At 8:24 pm the Obama people sent out: “BREAKING: Obama Overperforms Among Catholics and Wins Protestants.” That claim was somewhat difficult to reconcile with the note I received at 9:28 from the opposing camp: “FYI: PA Religious Exit Polling – Clinton wins Catholic, Protestant and Jewish Voters.” This was followed at 10:38 by the rather un-Christian “FYI: Dallas Morning News Religion Blog: “Hillary Clinton whups [Barack Obama in the Largest Categories]“
Leaving the claims about Protestants aside for now, let me confirm that Clinton did in fact carry Catholics by a bruising 68% to 32%. This statistic is lending credence to a growing chorus of analysts who say Obama has a problem with this constituency.
We will, undoubtedly, be discussing this at length in coming weeks. Permit me to briefly float one explanation for this state of affairs. I wish to claim–and I stress this is a first-go hypothesis–that Obama fares poorly among Catholics for the same reason that Huckabee did. Namely, these Americans are put off by Protestant presidential candidates who go too heavy on the Faith and Values stuff.
Admittedly, my hypothesis runs into difficulties when we recall that Catholics gave the majority of their votes to George W. Bush in 2004. Then again, strange as it may sound, Bush’s rhetoric was rarely as relentlessly Christ-y as that of Huck and Obama.