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Catholic vote may tip US election scales toward Bush

A survey has revealed that a "seismic shift" in the Catholic vote in favour of President George W. Bush may end up having a decisive role in the forthcoming elections.

Catholic News Agency reports that according to the Barna Group, which since 1984 has been conducting and analysing cultural trends related to values and beliefs, "one of the big stories of the campaign is the seismic shift in preference among Catholic voters. Almost one out of every four likely voters (23%) is Catholic."

The group reveals that in May, John Kerry held a small lead over President Bush, 48% to 43%. In the ensuing four months, however, "a myriad of events have stimulated a reversal among Catholics."

"Currently, President Bush holds a commanding 53% to 36% lead over the Massachusetts Senator among Catholics who are likely to vote. That represents a 22-point shift in preference in just four months."

"Equally surprising - the report says - among Protestants who are likely to vote in November, President Bush has seen his 24-point lead over the challenger cut in half at the same time that his fortunes have reversed among Catholics. Since May, Mr Kerry has picked up a small degree of support among Protestants (from 35% up to 38%) while President Bush has lost significant ground among Protestants (dropping from 59% to 50%). In total, that's a 12-point drop in support for the President."

According to the Barna study, "the significance of the faith factor cannot be overlooked in Campaign 2004. President Bush's strongest support comes from evangelical Christians who are likely to vote: 90% of them plan to vote for the incumbent while only 2% plan to support Mr Kerry. Non-evangelical born again Christians, who constitute about two-fifths of the likely voters, also strongly favor Mr Bush (54% to 36%). Together, all born again Christians (evangelical and non-evangelical combined) are estimated to provide about half of the votes cast in November."

"Catholic vote may tip scales for Bush," research group claims (Catholic News Agency 29/9/04)

Catholic Vote May Tip the Scales for Bush (The Barna Group)
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30 Sep 2004