Tom McFeely is the National Catholic Register’s News Editor. He lives in British Columbia.
A new Gallup Poll has found that an average of 67% of Catholics have been supportive of President Barack Obama during the first 100 days of his presidency.
No surprise there: This is the honeymoon phase of the Obama pesidency, during which most Americans of all religions — and of none — have been generally supportive.
But what about Catholics who take their faith seriously enough to attend Mass each week? (In other words, serious enough to fulfill a basic requirement of Catholic worship.)
Among these Catholics, the situation is more complex. Here too Gallup found a strong majority has been supportive of Obama — again, in keeping with the optimistic welcome Americans extend to every new occupant of the Oval Office.
Obama’s support among weekly Massgoers, on the other hand, has been lower than among Catholics who don’t take their faith seriously enough to show up in church weekly. (In other words, not very seriously).
And a close look at the most recent findings of the Gallup graph that is posted with this Daily Blog entry indicates approval for Obama is visibly eroding among Catholics who attend Mass weekly. In late April, while his approval rating rose among inactive Catholics, it slumped among weekly Massgoers.
This trend of eroding Catholic support was more pronounced in a Pew Research Center poll that was conducted earlier in the honeymoon period. That survey found that between February and March, Obama’s disapproval rating among all Catholics had climbed from 14% to 28%. Among white non-Hispanic Catholics, it jumped from 20% to 41%.
None of these figures are likely to give Obama much cause to question the wisdom of changing his position on any of his policies, particularly his support of abortion, that are responsible for alienating a substantial chunk of the Catholic vote. At least not so long as his overall approval rating remains at a lofty 67% of Catholics, at least.
However, once the presidential honeymoon period ends — as it always does — Obama could find that his popularity with Catholic voters has been permanently compromised.