EWTN News Poll Results: Biden’s Popularity Among Catholic Voters Plummets
In the latest poll, most Catholics feel that President Joe Biden, the nation’s second Catholic president, should not run for a second term in 2024.
WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden continues to face challenges in galvanizing support among Catholic voters as the country prepares for the 2022 midterm elections, according to the findings of a new EWTN News/RealClear Opinion Research poll, even as the president increasingly struggles with Hispanic Catholics and as Catholic voters rank inflation and the economy as the most critical issues facing the country.
The second of three EWTN News/RealClear Opinion Research polls planned for the 2022 election, surveying 1,581 Catholic voters, was conducted from Sept. 12 to 19. The poll has a margin of error of 2.5%.
When asked how they feel Biden is handling his job as president, nearly 52% of Catholic voters said they either disapproved (5%) or strongly disapproved (47%); 46% either approved (32%) or strongly approved (14%).
Notably, the strong disapproval number was significantly higher than strong approval. Only 2% of voters had no opinion.
A majority of Catholics (58%) feel that Biden should not run for a second term in 2024, while only 22% support a possible bid for reelection; 19% of Catholics are not sure.
The president’s challenges may also be reflected in the fact that the poll found Democrats trailing Republicans by four points in the race for control of Congress in the 2022 midterms on Nov. 8. When asked if they would vote for a Democrat or Republican candidate, almost 49% of Catholics would vote for the Republican candidate, while 45% would choose the Democrat, with the rest not sure.
The well-documented gulf that exists between frequent-Mass-attending Catholics and those who attend only yearly or never remains in this latest poll. Among Catholics who attend Mass once a week or more often, 75% say they would vote for the Republican candidate, while 54% of those who attend a few times a year or less would vote for the Democrat candidate.
On the major issue of abortion, the poll of Catholic voters, taken after 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, found that Catholics remain very divided, even as a massive majority (87%) wants some level of restriction on abortion. Surveyed on whether they agree or disagree with the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, Catholic voters are almost evenly split, with 48% saying that abortion should be a federally protected right and 46% saying each state should determine its own abortion policy; 6% were not sure. Still, 13% of Catholics say abortion should be available to a woman at any time she wants one during her entire pregnancy, while 8% say that abortion should never be permitted under any circumstance.
Overall, most Catholics favor limits, ranging from abortion should be allowed only in cases of rape, incest or to save the life of the mother (27%); until 15 weeks, when the baby can feel pain (20%); only during the first six months of pregnancy (13%); until a heartbeat can be detected (10%); or only to save the life of the mother (9%).
Catholics are similarly divided on whether they would be more or less likely to support a candidate who agrees with the overturn of Roe v. Wade, with 42% saying they would be more likely and 42% saying they would be less likely; and 16% not sure.
On the recent controversy surrounding pregnancy resource centers, some 67% of Catholic voters support public funding for pregnancy resource centers, where pregnant women can seek help with alternatives to abortion, while 18% are opposed and the remainder not sure. Likewise, 62% say that political and Church leaders should be speaking out against the recent attacks and acts of vandalism on pregnancy resource centers, compared to 15% who say they should not and another 23% who are not sure.
Other Leading Issues
Abortion, however, is not the most important issue to Catholic voters as they look to the midterms. While a major element of Democrat campaign messaging for the 2022 midterm election, abortion trails significantly behind other issues, including inflation and the economy, as most important. Only 10% of Catholics say abortion is the most important issue facing the nation — tied with immigration, while 34% say inflation and another nearly 20% say the economy/jobs.
As with most Americans, Catholics are feeling the impact of inflation. Asked how much their personal finances have been affected by rising prices and inflation, 81% of Catholic voters say that inflation has impacted them a great deal (42%) or some (39%), while only 19% say not much (15%) or not at all (nearly 4%). A plurality (41%) place the blame for inflation on Joe Biden and his administration, while nearly 32% blame it on the global slowdown due to COVID-19; slightly more than 9% attribute it to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and 17% say all of the above or they don’t know.
As for the Inflation Reduction Act, recently signed by the president, Catholics express a lack of confidence that it will reduce inflation. A majority of Catholics (54%) say they don’t have much or any confidence that it will reduce inflation, while 37% say they have a great deal or some confidence, and the rest are not sure.
One potentially significant development that the poll found was a decline in support for the president and Democrats in general among Hispanic Catholics — traditionally a reliable Democrat voting bloc. When asked how they feel Biden is handling his job as president, 50% of Hispanic Catholics say they strongly approve (11%) or approve (39%), while nearly 47% say they either disapprove (7%) or strongly disapprove (40%). Biden’s numbers among White Catholics are much worse, with 54% strongly disapproving (51%) or disapproving (4%), compared to 44%, who either strongly approve (16%) or approve (28%). Among African American Catholics, he enjoys a very high approval rate of 90%, with 12% approving strongly and 78% approving. The first EWTN/RealClear poll in July found that Biden’s approval rating among White Catholics was 36%, 59% among Hispanic Catholics and 72% among Black Catholics.
As for whether he should run for reelection, the president is facing a steep electoral hill. Only 17% of White Catholics think he should run, while 62% say he should not. Among Hispanic Catholics, only 28% say he should run, and 53% say he should not. Almost all African American Catholics (94%) think he should run again.
In terms of the race for Congress, 51% of White Catholics would vote for the Republican candidate, while 44% would vote for the Democrat. Among Hispanics, the Democrats have a small lead over Republicans, 45%-44%, with the rest undecided. Meanwhile, more than 90% of Black Catholics support the Democrats, while around 10% support Republicans.
In July, Catholic voters were evenly split between the parties, as 44% indicated support for the Republican candidate in their district and 43% indicated support for the Democrat — with 13% unsure.
One other area of concern to Catholics is that of education, especially in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdowns that impacted schools across the country. Three-quarters of Catholics said they are concerned about a “COVID deficit” in schoolchildren that has caused them to have lost significant intellectual and social development; around 17% said they were not concerned, and 10% said they were not sure.
A majority of Catholics (nearly 78%) either strongly support (47%) or support (21%) school choice, a policy that allows public education funds to follow students to the schools or services that best fit their needs, including a public school, private school, charter school, home school, parochial school or any other learning environment a family might choose; 26% either strongly oppose (17%) or oppose (9%) school choice. Majorities of Catholics also support parents of K-12 students helping determine what is being taught in schools (64%-31%); oppose biological boys who identify as girls competing against biological girls on school sports teams (76%-14%); and oppose introducing critical race theory (CRT) into the classroom (60%-29%).
Finally, when asked about their Mass attendance post-COVID, only 1% of Catholics attend daily, 7% attend more than once a week, 24% once a week, 10% once or twice a month, 26% a few times a year, 5% once a year and 26% less than once a year or never. The poor numbers for Mass attendance reflect the same crisis in the Church regarding belief in the Real Presence of the Eucharist. As found also in the last poll, 50% of Catholics believe that the transformed bread and wine are the Body and Blood of Christ, while 40% say the bread and wine are symbols of the body and blood of Christ; almost 10% say they are not sure. At the same time, only 26% of Catholics go to confession at least monthly or yearly, while 50% never go.
The third and final EWTN News/RealClear poll will focus on the Catholic vote in the days just before the midterms.
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