A recently released study by the Ventura-based Barna Research Group in California reported that more Catholics are supporting President Bush in the upcoming election, giving him a 53% to 36% lead over Senator John Kerry.
Four months ago, the two presidential candidates were almost tied with Kerry holding a lead over President Bush, 48% to 43%. Due to a shift in Catholic support, those numbers have changed.
“That swing is attributable to an encompassing assessment by many Catholics of the leadership abilities, character, and policy stands of both men,” commented survey director George Barna. “We found that party identification and other matters had little to do with the reassessment of both candidates. Many of the Catholics now behind Mr. Bush have traditionally voted Democratic, but have chosen a different course this time around.”
Bush, a Protestant who openly speaks about his faith, holds many contrasting views to Kerry, who is Catholic. The President adamantly opposes abortion, same-sex “marriage,” while Kerry supports both.
Although he gained Catholic support, Bush has lost Protestant votes to Kerry. Protestant support for Kerry has risen from 35% to 38%, according to the survey, and dropped for President Bush, down 9% from 59% in May.
The President, however, has been able to hold a strong grasp of evangelical and born-again Christians. Nine out of ten evangelical and born-again Christians plan to vote for Bush this election compared to 2% for Kerry.
Barna noted that campaigning and debates before the election makes it a possibility that “some voters who were ‘certain’ regarding their candidate of preference could switch their allegiance.”
“Just as critical is the rate of voter turnout on November 2,” said the researcher who found the larger a church is, the more likely its congregants will vote in the upcoming election. Compared to a 200-people church with a 41%-voting turnout, a church with 1000 or more congregants will 63% at the polls.
While the survey concluded that the larger the church of the likely voter, the more likely the voter will elect Bush, Barna warned the election is not decided.
“The Bush campaign must be wary that their support base does not become overconfident of victory and fail to show up at the polls – an outcome that our surveys show is possible,” he said. “This is likely to be a close enough election that a significant deviation in turnout rates – for either the Bush or Kerry campaign – could alter the result of the election.”