Do Coastal Catholics Vote Against the Church?

When we read that over 50% of the “Catholic Vote” went to Obama, I wonder where these 50%+ folks live?  I look at how the nation overall voted and the middle of the nation is filled with red, and primarily orthodox Bishops and conservative voters. I am sure there are pro-Obama Catholics in those states too, but I wonder if the coasts are the primary problem. Since I don’t live on either coast I wonder if anyone has a sense for this.

I have lived on the East Coast and know how ingrained the Democratic party has become with unions, public sector workers, etc. and large groups of Catholics among them. I know this is probably a bit of a caricature, so I’m asking if you if that is where you think our “Catholic Vote” problem lies and, if you agree, how should the laity/hierarchy approach changing this mindset if it all?


Dan Spencer


Dan is the Executive Director of the National Fellowship of Catholic Men and a co-founder of the Catholic Business Network. He has appeared on numerous Catholic media including EWTN television as well as Vatican, Relevant and EWTN radio programs. Dan serves on both the Kansas City Kansas Archdiocesan Advisory Board on Evangelism and Anti-Pornography initiatives. He is a frequent speaker and consultant on Sexual Integrity diocesan programs. Dan spent over 20 years as a senior advertising and marketing executive in national media firms followed more recently by 10 years as a “new media” entrepreneur, investor and consultant. His clients ranged from the NFL to the California Chamber of Commerce to the Rolling Stones. Currently he and his wife own a business in Kansas City while he speaks both nationally and internationally. He and his wife of 37 years, Linda, have four grown children and three grandchildren-all living in the Kansas City area.

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  • JMC

    Growing up in New York, I’m familiar with the phenomenon quite common there: You joined the party of your parents, and you voted a straight party line. Now I haven’t been there in over thirty years, so I don’t know if that’s still the case, but I suspect that something along those lines may be the case along the East Coast, particularly in the New England states, and Florida, where the bulk of the population is retired New Yorkers. My own mother lived there for years, and on visits I saw for myself how the liberals intensively wooed that generation. You see, a common belief among “The Greatest Generation” is that if it’s in print, it must be true. The vast majority of them have no clue how to use a computer, and no interest in learning.
    In fact, a particularly curious point in New York State is the fact that New York City in the 1970s was predominantly Democrat, and the rest of the state was predominantly Republican; however, more than 50% of the population lived in New York City, so records showed that the majority of the people in New York State voted Democrat. I am seeing this exact same phenomenon on the post-election map. The blue states are the ones that also happen to have the highest population density, and it seems that the higher the population density, the greater the percentage of liberals. In rural areas and small towns, the tendency is to find a higher percentage of conservatives. I’m not sure why that is, but in upstate New York, we used to call that, “the tail wagging the dog.”

  • MTD

    I spend much time agonizing over this Catholic Vote question. I work for the Church and I am going to a ‘Catholic’ school working on my Master’s. I am exposed to a lot of very different Catholic groups. The Hispanic vote was a huge factor. The left seems to have a lock on the perception of being the party that cares for the underprivleged and ‘common wisdom’ therefore assumes that the right are racist hate mongers. This defies reality but it is there. This left/right perception also pervades the Church going, active ‘Social Justice’ Catholics that I attend school with. They go to Mass regularly, but complain often and loudly about the ‘hierarchy’, complain that their parishes are too focused on the Liturgy and not enough on Social Justice; caring for those underprivleged. This is the largest contingent of liberal Catholic voters that have not been addressed in my observations. We know about the Hispanics, we know that many of the ‘Catholic’ votes were Catholics that are not church goers, are not knowlegable of their faith, are not involved in their parishes. At the end of the day, the problem stems from a lack of a complete Catholic Identity, we are union workers, or republicans or democrats, or Hispanic or black, advocates for our own perception of social justice or maybe just ‘rebels’, BEFORE we are CATHOLIC. We identify and understand something else about our identity before we look and think through a fully formed and knowlegeable Catholic lens.

  • TerryC

    I lay the blame at the feet of the bishops. I have a great respect for them individually, but as a group they have ceded authority to a bureaucracy made up of politically liberal members of the laity. They have also allowed the cart to be put before the horse.
    Rather than preaching social justice they need to be preaching orthodoxy. When the faithful are orthodox care for the poor naturally follows. So if the faithful of the Church are told from the pulpit about sin and redemption it’s not really all that necessary to talk from the pulpit about social justice and helping the poor. That behavior will be the natural response.
    Absent real action on public sinners and cafeteria Catholics no amount of pandering to left wing false “social justice” liberal policies will really help the poor. Meanwhile those who have been confused by the lack of pastoral guidance in these matters will support the party of intrinsic evils.

  • Nick

    Many of my fellow Latinos here in Southern California are concerned with immigration. Look at Cardinal Mahoney when he was here, Archbishop Gomez now, and Bishop Barnes in the San Bernardino diocese. While they are undoubtedly pro-life, they are also strongly pro-immigration. After all many of their parishioners are immigrants or 1st or 2nd generation Americans with family members trying to make it. The Democratic party and local democrat politicians have earned the support of these members of the church and some of the clergy by pushing this aspect of their party. Now Latinos are so entrenched in the idea that the republican party will rip apart their families and communities that they won’t vote that way. It’s an image problem which I don’t see being solved any time soon. Not until immigration is solved in a way that doesn’t paint the republican party as a bunch of border fence building, deporting hate-mongers. Pro-life movements will remain empty words that Latinos will support and believe in, even pray for but will not vote that way.

