Pew Research: Biden in Trouble With Catholic Voters

Pew’s survey found that only 35% of Catholics hold a favorable view of Biden while 64% have an unfavorable view of the incumbent president.

President Joe Biden.
President Joe Biden. (photo: Ron Adar / Shutterstock)

Incumbent U.S. President Joe Biden, a Catholic, is battling a high unfavorability rating among his fellow Catholics, according to survey data released by the Pew Research Center.

According to the data, neither Biden nor his Republican rival, former president Donald Trump, are viewed favorably by a majority of Catholics surveyed, but Biden is the more unpopular of the two.

The findings were part of a presentation on “Religion and Politics Ahead of the U.S. Elections” by Pew’s associate director of research, Greg Smith, at the 2024 annual conference of the Religion News Association, which concluded over the weekend.

Included in the data provided by Smith, Pew’s late February survey of 12,000 U.S. adults found that only 35% of Catholics hold a favorable view of Biden while 64% have an unfavorable view of the incumbent president.

In contrast, this year’s presumptive Republican presidential nominee, Trump, is viewed favorably by 42% of Catholics, while 57% hold an unfavorable view of the former president.

Trump’s edge over Biden among Catholics is fueled by white Catholics, a majority of whom (54%) hold a favorable view of the former president. Trump is considerably less popular, however, with Hispanic Catholics, among whom only 32% view him favorably. 

As Pew reported earlier this month, the country’s population of 52 million Catholics constitute 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. Among American Catholics, 57% are white, while 33% are Hispanic, Pew reported.

Other Catholic-specific survey results highlighted by Smith included mounting Catholic preference for the Republican Party. Overall, 52% of American Catholics surveyed either identify as Republican or lean Republican. The number climbs to 61% among white Catholics.

Meanwhile, 35% of Hispanic Catholics align themselves along the Republican side of the political spectrum. The latest trendline for Republican affiliation by the Hispanic subset, however, is higher than the one observed among white Catholics, registering an uninterrupted uptick since 2020.

Perhaps most importantly, Pew’s data reveals a marked difference in political affiliation between Catholics who attend Mass at least monthly or more and those who do not.

Regardless of ethnicity, among all Catholics who attend Mass monthly or more often, 61% identify with the Republican Party or lean Republican. This includes a majority (67%) of both white Catholics and Hispanic Catholics (52%).

Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan organization that conducts public opinion polling, demographic research, and other social science research. It does not advocate for or against particular policy positions.

Pope Francis (R) embraces new Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich after he appointed him during an Ordinary Public Consistory for the creation of new cardinals on October 5, 2019 at St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican.

Pope Francis vs. Cardinal Hollerich

EDITORIAL: The Pope’s comments regarding women’s ordination in his interview with CBS put a damper on the movement to alter the Church’s teaching on the priesthood and diaconate.