Is the Catholic Church campaign pushing female voters to Obama/Biden?

Less than two weeks until election day! Aren’t you glad it’s almost over? That seems to be the sentiment at this point.

A female voter heads to the polls in Oklahoma City in this Associated Press photo.

Interesting news reported this morning by the Religion News Service. It seems that for the first time since 1960, the gender gap is wider than the so-called “God gap.” To put it in layman’s terms, women are disagreeing with men at a higher rate than churchgoers disagree with non-churchgoers.

A new Hartford Courant/UConn poll finds that frequent attenders prefer the GOP ticket (Romney/Ryan) by 51 percent to 43 percent. That’s down by one-third from the 55-43 margin for the GOP (McCain/Pain) in 2008.

The occasional attenders preferred Obama/Biden 57-42 four years ago. That margin has now been cut by nearly two-thirds, to 49-43. Those who never go to church strongly prefer Obama/Biden, but by a modestly smaller margin than in 2008: 61-31 compared to 67-30.

In 2008, women preferred the Democratic ticket to the Republican one by 13 points; the Courant/UConn poll show that gap now running at 17 points. In 2008, men preferred the Democratic ticket by a single point; they are now going Republican by 12 points.

As the RNS notes, the differential between the two gaps was 12 points in 2008; it’s now running at 29 points.

I find this interesting since I am working on a story about religion and politics for next week. My story focuses on the political stance various denominations are taking in this election.

For example, some Episcopalian and UCC congregations are telling me they are very hands-off when it comes to politics.

Meanwhile, the Catholic Church will come out with a voter’s guide Friday that assesses all the races. I am expecting the guide will be decidedly pro-Republican.

“In the Catholic Tradition, responsible citizenship is a virtue, and participation in political life is a moral obligation,” said Joe Aponick, spokesman for the Harrisburg Diocese.

Interesting that the Courant/UConn poll shows the GOP losing four points among regular attenders and the Democratic ticket gaining four points among women.

Now consider the issues the Catholic Church have pushed during this campaign: contraception and reproductive rights.

It might be a stretch to say all the regular church attenders who have left the Republican Party are women, but I am guessing that plenty of them are.

It’s made for an interesting race and one that might turn on the gender and God gaps among voters.

About John Hilton

I grew up in Susquehanna County, Pa. and graduated Syracuse University with a dual degree in journalism/political science in 1998. After working for nearly three years for a weekly paper in upstate New York, I came to southcentral Pennsylvania. I spent 13 years as a reporter and editor for The Sentinel in Carlisle and joined the York Daily Record as religion reporter in September 2011.
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