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Poll: More Catholics want Roe v. Wade upheld than reversed

Poll: More Catholics want Roe v. Wade upheld than reversed

Unsplash/Kenny Luo

Catholics are more likely to say that the Supreme Court should uphold Roe v. Wade rather than reverse it, according to a newly released poll.

EWTN News and RealClear Opinion Research released their fourth and final poll ahead of the 2020 presidential election, asking nearly 1,500 Catholic likely voters to weigh in on current events and the state of the presidential race. The poll has a margin of error of +/-2.79% and a 95% confidence level.

A plurality (45%) of Catholics said justices on the nation’s highest court should uphold Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that affirmed access to abortion as a constitutional right. Only 25% said that the court should reverse the decision because it is unconstitutional and 18% thought that the high court should send the issue back to the states.

On President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett, who is a devout Catholic, the survey found that 46% of Catholics supported the nomination while 28% opposed and 27% said that they needed more information.

Catholics were divided on whether the president should nominate someone to the Supreme Court if there is a vacancy at any time during the four-year term, including in an election year. While 48% agreed that the president should name a nominee, 43% disagreed.

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During Barrett’s confirmation hearings this month, Democratic senators argued that they should wait until after the Nov. 3 election to confirm a Supreme Court justice to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Republican senators pushed back, saying there was nothing unconstitutional about the confirmation process.

Other findings from the survey show that 43% of respondents believe that practicing Catholic politicians should follow the teaching of the Catholic Church on abortion while 29% disagreed. Some bishops have been outspoken in their criticism of Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, a Catholic, over his pro-abortion stance. Biden has vowed to enact legislation making Roe v. Wade "the law of the land" should the high court overturn it.

Fifty-two percent of Catholics said that they plan to vote for Biden compared to 40% who support Trump. Biden’s 12-point lead is identical to the lead he held in the previous poll, when he held the support of 53% of Catholics compared to Trump’s 41%.

In the swing states that will decide the outcome of the 2020 presidential election, the race is much closer. Catholics living in Arizona, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin support Biden over Trump, 48% to 44%.

Trump has an approval rating of 47% among all Catholics. That figure increases to 53% among Catholics who attend mass at least weekly. Meanwhile, Biden’s approval rating stands at 52% among all Catholics and 48% among those who attend mass at least weekly.

Carl Cannon, the Washington bureau chief for RealClear Politics, explained that the Catholic vote is a “bellwether,” adding, “You can’t win without it.” In 2016, media exit polls found that Trump won the Catholic vote by a margin of 50-46 against Democrat Hillary Clinton. New York Times exit polling over the years, dating back to 1972, has shown that the winner of the Catholic vote has always won the presidential election.

John Della Volpe, director of Polling at RealClear Opinion Research, noted, “These poll results are a wake-up call for President Donald Trump who appears to be trailing his opponent Joe Biden among Catholic voters.

“If President Trump wants to change his polling among Catholics, this data suggests it would be wise to address the concerns they have about the coronavirus and the economy. Among the more-frequent mass attending Catholics, more than 7-in-10 say these issues are major considerations when casting their vote.”

The poll shows that a majority of Catholics see the economy and jobs (73%), coronavirus (68%), healthcare (67%) and civil unrest (53%) as major concerns.

The share of Catholics who see healthcare, civil unrest and the economy as major concerns has increased slightly from the EWTN/RealClear Opinion Research poll released last month while the share of Catholics who see coronavirus as a major concern has decreased slightly in that time.

Weighing in on the civil unrest facing the country, 45% of likely Catholic voters cite both left-wing extremist groups such as Antifa and Black Lives Matter and right-wing extremist groups such as the Ku Klux Klan as equal threats to the U.S. Twenty-six percent said right-wing extremist groups pose more of a threat while 18% said left-wing extremist groups are more of a threat.

Among those polled, 60% said they go to confession less than once a year while 40% go to confession at least once a month or once a year. Half of respondents believe that the bread and wine are truly transformed into the body and blood of Christ while 35% believe that the bread and wine are symbols.

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