A poll released this week has found that Catholics from both major political parties said they want candidates to support religious freedom and oppose taxpayer funding of abortion, while they identified the economy and the coronavirus pandemic as major concerns leading up to the election.
The poll found that Catholic likely voters, divided mostly along party lines, favor the election of Joe Biden over President Donald Trump. Biden's lead among Catholic voters narrowed in several swing states, and among Catholics who attend Mass weekly.
Overall, 78% said they were more likely to support candidates who protect religious freedom for people of faith. This included majorities of both men and women, as well as majorities of Republicans, Democrats, and Independents, and majorities of every age range, geographic region, and race surveyed.
At least 3 in 4 Catholics – regardless of how frequently they attend Mass – said that they are more likely to favor candidates who support religious freedom.
Conducted Oct. 5-11 by RealClear Opinion Research in partnership with EWTN News, the poll surveyed 1,490 likely voters who self-identify as Catholic.
Asked about the upcoming presidential election, respondents overall favored Biden over Trump 52% to 40%. These numbers are virtually unchanged from a previous poll conducted by RealClear Opinion Research in partnership with EWTN News in late August and early September.
In the October poll, 90% of Republican respondents favored Trump, and 92% of Democratic respondents favored Biden. Independents preferred Biden over Trump 44%-34%, with 23% saying they are undecided.
The gap between the candidates narrows significantly in the swing states of Arizona, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. In those states Biden leads by four points (48% to 44%), which is within the poll’s margin of error.
Among weekly Mass attendees, Biden’s lead in the poll narrows to six points, 48%-42%.
Catholic likely voters who say they accept everything the Church teaches told pollsters they are more likely to vote for Trump over Biden 56%-38%, the poll found.
Catholics who say they believe all of the Church’s teachings also prefer Trump’s policies, 55%-39%. Among all Catholic voters, however, Biden outpaces Trump when it comes to the preference of a candidate’s policies; 53% of Catholic likely voters prefer Biden’s policies, while 41% prefer Trump’s and 5% “don’t know.”
Biden also outperforms Trump on the question of temperament; one-third of Catholics polled said they preferred Trump’s temperament, with almost 6 in 10 saying that they preferred Biden’s temperament. Female Catholic voters and Hispanic Catholics said they preferred Biden’s temperament by a 33-point margin and a 52-point margin, respectively.
On the question of temperament, those who say they accept everything the Church teaches prefer Trump by one point.
When considering issues in light of the upcoming presidential election, 95% of respondents said they are concerned about the economy, and 92% said they are concerned about health care.
In addition, 89% said the coronavirus pandemic concerns them, 83% said the same about civil unrest, 81% about Supreme Court appointments and 77% about race relations. Abortion and religious freedom were each listed as an issue of concern by 66% of respondents.
A majority of respondents said the following were major concerns: economy and jobs (73%), coronavirus (68%), health care (67%) and civil unrest (53%).
Sixty percent said they are less likely to support a candidate who supports abortion at any time in a pregnancy, while 28% said they are more likely to support such a candidate.
Fifty-two percent said they are less likely to support a candidate who favors taxpayer funding of abortion in the U.S., compared to 34% who said they would be more likely to support such a candidate.
Women showed more opposition than men did to candidates supporting abortion throughout an entire pregnancy, as well as to taxpayer funding of abortion. Weekly Mass attendees showed more opposition to candidates holding these positions than less frequent Mass attendees did.
Respondents were more closely split on immigration, with 47% saying they would prefer a candidate who supports expanding immigration to the U.S., and 41% saying they are less likely to support a candidate who holds this position.
Younger Catholics are more likely to favor candidates who want to expand immigration than older Catholics are, and Hispanic respondents are more likely to favor these candidates than white or Black respondents are.
Asked their view on candidates who want to require Catholic organizations to provide insurance coverage including contraception and abortion, 38% said they are more likely to support such a candidate, while 42% said they are less likely. Twenty percent said they were unsure.
Forty-five percent of poll participants said they believe Roe v. Wade should be upheld, while 25% said it should be reversed and abortion should be ruled unconstitutional. Eighteen percent said the issue should be returned to the states, and 13% said they were unsure.
Men and women answered almost identically in their opinions on Roe v. Wade. Black respondents were about twice as likely to say abortion should be ruled unconstitutional as white and Hispanic respondents were.