Yesterday, according to the exit polls, between 53 and 54% of American Catholic voters cast their ballots for Barack Obama, despite the Democratic candidate's enthusiastic support for unrestricted legal abortion. Nationwide, Protestant voters supported John McCain, by a solid 54- 45% margin. But the Catholic vote broke for Obama. Why?
Earlier this week the US Conference of Catholic Bishops released a helpful listing of the 50 American states, with the proportion of population in each state. In 7 states, Catholics make up more than 30% of the population. Obama captured all 7 of those states on Election Day. In 8 states, Catholics account for less than 5% of the population. Seven of those states swung for McCain, and the 8th, North Carolina, is still listed as "too close to call" as I write this analysis.
To be sure, America's Catholic population is heavily concentrated in states that have a liberal political tilt. But is that a coincidence? Are those states hotbeds of liberalism despite the heavy Catholic presence, or because of it?