Sunday, June 15, 2008

Catholics Looking for a Political Home?

From Catholic News Agency (via Catholic Online):
GRAND RAPIDS (CNA) - A new survey examining party affiliation and religious observance finds that Catholic support is about evenly split between the Republican and Democratic presidential candidates in the upcoming election.

Due to this almost even division, non-Hispanic Catholics are considered to be “up for grabs” in the 2008 election.

The survey broke down Mainline Protestants, Evangelical Protestants, and non-Hispanic Catholics into the three subgroups of traditionalists, centrists, and modernists.

Traditionalists were categorized as those who adhere to their historic beliefs of their faith and have high levels of religious observance and identification with sectarian religious movements.

Modernists, in the survey’s reckoning, subscribe to “more heterodox religious beliefs,” are less religiously observant, are more likely to identify with ecumenical religious movements, and are more eager to include modern beliefs and practices. Centrists fall between traditionalists and modernists.

“Traditionalists, regardless of their particular religious tradition, are the most supportive of McCain, while modernists, regardless of religious tradition, are the most supportive of the Democratic candidate,” the survey found.

Significant political divisions within churches were also uncovered by the survey. Summing up the results, Calvin College researchers found that, “partisan differences between traditionalist and modernist components within the same religious tradition tend to be greater than the political differences across the three major religious traditions overall.”

The researchers found that a new trend was appearing amongst religious voters. According to their report, “Religious beliefs and practices are beginning to replace religious affiliation as the primary religious basis of political cleavages. One’s religious tradition affiliation continues to shape political tendencies, but such tendencies are even more shaped by the specific kind of person one is religiously within that particular tradition.”

The survey categorized 5.3 percent of the respondents as traditionalist Catholic, a group that favors the Republicans over the Democrats with a 56 percent to 23 percent difference in 2008, compared to a 57-30 difference in 2004.

About 5.4 percent of survey respondents were centrist Catholics, who favored Democrats to Republicans by a 47-34 percent margin 2004. In 2008, centrist support for Democrats had eroded slightly with 41 percent favoring Democrats and 37 percent supporting the Republican Party.

About 4.9 percent of respondents are modernist Catholics, 51 percent of whom favored Democrats and 38 percent Republicans. Their party affiliation in 2008 changed to 59 percent Democrat and 20 percent Republican.

(emphasis added)

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