Tags: hillary | catholic | vote

Hillary's Secret Weapon: Catholics

Tuesday, 04 Mar 2008 08:01 AM

By Phil Brennan

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Hillary Clinton's hopes for saving her candidacy by winning in Tuesday's crucial primaries in Rhode Island, Vermont, Ohio, and Texas may hinge on a specific voting bloc — Catholics.

According to CNN's Anderson Cooper show on Monday night, Catholics vote for Democratic candidates by substantial margins, and this year exit polls showed that Hillary has won the Catholic vote in every Democratic primary but that in Connecticut.

In general elections, Catholics vote Democratic over Republican by 44 percent to 41 percent, and have favored Hillary over Obama in this year's prinaries.

In California, Hillary won 66 percent of the Catholic vote to Obama's 30 percent and took New York by the same lopsided margins.

In Massachusetts, it was 64 percent for Hillary and 33 percent for Obama, despite Ted Kennedy's and John Kerry's endorsements of Obama. Both Kennedy and Kerry are Catholics.

Obama, CNN's Gary Tuchman recalled, won his home state of Illinois but even there lost among Catholics.

Professor Wendy Schiller, who teaches political science at Brown University, explained "The Catholic vote today in America, particularly Democratic Catholics, is dominated by older women." She said that such women are key to Hillary's success among Catholics.

"There are more women who identify themselves as Catholic than men, and they are more predictable in their voting behavior. They tend to vote more and they sometimes dominate the household. They volunteer more; they tend to get involved in campaigns more; and they care about the kinds of issues that Hillary Clinton has been emphasizing.

Said Tuchman, "Catholics have become the ultimate swing vote. Since 1972, the presidential candidate who received the most votes in the general election, received the most Catholic support. In the 2000 election, a very interesting example, Al Gore lost it, but won the popular vote but also won the Catholic vote."

CNN noted that of the 10 states in the country with the highest percentage of Catholics, Obama has only won one state overall, Connecticut.

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