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Trump Is Driving Catholic Voters Toward Clinton

Donald Trump has held onto the support of evangelical Christians even as he has screwed up the name of a book of the Bible, said he doesn’t feel he needs forgiveness for anything, and struggled to answer the question that Jesus posed to Peter: “Who do you say that I am?” But, according to a recent report by Pew, Trump’s doing terribly with Catholic voters, particularly those who are regular churchgoers.

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Catholics who attend Mass weekly have increased their support for the Democratic nominee by 22 percentage points relative to 2012. They support Hillary Clinton at about the same rate as fallen-away Catholics; even though among white, non-Hispanic Catholics, those who attend Mass less frequently are slightly more likely to be registered Democrats.

In fact, Trump has done more to drive weekly churchgoers to the Democrats than Clinton has done to attract them. Evangelicals and Catholics who attend church regularly and favor the Democratic nominee consider Clinton a less appealing choice than Obama was.

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The share of weekly churchgoing evangelicals who support the Democratic nominee has remained nearly flat from June 2012 to June 2016, but their reasons have changed. Two-thirds of churchgoing evangelical Obama supporters described their vote as “for Obama” rather than “against Romney” but the proportions are exactly flipped for Clinton.

Matthew Schmitz, a Catholic and the literary editor of “First Things,” a journal published by the Institute on Religion and Public Life, excoriated Trump for his “great cruelty toward those who cannot wish themselves into being winners.” But, in Schmitz’s opinion, the two in five Catholics who support Trump may do so because churches have left their parishioners open to Trump, because, “Catholics have failed to articulate a political vision — in either party — that appeals to those left behind by progress.”

Leah Libresco is a former news writer for FiveThirtyEight.

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