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US election: Catholic women responsible for boosting Clinton campaign

02 November 2016 | by Catholic News Service , Michael Sean Winters , Megan Cornwell

The 'gender gap' is clearly evident among white Catholic voters

Catholics are giving a decided edge to Hillary Clinton in the US election, according to a new poll released this week.

Hispanic Catholics and white women in particular are responsible for helping Clinton make gains over her Republican rival Donald Trump, showed new poll results released by the Public Religion Research Institute in conjunction with the Institute for Policy Research & Catholic Studies at The Catholic University of America in Washington.

White Catholic men back Trump 58 per cent compared to 33 per cent for Hillary, but white Catholic women support Clinton 49 per cent with 38 per cent preferring Trump. "A gender gap in vote preference is evident across religious groups," said the poll, titled ‘The 2016 Religion Vote’, but "white Catholic voters have a much more pronounced gender gap", it said.

Overall Clinton, the Democratic nominee, has support from 51 per cent of Catholics compared to 40 per cent for Trump. This compares to a much closer 50 per cent to 48 per cent advantage Catholics gave to President Barack Obama over challenger Mitt Romney four years ago in Obama's re-election bid.

White Catholics (both men and women) prefer Trump but non-white Catholics give Clinton a 78 per cent boost compared to 17 per for Trump, said Robert Jones, PRRI president, during a news conference to launch the data.

That Republicans are trailing so badly among Hispanics should come as no surprise; Trump made headlines on the campaign trail with his remarks that immigrants are entering the country without legal permission and are "bringing drugs, they're bringing crime, they're rapists". He also suggested building a wall – which he would make Mexico pay for – to stop such border crossings.

Jones said white Catholics' overall support for Trump did not vary much by age, as Catholics ages 18-49 favoured him 49 per cent to 40 per cent for Clinton, while those 50 and over chose Trump 47 per cent to 41 per cent for Clinton. He attributed these results to the Church's "loss of the young people, who are generally more liberal". Jones said this trend is also evident among white evangelical Christians.

The numbers for this new poll were aggregated from four separate PRRI polls conducted between 22 September and 17 October. The time frame includes the leaking by NBC of a recording of lewd comments made by Trump about women while he thought he was off camera in 2005. The time period does not include the third presidential debate or the FBI announcement on 28 October that it was conducting a further investigation into Clinton's emails being on an unauthorised computer when she was Secretary of State.

A recent ABC News tracking poll, however, indicated that 63 per cent of respondents said the news would not make any difference in their vote, while 34 per cent said the news made them less likely to vote for Clinton.

Mrs Clinton maintains a sizeable advantage in the Electoral College, with key states like Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and New Hampshire appearing solidly in her column. Swing states like Florida and Ohio, where Clinton was pulling away, are now getting close in all polls. To win the 270 Electoral College votes needed to secure the presidency, her Republican rival Donald Trump would have to win every battleground state and also a state currently looking solid for Clinton.



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