The myth and reality of the Catholic vote

Stephen S. Schneck, director of the Institute for Policy Research and Catholic Studies at The Catholic University of America, argues at CNN that there is no such thing as a single Catholic vote, but rather, there are three distinct Catholic voting blocs.

Professor Schneck argues that one particular voting bloc will likely determine the 2012 presidential election:

For years, pollsters and political scientists have been stumped about Catholics.

On one hand, it's been pretty clear that as American Catholics go, so goes the nation. George W. Bush narrowly won the Catholic vote in 2004 and won a second term. Barack Obama narrowly won the Catholic vote in 2008 and, with it, the White House.

It's easy to see why Catholics are sometimes seen as the swing voters whose shifting political preferences swing elections.

Nevertheless, the idea of a Catholic bloc is patently ridiculous. As voters, American Catholics mirror the electorate as a whole, divided into Democrats, independents, and Republicans at about the same percentages as all Americans. And it's hard to trace such political complexity to religious allegiance.

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