This just in from Jesuit Thomas J. Reese, senior fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center and former editor of America magazine.
Up through Super Tuesday, Catholic voters were strong supporters of Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primaries. The Catholic vote helped her win in New Hampshire, New York, New Jersey, California, Connecticut, and New Mexico. In these states she won the Catholic vote by 15 to 40 percentage points. On Super Tuesday, she only lost the Catholic vote in Missouri and Georgia. If she had won the Catholic vote in Missouri, she would have won the state.
Experts are divided on why Catholics voted for Hillary. Most scholars believe that once the number crunchers get a hold of the exit poll data and control for income, gender, age, education and issue concerns, the “Catholic factor” will disappear. For example, in New Hampshire Catholics tend to be working-class ethnics, while in California, many are Hispanic.
Some wonder if this could be a case of Catholic racism, or is it a case of Catholic feminism? Most studies show, however, that white Catholics are more liberal than white Protestants.
Another theory is that Catholics are uncomfortable with the evangelical rhetorical style of Obama’s speeches. Interestingly, Catholic Republicans rejected Huckabee and voted for McCain. He only lost the Catholic vote in Romney’s home states, Massachusetts and Michigan, and in Georgia. Catholics helped McCain get the nomination.