The Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University is reporting that in their recent polling of registered voters who identified themselves as Catholics in national polls last week, 47 percent say they are supporting the president while 45 percent say they're planning to vote for Mitt Romney - numbers that are well within the margin of error.
However, it is important to note that the president tends to lead in most polls of registered voters while Gov. Romney typically leads among polls that survey likely voters.
CARA reports that nothing much has changed in the Catholic vote since the beginning of the year in spite of the imposition of the HHS mandate which would forced Catholic employers to buy insurance that covers birth control, abortifacients and sterilizations, a rule that the U.S. bishops call a direct assault on religious freedom in America. Since January, President Obama has averaged 47 percent support among registered Catholics and Gov. Romney has averaged 46 percent - which is a statistical dead-heat.
"Rarely has either candidate measured at or above 50 percent," Cara reports. "A small percentage of registered Catholics remain undecided. These are the potential voters who will likely sway the "Catholic vote" one way or the other. As it is often noted, the preferences of Catholics are often correlated with the overall popular vote (not too much of a surprise as one in four voters are Catholic).
Over the last few months, there have been several blips in the polling. "Once in March and again in July, President Obama had a lead of 9 percentage points. Gov. Romney's biggest lead was 5 percentage points in April. He also opened a 4 percentage point lead during and after the Republican Party Convention that has now disappeared. Gov. Romney has never polled lower than 42% among Catholics and President Obama's support has never measured lower than 44% among this group," Cara reports.
Among other religious groups, Gov. Romney holds a more commanding lead of 51 to 40 percent over President Obama among Protestants.
Those who have no religious affiliation prefer the president 63 percent to 27 percent for Gov. Romney.
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