Dramatic shift in US Catholic vote, polls reveal

With the Bush government reeling on the brink of losing control of both the US Senate and House of Representatives, early results from exit polls indicate a dramatic shift among Catholic voters from Republican to Democrat candidates.

The Catholic lobby group, Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, which performed the preliminary analysis on exit poll data from the National Election Poll, credited the swing to Catholic voters' increasing concern with "kitchen table" moral issues like the Iraq war and political corruption.

According to the Alliance, in each of the seats the Democrats picked up in the Senate, Catholic voters came back to the party in droves.

The shift was most dramatic in Ohio, where Senator Mike DeWine lost 42 percent of Catholics who voted for him in 2000, according to the Alliance.

But the shift was also pronounced in other states. Pennsylvania's Rick Santorum lost 25 per cent to Bob Casey, Virginia's George Allen lost 16 per cent, and Montana's Conrad Burns lost 11 per cent.

The key difference, according to Flavia Monteiro Colgan of the Philadelphia Inquirer, was that "finally, the Democrats who won realised that they had more in common with people of faith than differences, so there was no need to fake it on the hot button issues".

"Washington Democrats should take this lesson to heart - people of faith largely have the same concerns as everyone else," Colgan says.

"They want to care for the poor and underprivileged. They want to be stewards of the earth. Religious people want peace on earth.

"And, most of the time, they will vote for someone they disagree with on some social issues as long as that candidate is strong on the issues that matter most."

The Alliance was founded in 2004 to provide information to Catholics about Church social teaching and the need for Catholics to participate in political life.

Dems got that ol'-time religion (Philadelphia Inquirer, 9/11/06)
Catholic shift gives Democrats big boost (New Jersey Star-Ledger, 9/11/06)
Exit Polls Confirm Dramatic Shift in Catholic Vote (Catholics in alliance for commong good, 8/11/06)
Democratic victory owes much to moderate voters (KRT Wire, 9/10/06)
Are Democratic gains for real, or only due to war, scandal? (Pittsburg Post-Gazette, 10/11/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Democratic Party
Republican Party National Committee
Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good

US Democrats to appoint "Catholic Outreach" coordinator (CathNews, 10/11/06)
Moral issues "decisive" in Bush re-election (CathNews, 5/11/04)

10 Nov 2006