Clinton's edge with Catholics is not a function of the demographic makeup of Catholics themselves, but instead cuts across demographic lines.

In Pennsylvania, Clinton racked up her biggest margin yet with white Catholic voters, topping Obama by 44 points. E.J. Dionne asked us to take a look last week, and wrote this column showcasing the findings. The data show that regardless of age, education, sex or income, white Catholics in Pennsylvania were more likely to support Clinton than white Protestants or whites overall. Here's a look at how these groups voted:

All data among white voters from the National Election Pool's Pennsylvania Democratic primary exit poll conducted by Edison/Mitofsky.

Non-college graduates:
Size Clinton Obama Clinton
All 48 71 29 +42
Protestants 53 69 32 +36
Catholics 59 77 23 +54
College graduates:
Size Clinton Obama Clinton
All 52 55 45 +10
Protestants 47 49 51 - 2
Catholics 41 63 37 +26

Household income <$50,000:
Size Clinton Obama Clinton
All 36 67 33 +34
Protestants 38 65 35 +30
Catholics 42 74 26 +48
Household income $50,000+:
Size Clinton Obama Clinton
All 64 60 40 +20
Protestants 62 56 44 +12
Catholics 58 68 32 +36

Size Clinton Obama Clinton
All 42 57 43 +14
Protestants 39 54 46 + 8
Catholics 43 66 34 +32
Size Clinton Obama Clinton
All 58 68 33 +36
Protestants 61 63 35 +26
Catholics 57 76 26 +52

Age 18-44:
Size Clinton Obama Clinton
All 27 56 44 +12
Protestants 28 58 42 +16
Catholics 23 61 39 +22
Age 45+:
Size Clinton Obama Clinton
All 73 66 34 +32
Protestants 72 60 40 +20
Catholics 77 75 25 +50

In the tables above, size indicates a group's size within the demographic group being studied, not their portion within the total electorate, e.g. 41 percent of white Catholics are college graduates, 42 percent of all white voters are men, etc.

By Jennifer Agiesta  |  May 2, 2008; 5:10 PM ET
Categories:  Exit polls  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: The Impact of Wright
Next: More "Sincere" Crossover


This could actually be a meaningful article IF the word "Catholic" were defined. In these times, when people who were raised to be Catholic but actually practice no religion, many still fill in the "religion" blank as "Catholic", which throws off the curve by a very wide margin of error. The fact is, there are really very few real (practicing)"Catholics" left. On any given Sunday in any Catholic Church, a person will find half the pews empty, and almost all of the children go to public schools. However, on Christmas and Easter, the pews and aisles will be filled to overflowing, with no standing room left even for regular attendees. If these "C & E people" (Christmas and Easter people) are the ones being called "Catholic", the article and numbers are actually meaningless, as "Catholic" means more than just a title; it refers to the practice.

Posted by: Maerzie | May 2, 2008 9:59 PM | Report abuse

I was raised catholic, and these results are no surprise to me. Catholics, especially Polish Catholics, tend to be VERY conservative and somewhat authoritarian in their political orientation. Also, they tend to carry a lot of racial prejudice--especially the catholics whose families havent been in the U.S. that long (say less than 100 years). In the small Michigan town I grew up in there were a lot of Polish and Irish Catholics and the vast majority of them were very, very conservative socially. Thus, I think race (and to a lesser extent religion) is the most important factor in explaining these lopsided results. If Barack Obama where a white catholic, the voting results would be reversed and catholics would be voting for him.

They did in 1960 for JFK, who's message is very similar to Obama's. Its called "subtle racism." Although it is not always so subtle. Exit polls show it clearly in Pennsylvania and many southern states. White voters who think race is a major factor in their vote go for Clinton by a large margin-- that racism is not subtle at all; AND, the media seems to not want to talk about it, WTF?

Posted by: rickd | May 3, 2008 12:39 PM | Report abuse

How many of these voters are Repulican's voting for HC to keep this race going?
Giving her more time to destroy Obama's character, reputation, and standing with the general public.
It's charming that the Clinton's - who once relied on the black vote first time around have turned their backs on those very people to court the blue-collar/white/Catholic voters - and unjustly use Obama's color, assoicates against him - when the Clinton's own relationships with some unsavory characters hasn't stood the test of close examination, continous!!!
The Clinton's are are shameful & shamless.

