The myth of the Catholic vote: the influence of ideology and theology on Catholics in presidential elections, 1972-2008

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Authors
Davison, Daniel L.
Krassa, Michael A.
Issue Date
2011
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Journal Article
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Abstract
Is there a distinctive Catholic vote? Opinions range from the view that Catholics are predisposed to the Democratic Party to the position that they are classic centrists indistinguishable from other voters in the United States. Instead, we believe the measure of Catholic religious distinctiveness is its responsiveness to the social teachings of the Church. We evaluate the impacts of three issues included in Catholic social teaching regarding the consistent ethic of life � abortion, the death penalty, and the preferential option for the poor � on the political behavior of Catholics. Unlike other analyses that predict Catholic attitudes by individual-level characteristics, we are interested in knowing how issues important to the Church's social teachings influence members' political behavior. The positions of the Republican and Democratic parties on these issues pose conflicting pressures for Catholic voters. Herein lies the Catholic distinctiveness. Catholics use a mix of values, both secular and religious, to help them decide how to vote. The impact of these issues consistently pushes and pulls Catholics in the direction of the party position predicted by Catholic social teaching and is reinforced by age and regular mass attendance. We find that the contemporary Catholic vote is pluralistic but also sensitive to the expectations associated with fabric of life issues. Consistent advocacy of life issues by the Catholic Church has influenced the attitudes and political behavior of some Catholics.
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Davison, Daniel L. and Krassa, Michael A. (2011), The myth of the Catholic vote: the influence of ideology and theology on Catholics in presidential elections, 1972-2008. Journal of Religion & Society, 13.
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Rabbi Myer and Dorothy Kripke Center, Creighton University
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The journal is open-access and freely allows users to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of all published material for personal or academic purposes.
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1522-5658
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