Silence about Obama, Catholic vote


Demography is destiny. For the most part, this apothegm has defined this year's Democratic presidential election results. It sure characterized last night's results in Indiana and North Carolina. As Christi Parsons and Mike Dorning, my old colleague at The Chicago Tribune, wrote,

Blacks, young people and college-educated voters overwhelmingly favored Obama, while white working-class voters, seniors and white women lined up decisively behind Clinton, a division in the Democratic Party that now appears impervious to gaffes, attacks and multimillion-dollar ad buys. The results followed each state's demographic makeup.

Yet one voting group has been a demographic outlier: Catholics. In several states, Catholics have flitted between Obama and Clinton. True, Catholics have been a constituency of Hillary Clinton's overall, but they have gone for Obama. As Eve Conant and Richard Wolffe of Newsweekpoint out,

Obama beat Hillary Clinton among Catholics in Louisiana and Virginia and tied her in Wisconsin. But in more recent primaries, Catholics have decisively turned away from him. In Ohio, exit polls showed that 65 percent backed Clinton. In Pennsylvania, Clinton won 70 percent of the Catholic vote.

What's going on here? "The short answer is, I don't know," says [former Rep. Tim] Roemer, who has spent hours quizzing Catholics at rallies and town-hall meetings. One possibility: Obama's ties to the Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr. Roemer says that, like other voters, the Catholics he meets mostly want to talk about what the candidate will do about the economy, gas prices and the mess in Iraq.

In search of an answer to the question, I scoured stories from the nation's major newspapers. Here is what I found: nothing. The Washington Post had nothing on the Catholic vote, let alone the religious vote. The New York Times had nothing. The Tribune had nothing. You know what a whole lot of nothing adds up to, right?

Maybe reporters think that they wrote too many stories about the Catholic vote in Pennsylvania, but that excuse is weak. Almost one-fifth of Indiana were Catholic.

I just think that the absence of coverage about Catholic voters is unjustified. I mean, Democratic operatives refer to Catholic voters, as the Tribune noted:

"Senator Clinton continues to run very strongly among people who are likely to be the swing voters in the November election--among moderate-income voters, blue collar voters, non-college educated voters, seniors, Catholics--and we think the results last night strengthen the case that she will be the strongest candidate for the Democratic Party in November," [Geoff] Garin said.

With MSM reporters ignoring this angle, I refer readers to Dan Gilgoff's Web site at Beliefnet. Here is a man doing reporting about the Catholic vote.

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