Mitt Romney’s tapping of Cardinal Timothy Dolan to deliver the closing prayer at the Republican National Convention is a sign of a strong push by the GOP to woo the Roman Catholic vote it lost last time around.
In 2008, Democrats won the Catholic vote by nine percentage points, with help from President Barack Obama’s running mate Joe Biden, who is Catholic. This time, Republicans also have a Catholic in the number two spot —Rep. Paul Ryan.
Catholics make up about a quarter of the electorate and the Catholic vote is generally a bellwether that mirrors the general electorate.
With Obama’s embrace of same-sex marriage and his fight against the church's bishops over a requirement that schools and hospitals must provide coverage for birth control in their health insurance plans, the Republicans have a chance for a different outcome, The New York Times
Romney has courted Dolan since April, the Times reported, meeting with him privately at the chancery across from St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City.
“We’re going to have outreach to Catholics in a coordinated, organized effort — state by state, diocese by diocese, parish by parish and pew by pew,” Peter Flaherty, a senior adviser to the Romney campaign, told the Times. Flaherty, who is Catholic, served as Romney’s liaison to the religious community when he was governor of Massachusetts.
A recent Gallup poll shows Romney with a slight edge among Catholics.
“Since 1972, the candidate who has won the Catholic vote has won the popular vote as well,” Robert Jones, chief executive and founder of the Public Religion Research Institute in Washington, told the Times. “The Catholic vote does tend to be on the side of the winning candidate. It’s the quintessential religious swing group.”
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