Obama’s Catholic Problem

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Just about everywhere Obama fared poorly with Catholics on Super Tuesday. In heavily Irish Catholic New England, the margins were big. Likewise in the more mixed ethnic Catholicism of the Middle Atlantic States. In California, where Latinos dominate the Catholic population, even worse. (Not quite so bad in New Mexico and Arizona.) Even in his home state of Illinois, where Obama won big, he lost the Catholic vote to Clinton by a few percentage points. The exception was in Missouri, where he polled better with Catholics than with Protestants. So what’s the problem? Does it have to do with class and ethnicity–as white working- and lower-middle-class Catholics in the Northeast and metropolitan Chicago, Latinos in the Southwest? Or is there something in Obama’s Black Protestant style–his political revivalism–that just doesn’t compute very well with Catholics? One way to tell would be to get a cross tab that showed how Latino Protestants voted.