February 18, 2012 4 Comments
I was genuinely surprised at the number of people I heard/read express thoughts that this birth control contretemps was going to be a real problem for Obama with Catholic voters. I never bought it, because, like the rest of Americans, Catholics like the idea of having sex without having babies (regardless of what their priests and bishops say). Rick Santorum being a notable exception, of course. Anyway, John Sides has analyzed the latest public opinion data and we get this:
Obama may have taken a hit among Catholic voters, but any negative impact disappeared in almost no time. Some interesting additional detail:
I compared those who attended church at least once as week to those who attended less frequently or not at all. The pattern was the consistent with what you would expect: approval was largely unchanged among Catholics who do not attend church weekly but among Catholic churchgoers it dropped from 42% before the announcement to 34% in the 3 weeks after the announcement—before rebounding to 41% in the Feb. 11 poll…
The Catholics whose approval rating dropped most precipitously already overwhelmingly disapproved of Obama. It seems unlikely that many of them would have voted for him anyway.
Short version: at worst this hurt Obama for about a week. As for those claiming this was going to hurt Obama’s re-election chances, it seems to me that the data decidedly suggest otherwise.