Now that we know it will be Mitt Romney challenging Barack Obama for the presidency this November, get ready for endless analysis of voters' thoughts in the remaining six months before the election. And of course religion will be among the many angles pollsters explore in trying to guess who will win on Election Day.
Case in point: A new poll released today by Gallup contains some interesting findings about the preferences of religious voters. Most notable is the fact that Catholic voters polled by Gallup still favor Obama over Romney by a 51-45 margin.
The poll also finds that voters who consider themselves "very religious," meaning that religion figures prominently into their daily lives, are more likely to support Romney. Among Catholics, the "very religious" voters prefer Romney by a slim 50-46 margin. Obama still leads among "moderately religious Catholics," 55-42, and "nonreligious Catholics" (which I assume are those who are Catholic in name only and do not practice the faith), 55-40.
It seems interesting that with all the claims that President Obama has waged war on the Catholic Church and is attacking religious freedom, even devout, practicing Catholics are still fairly evenly split on how they'll vote. The 51 percent support for Obama among all Catholics is only a slight drop from 2008, when he carried 54 percent of the Catholic vote, and is still higher than the percentage of Catholics who voted for John Kerry in 2004 (47 percent) or Al Gore in 2000 (50 percent).
Surely there will be some Catholics in both parties who claim that anyone who votes for the opposing party's candidate can't call themselves Catholic. And indeed, both candidates have earned their fair share of criticism from Catholics on a variety of issues of importance to the faithful. And as November draws closer, we'll hear plenty of arguments from both parties–and from voices within the Catholic Church–trying to swing voters to the other side before they cast their ballots.