Harry Reid Among the Catholics Who Vote
By Deal Hudson
Recent polling shows the religiously active Catholic vote is trending strongly toward the GOP. Gary Andres summarizes the findings by commenting:
“While Republicans lost among Catholics in 2006 by 11-points and 13-points in 2008, they now hold a 7-point lead (39%-32%) among Catholics in general. Republicans also lead among Catholics who attend church once a week or more by 12 points.”
These numbers look back to the results of the 2004 presidential election when George W. Bush crushed the Catholic candidate, Sen. John Kerry, by 5% among all self-identified Catholics and by nearly 20% among Catholics attending Mass at least once a week.
This spells trouble for Sen. Harry Reid, Senate Majority Leader, in his race against Sharron Angle. Of the 78% of Nevada citizens who call themselves Christian, over half, 44%, are Roman Catholic. Catholics are the largest religious group in Nevada at 27% with Evangelicals at 13%. Catholic voters make more of a difference in Nevada than most other states. (Mormons who usually vote with other social conservatives are 13% of the population.)
Elections over the past 30 years have shown that when the religiously active voter is aroused then pro-abortion, socially liberal politicians like Reid become vulnerable. There is a strong correlation between both Catholics and Protestants who attend church regularly, or have children at home, with strong concern about a candidate’s position on social issues.
There is a long list of reasons why Catholic voters who care about the defense of life would vote against Senator Harry Reid. Here are just some of his votes over many years:
- Reid voted “NO” to allowing Senate consideration of a partial birth abortion ban. Roll Call Vote #332 – 10/20/1999.
- Reid voted “NO” on the motion to table the substitute amendment that would have weakened a proposed partial birth abortion ban. Roll Call Vote #335 - 10/20/1999.
- Reid voted “NO” to requiring anyone receiving fetal tissue as a result of an abortion to disclose information about it. Roll Call Vote #338 – 10/21/1999.
- Reid voted “NO” to barring funds for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) unless they have stopped activity in China or unless China no longer performs coerced abortions.
Roll Call Vote #456 – 9/21/1995.
- Reid voted “YES” to removing the Mexico City Policy language to the House version of a bill, which would require all groups receiving federal funding for overseas development from performing or promoting abortion. Roll Call Vote #561 – 11/1/1995.
- Reid voted “YES” to tabling legislation barring federal funding for UNFPA unless it shuts down operations in China. Roll Call Vote #575 – 11/15/1995.
Catholics who understand the proper priority the life issues should have in their political participation will find Reid completely unacceptable compared to his opponent Sharron Engle who has been judged to be 100% pro-life by the Susan B. Anthony List and National Right to Life.
The aspect of the Catholic vote that Angle and her advisors should concern themselves about is Latino Catholics. Latinos constituted 15% of the Nevada vote in the 2008 presidential election, up from 10% in 2004. 76% of Latinos in Nevada voted for Candidate Obama in 2008.
The danger for Angle and the GOP, as Michael Sean Winters has pointed out, is that Angle’s strong push against immigration reform will also push the Latino vote strongly toward the incumbent. Indeed, pro-abortion Catholics in the Congress, like Representative Linda Sanchez (D, CA-39), have been stumping for Reid among Latino voters.
Latino voters are often described as natural social conservatives, which may have accounted for the strong support of George W. Bush in 2004, but the immigration debates of 2005 cooled their ardor towards the GOP.
Angle’s solid pro-life position should win her a majority of non-Hispanic Catholic voters. But the Latino Catholic vote may remain wedded to immigration reform for the near future regardless of Senator Harry Reid’s dismissive attitude towards protecting the unborn.
Deal Hudson is President of Catholic Advocate.