Media coverage in the run-up to the US election made much of Donald Trump’s “Catholic problem” – but exit polls revealed that Catholics voted 52 per cent for the president-elect and only 45 per cent for Hillary Clinton.
The election continued a trend of Catholics voting for the winning presidential candidate.
Within Catholic voters there was a sharp divide. White Catholics supported Trump by a clear margin – 60 per cent to 37 per cent – while Hispanic Catholics preferred Clinton 67 per cent to 26 per cent.
Dr Mark Gray of the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University told the Catholic News Agency: “Catholics continue to be the only major religious voting block that can shift from one election to the next.
“This is what makes the Catholic vote such an important swing vote. Presidential candidates who win the Catholic vote almost always win the presidency.”
Trump made several direct appeals to Catholic voters. In a letter to a Catholic conference he pledged his commitment to pro-life causes and religious freedom. He subsequently gave an interview to the Catholic television network EWTN in which he said religious liberty was in “tremendous trouble”.
A Pew Research Center blog post said results revealed little change from previous elections in the alignments of religious groups.
Evangelical Christians backed Trump by 81 per cent to 16 per cent. Weekly churchgoers of any kind supported the president-elect by 56 per cent to 40 per cent.