Posted by: Debbie - LA | May 6, 2008 5:27 PM | Report abuse

The person suggesting that many Catholics are voting for Mrs. Clinton to keep the democratic race going is right. That's why I voted, and I know others that believe Mrs. Clinton is less of a threat to the republican candidate, so they vote for her. In other words, they vote for her not because they like her, but to get a less winnable candidate chosen by the democrats - and of course, to keep the two contenders spending their coffers to beat each other, instead of the republicans.

Posted by: Mark | May 6, 2008 10:14 PM | Report abuse

These Poll Results are quite interesting...

2008 Presidential Election Weekly Poll
Results Just Posted!

Posted by: votenic | May 7, 2008 10:43 AM | Report abuse

It's understandable and expected that this would be the case. Yet, the point of the matter is that the entire American public needs to unite, come on one accord and get 'real' with it all. Point, we need a democratic president, Obama has won by the rules and regulations, Hillary needs to rally amongst those in her favor to support the party's interest. That is what would have been expected of Obama had Hillary won. America needs to be fair to all, because it isn't the two candidates from what I see, it is above them because they didn't make the rules. So what's the 'real' problem, Obama and Hillary had rules to abide by, okay, now unite and rally around the winner in all support to prepare Obama for the upcoming debates with McCain, unless, the rules are null and void.

Posted by: Nisey01 | May 8, 2008 8:44 PM | Report abuse

E=mc2. Okay math game in effect. Which votes are creditable, which are not? Add, subtract, divide, multiply, now what? Does every vote still count? Obama still leads. Point. Beyond the math. Aside from the rules and regulations. Point? Had Hillary won, then what? It's Obama's win, now new math? Ooops, I forget the decimal points, round off factors, fractions which could be crucial. Whose got the lead now? Give and take, minus and plus. Obama still leads. Is it really the math or the equation? Solution and conclusion. End result? I'll check back later. OBAMA 08!

Posted by: Nisey01 | May 8, 2008 8:55 PM | Report abuse

Maybe the Catholic voters object to his heartless vote in the Illinois Senate when Obama voted against the "Induced Infant Liability Act," aimed at ensuring medical care of babies who survived late-term abortions. Instead, he voted to let them die.

Posted by: Hillary Supporter | May 8, 2008 11:46 PM | Report abuse

what do you call a candidate that gets 95 percent of black vote but can't get more than a slice of the white vote? A black candidate, of course. Those who are pillorying Hillary for saying the obvious have their heads in the sand. If they persist it will be President McCain,

Posted by: hillary always | May 12, 2008 6:39 PM | Report abuse

Senator Clinton is, and always will be, a SURVIVOR, You just cant put a CLINTON down that easy, Even you should know that Barack; so Lay off Hillary, and Stop acting like, Your wife.

Senator Obama is forgetting this race isn't over. Hold that Maybelline Colored Compact tight; you just might need it yourself to hide the running mascara come November.

In the mean time Simma-down simma-down Big-shot and PaH-leezZZ Shut-up, you didn't receive an Oscar yet "It isn't over till the fat-lady sings," nobody's heard that Opera yet. At this point in the 2008 Election "ANYTHING," is possible; so loosen your belt it seems a bit tight lately and your not in the "Black House yet, nor is Aunt Jamima cooking' up any waffles for you this morning.

Don't count all your eggs in one basket this soon; The ELECTION is just getting started; you might just find yourself, warring Senator Clintons worn down campaign heels near the end, young man!

Posted by: pineapple | May 21, 2008 9:42 PM | Report abuse

Why is nobody asking whether or not Obama's radically pro-Abortion stance (2nd trimester!) is affecting this significant shift among white Catholics? I'd like to believe Nisey01's statements that voters are noticing Obama's "heartlessness."

Further, I'd like to see data on how these voters perceive their candidate's views on abortion. Did these perceptions affect their votes or not? If so, to what extent?

Posted by: Cradle Catholic | May 29, 2008 11:25 AM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company