Poll Finds Catholics Divided by Race and Party in 2020 Election

The numbers Pew Research found in the July and August 2020 survey are comparable to how white and Hispanic Catholics voted in the 2016 presidential election.

President Donald Trump.
President Donald Trump. (photo: Shutterstock)

WASHINGTON — A new Pew Research poll shows white and Hispanic Catholics split over who they will vote for in the 2020 presidential elections. 

According to a survey of 11,001 American adults conducted in July and August, released August 13, Pew found clear differences among racial groups within religious denominations over who they supported in the upcoming presidential election. 

Pew found that registered voters who identify as white Catholics planned to support President Donald Trump by a margin of 19 points; 59% to 40%. Of those survey respondents who said they were supporting Trump in November, 42% said they “strongly” favored Trump. Only half of Joe Biden’s white Catholic supporters said they were “strongly” supporting the former vice president. 

The margin of error for the survey of white Catholics was listed as +/- 4 percentage points. 

Conversely, among registered voters who identified as Hispanic Catholics, only 33% said they were supporting Trump, with 20% of those saying they “strongly” supported the president’s reelection. Sixty-five percent of Hispanic Catholics surveyed said they supported Biden, with 23% of those saying that they “strongly” supported the candidate. 

The margin of error for the survey of Hispanic Catholics was listed as +/- 6.4 points, meaning that as many as 39% of Hispanic Catholics or as few as 26% of Hispanic Catholics support Trump. 

There was no breakdown provided for Catholics of all ethnicities as a single group in the 2020 survey.

White and Hispanic Catholics have historically voted for different political parties in presidential elections. The majority of white Catholics have voted for the Republican candidate for the past four election cycles, and the majority of Hispanic Catholics have voted for the Democratic candidate for the past four presidential elections.

The numbers Pew found in the July and August 2020 survey are comparable to how white and Hispanic Catholics voted in the 2016 presidential election. 

In 2016, Trump won the overall Catholic vote, marking the first time since 2004 that a Republican candidate won Catholics. Trump received 52% of the Catholic vote, and Hillary Clinton won 45% of the Catholic vote, a drop of 5 points compared to the 2012 election. 

White Catholics split 60 to 37 for Trump in 2016, compared to 59 to 40 for Romney in 2012. Hispanic Catholics were the opposite: 67% of Hispanic Catholics voted for Clinton, compared to 26% for Trump. In 2012, 75% of Hispanic Catholics voted for Obama. 

Among all faith groups surveyed by Pew in 2016, Hispanic Catholics had the highest percentage switch in which party they supported for president. Democrats experienced an eight-point drop in the Hispanic Catholic vote in 2016 compared to 2012. 

Pew found in 2020 that white evangelical and non-evangelical Protestant registered voters were supporting Trump by a wide margin--83% of white evangelical Protestants and 59% of white non-evangelical Protestants said they support Trump. 

Among black Protestants, 92% said they support Biden compared to 5% for Trump, the highest percentage gap among any religious group.