A solid chunk of 2012, at least in the theological and political realms, was spent talking about the "War on Religion," which subsequently -- following a spat between radio host Rush Limbaugh and Sandra Fluke -- evolved into the "War on Women." At the center of the contention in both ideological battles, of course, was the Obama administration's controversial contraceptive mandate.
The Catholic Church, infuriated over the notion that the government would force associated organizations to violate conscience by providing employees with birth control free-of-charge, launched into a nation-side campaign against the provision. Despite a concerted effort on the part of Catholics and evangelicals, alike, to expose the issue as government intrusion on personal and institutional religious liberty, on Tuesday, President Barack Obama still won the majority of the U.S. Catholic vote.
U.S. President Barack Obama returns to the White House after winning reelection, on November 7, 2012 in Washington, DC. With 303 electoral votes, President Obama claimed a clear victory over Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. Credit: Getty Images
Exit polls from the highly-contentious 2012 presidential race show that Obama captured 50 percent of this coveted cohort, with Romney taking 48 percent of adherents. In the end, it was close -- but the results likely weren't what some conservative Catholics hoped they would be.
While some may wonder why gauging Catholics at the polls is important, as Irish Central notes, since 1972, the majority (or largest proportion) of this cohort has gone with the winning presidential candidate (at least based on popular vote); now, that pattern continues.
To just note a few past examples: Ronald Reagan won 50 percent of the Catholic vote in 1980, with Jimmy Carter getting only 42 percent. In 2000, Al Gore won 50 percent of the Catholic vote versus Bush taking just 46 percent (this election was a bit of an anomaly, of course). And in 2004, Bush won 52 percent of the vote, with John Kerry taking 47 percent.
It's important to note that we don't have extensive breakdowns of some key elements that would tell us who these Catholic voters this election cycle were, meaning -- were they lapsed or practicing? What were their ethnicities? These are important elements to note, as intervening factors also play a role, beyond religious adherence, in deciding whom one will vote for.
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While LifeSiteNews notes that Catholic support for Obama decreased by five percent when compared to 2008, the down-tick was nowhere near enough to give Romney the upper-hand. As stated, digging deeper into these proportions would provide some fascinating insights. Despite CNN's data not providing more details about church attendance, ethnicity and other factors, FOX News' does dig a tad bit deeper on the these indicators.
Catholics, overall, chose Obama, but a breakdown of church attendance shows that, the majority of adherents who attend church regularly actually selected Romney (remember: among those not attending, we don't know who is and is not considered "lapsed").
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Catholics who report attending church weekly voted for Romney over Obama 57 percent to 42 percent. But -- those believers who do not attend weekly yielded an inverse pattern, choosing the president over the Republican contender (56 percent to 42 percent). As for Protestants, 70 percent of those who attend church weekly chose Romney (and 55 percent of those who don't attend weekly still selected the GOP candidate).
Race, too, plays a factor. Fifty-nine percent of white Catholics chose the Republican candidate, with only 40 percent selecting Obama. While exact proportions for non-Caucasian Catholics are not readily available, it's likely that the majority of them, instead, voted for Obama. After all, 80 percent of non-white religious people (not necessarily Catholic, but religious on the whole) chose Obama over Romney.
CatholicCulture.org notes some of the other important religion break-downs (based on CNN exit polls) that do not pertain to the Catholic vote. As stated, Protestants showed up in favor of Romney. But non-believing Americans -- a growing portion of the electorate -- chose Obama by a wide margin: 70 percent versus 26 percent.
On the whole, those attending church weekly selected the Republican over Obama 59 percent to 29 percent. Non-church goers (people who never attend, but who may not necessarily be atheists or agnostics) selected Obama (62 percent versus 24 percent).
Considering that the Catholic Church organized a monumental, nation-wide campaign information geared at letting adherents know about the contraceptive mandate (TheBlaze extensively covered the "Fortnight for Freedom" initiative"), these electoral results may be surprising. However, the Catholic vote is sometimes a close call when it comes to choosing presidential candidates -- and this year was no exception.
The results of the 2012 election are still setting in for Catholics, Protestants and non-believers, alike. Judging from the faith-based issues that dominated headlines, though, it's likely that religious peoples, especially Catholics, will be thinking through more viable ways to reach adherents (particularly those who do not attend church weekly) in order to get them better synced up with the issues.