The Catholic Church is one of the fastest-growing churches in the United States, and many pundits—including this one—are predicting that the Catholic vote will determine the outcome of the 2004 presidential race.
Writing in the current issue of Insight on the News, Peter Roff, a UPI senior political analyst, provides analysis of the Catholic vote from informed sources on both sides of the partisan divide.
Applied Research Consultant's Johnny Morgan provides demographic analysis to Republican candidates. He believes that in places where the Catholic vote is up for grabs, Kerry's doctrinal vulnerabilities could tip the balance in Bush's direction.
According to Morgan, the election will be won and lost in states such as Northeastern and Midwest states such as Iowa, Missouri, New Hampshire, Ohio, and Wisconsin—states with considerable numbers of Catholic voters, many of whom take a more traditional approach to church doctrine and who may look at Kerry's record on faith issues in his professional and personal life in deciding how to vote. As Morgan puts it:
Rural Catholics in Iowa, Wisconsin, and Missouri tend to be Democrats by registration but place high value on their Catholic faith. Kerry's position on abortion and a move to take Communion in defiance of a bishop's order could be a significant factor in pushing these voters out of the Kerry column.
Donna Brazile, who ran Al Gore's 2000 presidential campaign, agrees with Morgan that Catholics "are a very important vote."
Brazile, who is Catholic, said that Kerry would do best to ignore the two issues currently causing him trouble and focus on "the compassionate issues." "I think Gore did very well among these Catholics," she said, suggesting that Kerry appeal to them with arguments about economic justice rather than social issues such as marriage and abortion.
Once again, we see the "seamless garment" card being played to trump fidelity to the faith. Whether it wins the game remains to be seen. The stakes are high.
Ongoing commentary by the editors of CatholicKerryWatch
Sen. John Kerry stands with Kate Michelman (right) President of NARAL Pro-Choice America.
Since 1995, Michelman's group has given Kerry a 100% rating for his voting record to defend abortion.