The support of white Catholic voters proved a significant factor for Donald Trump's 2016 US presidential campaign - but not as much as the collapse of support for the Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton among most religions, according to new analysis of the official exit polls published this week.
White Catholics supported Trump over Clinton by a wide, 23-point margin (60 per cent to 37 per cent), which compares favourably to Mitt Romney - the Mormon Republican candidate who proved popular among religious voters when took on President Barack Obama for the White House in 2012. Romney gained a 19-point margin (59 per cent to 40 per cent) over President Obama in this group.
Trump’s strong support among white Catholics negated the sway that Clinton had over the Hispanic vote, which voted 67 per cent to 26 per cent in favour of the Democratic candidate. Trump gained 7 per cent more of the overall Catholic vote compared to his rival (52 per cent to 45 per cent).
The positive showing flies against the general consensus in the US media earlier in his campaign. During the Republican nomination process some pundits and others questioned whether the thrice-married Trump would earn enough of the white Christian support: but in the end more than eight out of ten white, born-again/evangelical Christians voted for Trump, while just 16 per cent voted for Clinton.
The president-elect, who caused some disquiet among some religious groups for his misogynistic views and rumbustious nature, garnered as much or more support among Protestants, Catholics, Mormons and others religious groups as George W. Bush who was successful in his campaign for the White House in 2004, former US veteran John McCain in 2008 and the Mormon Mitt Romney in 2012.
Exit polls are surveys of a small percentage of voters taken after they leave their voting place. Pollsters use this data to project how all voters or segments of voters side on a particular race or ballot measure.
PICTURE (TOP) - Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a church service at Great Faith Ministries in Detroit, Michigan. Trump won Michigan state - the first time a Republican candidate has carried the state since George H W Bush in 1988