New Poll: Biden’s Popularity Drops Among Catholics
NEWS ANALYSIS: In latest poll, a majority of Catholics disapprove of the president’s job performance, even as Catholics express serious concerns about gender ideology and attacks on churches and pregnancy centers.
WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden has lost ground among Catholics since the 2020 election, according to the findings of a new EWTN News/RealClear Opinion Research poll, and faces a lack of confidence among Catholics that his administration will be able to deal effectively with inflation over the next year.
The poll also found that a substantial majority of Catholics are less likely to support political candidates who support abortion until the time of birth.
The new poll of likely Catholic voters, taken immediately before the release of the Supreme Court’s June 24 Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health decision that overturned Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, is the first of three planned surveys of Catholics likely to vote in the upcoming midterm elections. It surveyed 1,757 likely Catholic voters on faith and political and public-policy issues. The poll has a confidence interval of 2.58 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. The poll was conducted online in English and in Spanish June 15-23, 2022.
According to the survey, Catholics overall view Biden unfavorably but are evenly split in their support of the Democrats and Republicans in Congress in the upcoming election. Among all Catholics, Biden has a favorable rate of 45% versus 53% unfavorable. In October 2020, according to the last EWTN/RealClear poll, he was supported by 52% of Catholics in his head-to-head race against Donald Trump. Former President Donald Trump currently has a slightly higher rating among Catholic voters, with a 49%-49% favorable versus unfavorable rating.
There is a very significant difference between the way white and non-white voters view Biden. His approval rating among white Catholics is 36%, but it is 59% among Hispanic Catholics and 72% among Black Catholics.
Looking at Mass attendance as a predictor of how Catholics are likely to vote, there is not a significant difference among weekly, monthly, and less-than-yearly attending Catholics in their view of the president, with his approval rating at 43% among weekly Catholics versus 46% for both of the other categories. His job-approval numbers are almost identical to his favorability, with Catholics overall giving him a 47% job approval versus 53% disapproval.
When it comes to the pressing issue of inflation, 89% of Catholics have had their finances impacted a great deal or to some degree. Catholic voters are evenly split on placing blame: 36% say Biden and his policies, and 33% say the war in Ukraine and the global COVID slowdown, while 25% say Biden’s policies and Ukraine/pandemic slowdown are equally to blame. A majority of white voters hold Biden responsible (45% Biden, 28% Ukraine/slowdown), while Hispanics are nearly twice as likely to blame Ukraine and the global slowdown caused by the pandemic (41%) than Biden (21%). Nevertheless, a majority (57%) of all Catholic voters do not have much or any confidence that the Biden administration can significantly reduce inflation in the next year.
Inflation is one of the largest looming issues in the upcoming midterm elections, and, right now, Catholic voters are evenly split between the parties, as 44% indicate support for the Republican candidate in their district, and 43% support the Democrat — with 13% unsure. There is, however, a difference among Catholic voters associated with how often they attend Mass. Weekly Mass attendees support the Republican candidate in their district by a margin of 47%-41%, while those who attend monthly or yearly are split 43%-42% Democrat, and those who attend less than yearly or never attend support the Democrat candidate 48%-40%.
While, as noted, the poll was taken in the week immediately before the Supreme Court released its Dobbs decision that sent the question of abortion back to the states, it found that the Supreme Court is the most favorably viewed federal institution, with an overall approval rate of 56% as opposed to 36% unfavorable.
On the major national policy debate over abortion law, the poll found a plurality of Catholics (47%-42%) favored upholding Roe v. Wade versus reversing the decision. However, 65% of all respondents acknowledged that abortion conflicts with Catholic teaching, and only 18% expressed the opinion that abortion should be available to a woman for any reason at any time during her pregnancy. In addition, 50% said abortion should be allowed only in cases of rape, incest or to save the mother’s life or should never be permitted at all; 24% thought it should be available during the first three months of pregnancy; 8% believe it should be available up to six months of pregnancy; and only 18% said it should be available at any time during pregnancy. On the question of parental consent for girls under the age of 18 for an abortion, 68% of Catholics believe this should be required.
The poll found that 60% of Catholics would be less likely to support a political candidate who supports abortion until birth, compared to only 32% who said this would make them more likely to support a candidate. As for other factors that impact how Catholics consider their upcoming vote for Congress, 68% of Catholics indicate that their faith is either very (37%) or somewhat (31%) important in their decision-making process. Faith is more important to midterm voters than race and ethnicity (56%), gender (57%), family background (61%) and age (63%). Only community (85%), political party (78%) and economic status (78%) are considered more important.
Catholics are also clear in that they are more likely to support a candidate who promotes religious freedom (82%) and increasing border security (74%).
Ideology and Schools
A massive majority of Catholics (90%) feel that parents of K-12 students should have more information about the curriculum and what their children are being taught in school, while 65% feel that parents of K-12 students should have greater say in their children’s school curriculum.
Regarding the issue of transgender ideology, the poll showed Catholics are split (47%-42% in favor) on the question of whether teachers and administrators should recognize a student’s gender identity in school rather than their “biological sex at birth,” but a substantial majority (63%) of Catholics agrees that gender is created by God, rather than determined by individuals (25%). And when gender ideology is defined — namely, that everyone can determine their own gender and that everyone else (individuals, laws and institutions) should be required to treat them as their chosen gender as opposed to their biological sex, 56% of Catholics agree that it conflicts with Church teaching.
Strong majorities of Catholics are opposed to biological boys competing against biological girls in sports (67%-22%), sharing bathrooms, locker rooms and showers (67%-23%), and having K-12 school administrators hide a student’s gender identity or a new name from that student’s parents (68%-20%).
Catholics are also worried about vandalization and attacks on churches (84%) and pro-life clinics (81%), tearing down statues of famous Catholics (75%), the overall anti-Christian sentiment in the country (72%), and protests outside the homes of Supreme Court justices (71%).