Obama could lose Catholic vote over HHS mandate



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ABSTRACTAnalyst: Obama could lose Catholic vote over HHS mandate :: Catholic News Agency (CNA) Editors Service About us Donate Spanish Portuguese Follow us: Loading News Headlines Vatican Americas Asia - Pacific US Europe Middle East - Africa Most Read Most Commented Archive Mandate Resources Abortion Advent Apologetics Benedict XVI Bible Cardinals Catechism Catholic Womanhood Church Fathers Life & Family Liturgical Calendar Liturgy Mary Politics Prayers Sacraments Sacred Arts Saints Virtue Tools Catholic Podcast RSS Feeds CNA TV CNA Audio Columns A Life Worth Living Answering the Tough Questions Bishops' Corner Book Reviews Both Oars In Catholic & Single Catholic Men Guest Columnist Harvesting the Fruit of Vatican II In Good Company Indispensable Economics Inside the Church during WWII Led Into the Truth Movie Reviews Preparing the way for the Roman Missal – 3rd Edition The New (& the Old) Evangelization The Spirit of the New Translation The Way of Beauty With Good Reason Your Moment in the Mass Documents Pope Benedict XVI Pope John Paul II Pope Paul VI Pope John XXIII Pope Pius XII Pope Pius XI Pope Pius X Pope Leo XIII Vatican II Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith Pontifical Council for the Family United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Cardinal James Francis Stafford Archbishop Charles J. Chaput Bishop Samuel J. Aquila Catholic Womanhood Home » News » US Analyst: Obama could lose Catholic vote over HHS mandate By Michelle Bauman Washington D.C., Feb 5, 2012 / 05:33 pm ( CNA ) .- The growing Catholic outcry against a recent health insurance mandate could threaten President Obama’s support “among a key group of swing voters that was critical to his victory in 2008,” political writer George Condon says.  According to an analysis released by the Pew Research Center on Feb. 2, Catholics have shifted away from the Democratic Party since the 2008 election. George E. Condon, Jr., a political writer for the nonpartisan National Journal, wrote in a Feb. 1 article that although Obama won the Catholic vote in the 2008 election, recent dissatisfaction among Catholics could be detrimental to his 2012 efforts for a second term.  Condon tied Obama’s change in political fortune to the Jan. 20 announcement by the Department of Health and Human Services that virtually all employers will be required to purchase health insurance that includes coverage for sterilization and contraception, as well as the drug Ella, which can cause early abortions. The very narrow religious exemption to the mandate requires an organization to exist for the purpose of inculcating religious values and to restrict employment and its services primarily to fellow believers. The administration refused to broaden the exemption despite thousands of complaints from religious hospitals, schools and charitable agencies that objected to the mandate but were open to serving members of all faiths.  In less than two weeks, the decision has been denounced in thousands of Catholic churches across America, and several bishops stated that they would refuse to comply with the “unconscionable” and “unjust” regulation. According to Condon, the mandate provoked an “explosion of anger” and has left many Catholics feeling disappointed with President Obama. Many Catholics who supported Obama in the 2008 election and defended his controversial appearance at Notre Dame in 2009 are also now left disillusioned by the realization that Obama does not understand “Catholic sensitivities,” as they had thought. Condon said that although not all Catholics follow the Church’s teaching on birth control, the “American Catholic backlash” against the mandate has united the Church in a fight against a government attempt to regulate its ministries and employees. The united Catholic opposition could be damaging to Obama’s chances for reelection, he said, observing that in 2010, Catholics made up 25 percent of the American population and were a “big swing vote in the key political states.” Surveys conducted by the Pew Research Center over the last year show a significant shift in the Catholic electorate away from the Democratic Party.  In 2008, 37 percent of Catholic registered voters either identified with or leaned towards the Republican Party, while 53 percent favored the Democratic Party. By 2011, those numbers had changed significantly, with 43 percent favoring the Republican Party and 48 percent identifying more closely with the Democratic Party. An even further shift has occurred among white Catholics who attend Mass every week. In 2008, this demographic was evenly split, with 45 percent favoring each political party. But in 2011, 52 percent favored the Republicans and just 40 percent identified more with the Democrats. The Pew analysis indicates that Catholic voters are not alone in this trend. It finds that “the share of voters identifying with or leaning toward the GOP has either grown or held steady in every major religi.......