    The bishops have to decide how they are going to handle the future: maintain the status quo and preach pro-life from the pulpit while allowing pro-abortion supporters on their patios and halls in the name of immigration reform (leading the lambs to the wolves IMHO), or truly combat this intrinsic evil the plagues our society and make other items secondary to the sanctity of life.


    Look at Bill Donohue’s post-election Catholic vote breakdown. It has an answer to all your questions. One thing to do is to somehow persuade pollsters to start segmenting the Catholic vote between practicing Catholics and self-defined but non-practicing Catholics. It’s passing odd that someone who hasn’t been in a church since LBJ was president can count as part of the Catholic vote, and yet that happens.
    Also, Terry C, you’re, I’m sorry to say this, totally wrong. The “Catholic” vote broke 52-48 last time for Obama. It was 50+-49+ this time. Not a single bishop was silent on the HHS mandate. They all spoke out in force and often about this crucial effort. It did have an effort. What we need — and this includes all of us — is for laity to start learning their faith, to be bold about their faith, and for priests to preach the five non-negotiables from the pulpit. We can’t expect even practicing Catholics to vote in a Catholic fashion on the non-negotiables if they are not formed.

  • DYoung

    I agree with you Nick. If only everyone would vote according to Matthew 16:26.

  • MTD

    Nick – thank you for the response. I am meeting Monday with the Director of the Latino formation programs in our Archdiocese to get a feel for the community and what we can do to help this community and make sure they know who is really in their camp (and make sure we all are!). I know immigration is a huge concern for all Catholics – it is the one issue that almost all of us agree on – so the strength of the Church is another reason Latino’s should vote against this current administration. It is ironic that it was Senator John McCain that worked for 11 years on immigration reform, he talked about a plan to have the local communities be able to help long time Latino members become citizens. When he talked about the plan during the 2008 campaign, he was shouted down by everyone including the Democrats and the whole reform policy was scrapped. (See Debra J. Saunders article Sept 26, 2012) On the other hand, it is during the Obama administration that the most deportations have happened. The world – is upside down…..

  • OsoLobo

    The Catholic Exchange article: Who were the biggest losers in the election, The Catholic bishops was accurate to a fault. As a Massachusetts orthodox, magisterial Catholic (sad to have to self-identify thus) heterodoxy, relativism, jesuitical humanism are a blight, no a malignant cancer on society. Here in the Bay (gay) State, the cardinal-archbishop-abbot is, at best, quiescent on all moral issues, though his chancery will boast that he helped beat back ‘Death with Dignity.’ Maybe. He has a parish in Boston that is not only gay-friendly, it is gay triumphal. In fact, it has been years since I’ve heard a homily on the Ten Commandments, on sin, on sexual morality. Do these ecclesiasts even know what Our LORD when he said, “Presch ye, repent, the Kingdom of GOD is at hand” In Tax-achusetts, the roman collars would have to say in unison, “Repent from WHAT!?”
    Massa-screws-us is purportedly more than 50% Catholic. It boast Boston College, Holy Cross, and a score or more of “catholic” institutions of higher learning, and absolutely stone silent on the major issues of the day. Sorry, sorry, they formed ‘Catholics for Obama.’. It’s legislature is plurality filled with ‘catholic” educated lawyers who are among that most pro-death, pro-perversion, pro-promiscuity, pro-tax, pro-socialism in the USA. By invoking the hallowed imagery of Kennedy-esque vim and vigor a suborned and propagandized electorate re-elects the same old, shallow slate of Democrat (they can’t be sinners, per se, because of Camelotism) who for each election are photographed receiving Holy Communion, standing riant with roman collars, then giving their legislative votes to satan.
    It is sad, but these callow fools must never be upset by Church sanction such as excommunication which St Paul called an act of Love for the eternal Salvation of the fallen away. Oops but not in Kennedy-stan; it are too judgemental. Yes, they always do blather their great love of Holy Church, and some Sr. Mary Whatever.

  • chris

    One wonders if this does not go back 20-30 years in which the Church went through a challenging period & failure of leadership within the church. It seems that JPII and then Cardinal Ratzinger were instrumental in reaching out to the youth with a new evangilization, instilling the holy spirit, and capturing the hearts of many. What about the adult population who came out of this troubling period? It would seem that some basic formation in Catholic doctrine and teachings may be lacking and/or malformed. Many Catholic adults do not understand the moral heirarchy in which the sanctity of life floats to the top. There is much education of both Catholic adults and youth that is needed. I see an upswing of high quality seminarians, etc I remain hopeful. All must press on with commitment to strong formation of our youth & education of our adult brothers and sisters. Ultimately, He is in charge. Our challenge is to bring as many to the heart of Jesus as possible.